Bold Colors and White Trim...Name This Trend
August 5, 2008 10:16 AM   Subscribe

What is this interior painting trend I see before me?

Mrs. Smarson and I have been in the housing market for the last six months and are finally set to close on a house (YIPEEE!!!). We're currently in the midst of the"what colors do we want to paint the bedrooms, living room, kitchen, etc.?" discussion. The house is a bit older and we're hoping to bring it into the 21st century somewhat with a more modern-ish paint job. We both like some of the styles inside the newer townhouses we toured where the trend seemed to be solid colors (sometimes neutrals like taupe, mocha, beige and sometimes brighter reds, greens, and blues) with white trim. Examples here, here, and here.

Is this a nameable trend? Is there any kind of formula to it? Really I'm just looking for terms/phrases to put me on the right track to finding more examples.

More examples: Here, here, here, here, here, here, and here
posted by Smarson to Home & Garden (16 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know if there's a name for a trend, but you linked to pretty near matches of chocolate, green, red, and orange that we used in my house. There was no rhyme or reason to it. My wife said "I want the bedroom to be dark brown." I said "I want the kitchen to be orange" (after we painted it that color, we found a number of examples using a very similar shade). We both said "I want the bathroom to be dark red" (we had previously seen another dark-red bathroom we really liked). My wife suggested green for the office and I agreed (photos in my flickr stream, if you're curious).

The white-trim part isn't hard to answer. Painting trim is hard. White is a safe color.
posted by adamrice at 10:31 AM on August 5, 2008

I don't think there is a specific name. The white trim thing has been around for a long time. The larger moldings are a somewhat new trend. Ten + years ago new construction would offer a short, modest baseboard. Now you are seeing taller baseboards, crown molding, windows trimmed out, chair railings, etc. I don't know if there is a name for it, it's just a popular thing to do. What makes the white molding pop is the contrast of the color against a crisp semi-gloss or high-gloss molding.
posted by LoriFLA at 10:31 AM on August 5, 2008

Response by poster: Adamrice - Wow...I thought I might have linked to your actual photos there for a second, those colors really are exact matches. Thanks for the input.

P.S. Love the cubby/shelf wall. That's a great idea.

LoriFLA - I hadn't thought of that, but you're exactly right...the baseboards are bigger which creates more pop when you combine it with newer colors (i.e. not country blue, yellow, etc.). You're spot on with the gloss molding part too. Thanks!
posted by Smarson at 10:41 AM on August 5, 2008

Another reason you are seeing taller baseboards (8" instead of 4", or 6" instead of 2" for example) is because ceiling heights are getting taller and taller. If you have an old house with basic eight foot ceilings you don't want your moldings (especially crown) to overwhelm. You can certainly use lots of trim, but your molding size should correlate with the size, style of the room and ceiling height. Have fun decorating!
posted by LoriFLA at 10:42 AM on August 5, 2008

Apartment regularly runs articles on current color trends, which are usually closely connected to other design trends (fashion, graphic design). People start to see these colors used on TV design shows, in magazines and in furniture catalogs and then use them in their homes.
posted by xo at 10:52 AM on August 5, 2008

Response by poster: LoriFLA - great article, thanks!

xo - That is about what I figured. My intuition told me that if I'm seeing it in Townhomes built 1-2 years ago, then the trend probably hasn't been "cutting edge" for at least 3-4 years. But that's okay, we just know what we like. Thanks for the Apartment Therapy link.
posted by Smarson at 10:55 AM on August 5, 2008

As a data point of one, my wife doesn't believe trim should be any colour other than white. So our house was somewhat like the pictures you posted - light to deep colours with white trim everywhere. Personally I like complementary trim but our local paint store required a note before they'd sell paint to husbands. :(

I don't know if the trend has a name but certainly bolder interior wall colours are in style. per the high ceilings comment above, rooms with higher ceilings tend to fare better with bold/dark colours as it brings the room "in" somewhat. Small rooms need lighter shades to make them feel larger.
posted by GuyZero at 10:55 AM on August 5, 2008

Huh. My husband and I are in the process of painting our house and have ended up with a similar look. Good to know we're in style :) Like adamrice mentioned, we didn't set out to do the trim that way on purpose, but it was already white and painting it any other color would have been a challenge with the bold colors (brick red, sage green, bright yellow) we've chosen for the house. Maybe the bolder color choices are what make the style more noticeable now? I don't know much about decorating trends, but I do know that growing up, both of our parents had wall colors that were white or a nearly white color tint.
posted by geeky at 10:57 AM on August 5, 2008

Oh, also - in the old days of wood windows you could paint the window frame whatever colour. With modern vinyl windows, they're white and unpaintable. so the windows mouldings tend to match the window frames and the baseboards tend to match the window mouldings, etc. Finally, interior doors come pre-painted white and people tend not to paint them, so white doors leads to white mouldings, etc.
posted by GuyZero at 10:58 AM on August 5, 2008

I agree there isn't really a name for it beyond "contemporary trend." And whilst I hate to say this lest anyone thing I am disparaging their choices in interior paint (which I am not), I personally think it's influenced by the retro comeback the 70s has made. Those are all very 70s colours in terms of fashion, at least.

I like them! I'm not dissing y'alls paint!
posted by DarlingBri at 11:19 AM on August 5, 2008

This is definitely not a new style, btw. If you ignore the flowery wallpaper, you can see a bold orange color with white trim and larger mouldings on my grandmother's house in the late 70s-early 80s.
posted by stefnet at 11:19 AM on August 5, 2008

Just another data point: When the missus and I got around to the painting question in our new home, I was adamant about having light-colored walls, for various reasons (it's a small place, so it will look larger; I, psychologically, like brighter spaces, etc), and since we both like browns, we chose a really light tan. The missus was adamant that the trim/doors be a different color from the walls, and considering my feelings on colors, the only lighter shade that we could get in quantity was white.

This, combined with the discovery of PVC quarter-round that I wouldn't have to paint, made the coloring decisions alot easier. We don't watch design shows (no TV), and I'd never heard of, but we still came out like this. Crazy.
posted by eclectist at 12:06 PM on August 5, 2008

I call the entire look, new century Starbucks.
posted by Sophie1 at 12:17 PM on August 5, 2008 [3 favorites]

I don't think there's a particular name for this, but it's natural that with a trend toward deeper and bolder colors (from pastels and naturals a few years ago) that trim would go lighter. White provides good contrast with almost any color, even a lighter one, and that's popular. White is also a good way to create a constant theme throughout a series of spaces that may be different colors.

Here's an article on the white trend, partly as a result of new technology to create durable, cleanable white upholstery.
posted by dhartung at 1:08 PM on August 5, 2008

I think this trend without a name is starting to shift, surprisingly to wallpaper (with white trim). We did one wall of our modern 70s ranch and two of our friends have gone the wallpaper route as well. There's some beautiful modern wallpapers at Graham & Brown. Loves it!
posted by pokeedog at 3:25 PM on August 5, 2008

You know, the NEW new thing in new houses in Atlanta is trim that's a cream or ivory color. Wall colors vary. It looks really nice, actually. I think that the trend towards more and bigger moldings and millwork in a room can sometimes mean that the room looks really stark or chopped up by white trim, depending on your wall colors. Of course, IANA decorator, and I'm terrible with color, so all of our trim and plantation shutters are white.
posted by Beckminster at 1:26 PM on August 12, 2008

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