What a week it has been for oak trim calls! I have been in three homes, YES, THREE homes this past week where their major beef was the massive amount of oak trim in their home. They all have the same symptoms; a Pinterest board full of bright white painted trim pictures, a clipping folder of the best paint colors to compliment the oak trim (if they decide to live with it), and the most environmentally safe way to burn all the oak in the home. – kidding.
Honey Oak trim seems to be an epidemic that most homeowners are trying to find a workaround for. These people do not want to live with the oak trim anymore, however they feel it’s either too expensive or would take too much time to do something about it.
Well, like any home investment/improvement project, YES it is going to cost you, and YES it will take time.
Even a simple internet search yields pages of results like “What to do with the Oak Trim”, “How to Paint Oak Trim White”, and “The Best Paint Colors for Honey Oak Trim”. It’s unfortunately been a problem since long before I got into the decorating game. Well my people, I have some solutions all in one place with other articles I found to help you along the way.
Let’s Start with The Good:
The good(ish) news is that oak trim is not necessarily bad for everyone. I have seen it done very well over the years, including my own neighborhood.
The above pictures have one common link for making their oak trim kind of amazing…they all used neutral colors and earth tones to surround the trim.
If you’re planning to keep your oak trim there are some paint rules:
A typical rule of thumb is to think about the tone or how dark or light the wood trim is before you make your make your paint selection, then pick a color that offers a contrast to the tone. For example: if you have a medium toned oak wood you would either want to make a neutral paint color selection that is either dark or light in tone. You almost never want to choose a medium color or medium toned paint color for a medium toned wood. This is why a warm white or a very light beige or gray will almost always work with the medium toned oak wood. The same is also to be said about deep charcoal color, because they are both contrasting the warm toned wood.
Earth tones always work well with your oak trim. The reason behind this logic is because both the earth toned colors and the trim are so close to the natural outdoors. Take a look see at this handy dandy chart on earth tone color combinations:
Again, the same tone rule applies even when you’re choosing a color off of this chart. Make sure you choose a tone that will contrast your oak trim.
There are some homeowners out there that feel that their oak trim is just bad and dated. It may take up the entire house and they feel as if it’s everywhere and they can’t escape it. However, these homeowners also feel a guilt complex for wanting to paint over an oak or a wood trim. Ideas I have for people in this category are to mix it up, add ceiling molding, and/or stain it darker.
These are all amazing ideas that add interest. The reason why I categorize this as the bad, is that this would take a medium amount of work and investment.
One thing that I always find to help any room is a dose of crown molding and wainscot. Yes, I am telling you to add more oak trim to subtract your problems. Rooms with added architectural detail seem to elevate the feel of any room with any type of molding. It just seems to feel richer and better.
Mixing it up also helps. Using a combo of white molding with the oak trim adds an element of depth and dimension to your rooms, as you see in the photos above.
When done right, my favorite solution is to stain it darker and combo it with the white. Again, think contrast, contrast, contrast, even with your trim. Here is a handy article online I found on a DIY solution to staining your cabinetry: http://lifeofthefarmerswife.com/?p=22
NOTE: I DO NOT RECOMMEND DIY’ing SOLUTIONS. I ALMOST ALWAYS HIRE A PROFESSIONAL!
It is a great read on products that I would recommend, as well as details on the process of actually staining cabinets and trim.
This section is for those of you who would rather jab your eyes out with a hot poker then look at the oak trim for one more day. This section is also for those you that have 1055 Pinterest images of homes with sprawling white, clean, airy trim. You all know the steps, you have investigated the process, and now all that is left for you to do is….. well, do “it”.
What is “it” you ask? I am talking about ridding your world of the wood trim all together. You want it painted and painted NOW!
Now painting can be very traumatic for some of us. We are very concerned about being judged about painting wood. Yep, our mothers, neighbors, and friends will absolutely crucify us if we paint that precious wood! I say TO HELL WITH THEM, PAINT IT! They don’t live there! And they are certainly not there when we are awakened in the middle of the night with nightmares about being chased down dark alleys by the horrid trim.
Now if you noticed above, white is definitely not the only choice when painting the trim. It is just the most popular. There are options and to me those options are funky in a good way. I am saying you should really consider black and gray when picking your poison.
Now all that is left for you to is to do, is something, ANYTHING, about the oak trim you loathe!
Your Interior Designer/HGTV Host