How to Pick the Perfect Trim Paint Color, According to a Paint Pro

Spoiler: Trim colors can make or break your home's paint palette.

How to Pick the Perfect Trim Paint Color, blue green paint
Photo: Clare

When you're decorating a room, choosing a paint color is often one of the hardest decisions you'll have to make. It typically requires dozens of paint chips, several paint swatches brushed at random onto the walls, careful analysis under every type of light, and at least a couple trips to the paint store. And then, once you've finally (painstakingly) selected a wall color, you have to pick a trim paint color for the moldings, doors, and details.

Fortunately, some direct-to-consumer paint brands, such as Clare, are attempting to simplify the painting process by eliminating the trek to the paint store and curating the color options. Taking it one step further, Clare's founder Nicole Gibbons recently expanded her product line to include trim paint colors—so you can now paint your entire home without a single trip to the paint store.

So how do you take the guesswork out of picking trim paint colors, especially when you're navigating the process online or even on your phone? For starters, it helps that Clare has narrowed down hundreds of options to a carefully curated collection of different trim paint colors. From there, follow Gibbon's advice, below, on selecting the right paint finish and choosing a hue that complements the wall color. You'll be surprised how much the right trim color can change the entire look of the room.

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Pick a paint trim color that complements the walls

"You want to keep color temperature in mind when choosing a white trim paint," says Gibbons. "A warm white is a perpetual favorite that's versatile and inviting, but is also the best choice to pair with other warm hues like reds, oranges or warm neutrals," she advises.

And if the walls are blues or greens? Opt for a cool white trim color. If all else fails: "A clean, neutral white will have a fresh, modern look that pairs well with pretty much any color."

"Just like you would any other color, test your trim paint to make sure you love it in your space and that it looks good with your walls," Gibbons recommends. Never underestimate the power of the paint swatch.

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Consider contrast for a bold style

Deciding between a matching or contrasting paint trim color is a matter of personal style, Gibbons says. "If you have a more classic style throughout your home, a crisp white is a no-fail choice no matter what wall color it is paired with."

And if your look is more adventurous? Try a bolder combo. "For example, black trim with white walls makes a big impact and really saturated colors like our Deep Dive would look great against a softer blue like Headspace."

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Go with a semigloss finish

When it comes to picking a finish for the trim paint, Gibbons takes out the guesswork: It's semigloss for the win.

"Semi-gloss is the best finish for trim not only because it's easier to clean and more durable, but it also helps to reflect the light in a room, creating a subtle contrast that allows your trims to pop against your walls," she explains.

And for the walls? It's eggshell all the way. "Eggshell is the best finish for walls because it's matte enough that it won't highlight imperfections, but it has just enough sheen that it's more durable and easy to clean," she says.

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Keep it consistent

"The trim color doesn't have to match throughout your entire home, but you should aim to keep the color palette throughout your home feeling cohesive," Gibbons advises. "In common areas, keep the trim consistent and play with color in individual rooms!"

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Paint the trim first

Should you paint the trim or the wall first? "This is often a hot debate," Gibbons admits, "but after working with numerous professional painters, we believe in painting the trim before painting your walls, as the professionals do. In my experience, professional painters always painted the trim first since it is more detail oriented and it's easy to fix any imperfections when you're painting the walls." Start out strong painting the detailed crown moldings, and afterwards, rolling paint on the walls will be a breeze.

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