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Are you intrigued by the idea of painting your trim darker than your walls? The trend of contrast trim is gaining momentum – and for good reason! In a sea of white walls, darker baseboards, door casings and window trim can really add the wow factor.

contrast trim header image with text overlay

What is Contrast Trim?

Contrasting trim or contrast trim is when baseboard trim, door casings and interior doors are painted a darker color than the walls. Usually, the walls a kept a shade of white, with the trim painted a shade of gray, greige or beige.

What is The Best Trim Color?

For most people, white is the best trim color, because it’s a safe bet that works with all wall colors. However, if you’re looking to mix things up or don’t want white trim with white walls, a contrasting color in a darker shade is a really fresh way to update your home.

white walls with dark slate gray door and trim
Slate Gray Trim via Ashe Leondro

Does Window Trim and Baseboard Need to Match?

No. This is a myth. It’s certainly easier in terms of consistency to keep them all one color. And I certainly wouldn’t go painting them different shades of white. But I’ve seen contrast trim on baseboards and standard white trim around windows done very successfully.

bedroom with darker baseboards and white window trim
Note the darker baseboard and door casings, but white window trim and closet door

Wall and Trim Color Combinations

The darker trim, lighter wall combo works best when the walls are a shade of white or off-white. This really allows the trim color to stand out and have a moment, instead of competing with the wall color.

hallway with dove white walls and revere pewter trim
Revere Pewter Trim and Dove White walls

As a general rule, if you’re using a warmer greige, gray or beige for the contrast trim, pick a white with a slightly warm undertone. If you’re in doubt, Sherwin Williams Pure White or Benjamin Moore White Dove are almost always a safe bet.

I personally prefer this look with the slightly warmer tones, but you can really choose any color you like. If you opt for a cooler gray on your trim, stick to a neutral white like Pure White that will stop the whole space from feeling too cold.

Are you ready to paint your baseboards darker than your walls? Here are some of my favorite inspiration images to help you decide on what color is right for your home!

mudroom with white walls and warm greige trim and door
Benjamin Moore Stone Hearth via Seeking Lavender Lane
White trim with painted door and contrasting millwork
BM Revere Pewter via Roost Flourish Roam
light walls, agreeable gray trim in a small living room
SW Agreeable Gray via The White Buffalo Styling Co.
grand staircase with millwork painted BM Stonington Gray
BM Stonington Gray via Content and Company
Gray window trim
SW Magnetic Gray via Yellow Brick Home
Dark gray contrasting millwork around fireplace
BM Silent Night via Ariella Horowitz Design
Dark brown window trim
BM Bronzetone 60 via Linda McDougald Design

Final Thoughts

Whether contrast trim is something you’re planning to do, or you think white will always be the one for you, sometimes it’s fun to take a risk in your home. Whether it’s a new paint color, mixing your throw pillow patterns in unexpected ways, or even a DIY project – step out of your comfort zone once in a while and you may be pleasantly surprised at how much you may like it!

Don’t Forget To Always Use Real Paint Samples!

Don’t forget – no matter what you’ve read or photos you’ve seen online, it’s really important to sample paint colors in your home before committing!

Samplize provides real paint samples that are easy to move around your home, and cheaper than buying a gazillion paint pots! It’s the only way I buy paint samples.

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  1. Sophia Davis says:

    Could you paint your walls SW Alabaster and use SW Sea Salt for the trim?

    1. I’ve never seen that color combination before but the easiest thing to do is grab some samples (get the peel and stick from and see how they look together!

  2. Building a new home and in design I find out wall choices are not white! So ended up being SW City Loft. But I did choose SW Loggia trim and casings throughout the house and doors that can be seen from common areas. The rest of the doors (bathrooms, closets) will remain white. This was literally a last minute choice because of the high price in painted doors! Rethinking and worrying because I cannot visualize a white door with colored trim and casings! Cannot even find a white door with colored trim online! Do you think I should just cancel trim and casings?

    1. It depends on what shade of white. I’ve seen warmer whites with colored trim done very frequently. If it’s more of an extra white/chantilly lace bright white then it’s less common and you would want a warmer shade to work with the Loggia.

  3. Love the contrasting trim. We just moved into a house that was built in the 90s and are planning on painting all the oak trim “accessible beige”. I’m trying to decide what finish, semi gloss or satin. I understand semigloss is best for trim and cabinets and I can’t tell which sheen is in the pics. Any advice would be great thanks

    1. It’s really personal preference! If you use a good enamel paint the satin will hold up just fine. However, if you’re using Sherwin Williams I would go with semi gloss because their satin is more like eggshell.
      If you’re using Benjamin Moore or another brand, their satin is just that bit shinier.

  4. Do you think contrasting trim can pull out undertones in a wall color that you might not necessarily want to highlight? I see most of your recommendations are for a lighter grey trim and white(ish) wall. But could this work for a lighter paint color that’s a bit warm (like SW greek villa) and still use a dark contrasting trim (like SW Tricorn black) or do you think the white background has to be more neutral (less creamy) when using a darker contrast color?

    1. Absolutely – if you paired Greek Villa walls with a cool toned (or blue based) trim, they may look too creamy for your liking, or make the trim look overly blue. I would opt for similar undertones where possible – Tricorn Black is pretty black so that works if that’s the look you want, or something else with a bit of warmth to it like Urbane Bronze or a deep green like SW Illusive Green would be beautiful. I’ve even seen Greek Villa paired with Naval and they look fab together.

  5. Love all the information and the content you’ve been creating. Very different and helpful!
    Thank you!!

  6. joanna Hughes says:

    The idea of contrasting trim only looks good if the woodwork and base trim are in excellent shape….otherwise it just looks beat up and old.

    1. There’s so much that can be done to make even old trim look brand new. Ours was in rough shape when we moved in and our painter completely revived all of it!

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