Contrasting Paint Trim Is Trending—Here's How to Get the Look

Living Room with Contrasting Paint Trim
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Many designers have been opting to highlight impressive paned doors and windows by painting the trim around them black. This high-contrast look is fresh and modern, and an inexpensive way to spotlight your home's best features. In a more traditional-style home, the same trend applies; just tone down the contrast and paint the molding or window trim a different shade of the wall color. Here are a few ways to work this paint trend into your home, plus tips from a pro on how to paint trim the right way.

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Amp Up Architectural Interest

Contrast Molding, Architectural Interest
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If you're lucky enough to have a home with interesting architectural features—such as transform windows, large paned windows, or intricate moldings—painting them a different color than the walls helps them stand out. While a neutral hue, like gray, works in a traditional space; consider an electric blue window trim for a modern home that's not afraid of color.

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Two Shades of the Same Color

Subtle Contrast Molding in Living Room
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For a subtle effect, paint the walls and trim two shades of the same hue. For example, paint the walls a light misty gray and the trim a deeper charcoal, or pair pale blue walls with navy trim.

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Two-Tone Board and Batten

Green Two-Tone Wall Paneling in living room
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If you have wainscoting or board and batten in your home, paint the paneling a different shade of the same hue used on the walls. When buying paint, you can pick two paint chips, or ask the paint store to lighten the darker paint color by 50 percent. The two shades will look harmonious because they're created from the same base color.

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Keep It Neutral

Blue Walls and White Trim in Living Room
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High-contrast trim doesn't necessarily mean painting it a vibrant color. If the walls are colorful, keep the chair rail or picture rail white to create a striking effect.

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Tips for Painting Trim

paint can and roller in tray
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"When painting a full room in your house, it's best to first paint the ceilings using a flat paint, then the walls using an eggshell paint, and end with the trim using a semi-gloss paint," says David Steckel, Thumbtack home expert. "Make sure to repair any dents or damage on the trim before getting started. Use either plaster or wood filler, then don't forget to sand and smooth the area."

While Steckel says that painter's tape isn't always necessary, it can be helpful, especially if you're unsure about the steadiness of your hand. When painting the baseboard, for example, apply tape along the edge of the wall and the floor to ensure a clean line.

If you're hiring a pro, keep in mind that intricate details could make the project more expensive. "Baseboards, casings, crown moldings, wainscoting, windows, and rails all require extra time to be painted, which in turn will increase interior painting spend," he explains. "Painters will charge for additional tape, contrast or matching paint, and materials needed to paint extra trim." But for a stylish effect you'll want to live with for years, the project may be well worth the extra effort and expense.

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