Should your Trim Colour match your White Vinyl Windows?

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One of my readers Melissa Huber asked:

"My burning question has been what to do about the interior trim around replacement windows. The replacement windows are white but our window trims match all the wood throughout the house (molding, chair railing, beams, crown molding, all kitchen and bath cabinets). 

What is the best way to treat the the window trim (knowing that I would eventually like to paint our kitchen cabinets white)

(a) Leave the trim brown to match the rest of the house

(b) Paint the trim around the windows to match the windows 

(c) Paint the trim around the windows and the rest of the house white to match the replacement window white

(d) paint the window trim in the warm white color we would like for the rest of the house even if it doesn't match the replacement window white?

(e) something else all together different?"

I get asked this question a lot because so many homeowners are replacing their old windows with vinyl. They are at least 30% less than wood and are virtually maintenance free.

Standard colours seem to be WHITE or beige, which I have defined as a green beige. Do not choose the beige option for your interior windows, they will forever be a colour that you either have to work with or end up ignoring. A beige window is much harder to ignore visually than a white one.

So here are my guidelines for working with interior white vinyl windows:

a) If at all possible, and your decor coordinates with an extremely white window (below), then paint your trim a white to coordinate.

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b) There is way more woodwork in a house than just what's wrapped around your windows, door frames, baseboards and crown mouldings, therefore; it's much more important to choose a trim/woodwork colour that coordinates with your existing decor.

So if your house is full of earth tones and more dramatic colours, your trim colour is probably more cream than white. In this case you will will simply have to ignore your white on white vinyl windows.

c) if you have actual stained woodwork I would ignore your windows yet again unless painting them white would coordinate with your new white kitchen, for example.

Your woodwork/trim colour if it's white or cream (not yellow or beige) should be the same as your kitchen cabinets. If it's not the same it should be different enough so that it doesn't look like you tried to match it and failed.

As I just mentioned in this post, there is no such thing as one neutral colour that works across the board. White goes with grey and black, and cream goes with beige and brown.

When should your windows look special, custom and fabulous like this (below)?

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If you have an unlimited budget.

I tried my best to find a picture of a window with a different trim colour that did not coordinate but of course no one would be in a hurry to post that kind of image because it's not fabulous.

However, unless you have the budget to completely re-decorate and renovate, you need to make the next best possible choice and it's more often than not, a compromise.

Do your windows match your woodwork?

Related posts:

Two Questions to Ask before you Renovate vs. Decorate

How to Paint Around View Windows

A Window of Happiness

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25 Responses to Should your Trim Colour match your White Vinyl Windows?

  1. Donna Frasca says:

    Probably the one time that I agree white is a must. Beige can be a tricky one to coordinate :-)

  2. Wow, what a great post. We had all of our single pane white aluminum windows replaced with double pane UPVC about 6 years ago. I went with a faux wood finish on the UPVC that looked almost like wood. I ended up painting all the wood trim in the house to match. All the doors, the trim around the doors, the balustrade, the closet doors and frames, kitchen cabinet. Nothing was safe from the brush. The pine of all the wood in the house had turned orange and it just so did not go with anything. But now you mention it, it must have been the windows that drove me to paint the wood. I didn't notice the pine was orange before the windows were replaced.

  3. Cella says:

    Thank you for another educational post.
    We are currently building guest house and making window selections. I'm thinking "simple clean cottage". Our budget is not unlimited, but we are going for decent quality. I love European style steel windows. Those are not in my budget, but I'm considering the dark bronze windows over white as an alternative. You didn't address what you recommend if your just now purchasing the windows.
    Any opinion that you would care to share? (please!)

    • Maria Killam says:

      Hi Cella,
      This post is written for someone that is either stuck with vinyl or whose budget doesn't allow for anything else.
      I would go with dark bronze as long as the windows themselves were slim and barely there visually Thick and bulky I would go with white. Maria

  4. Ginger says:

    I have not had a house in the past sixteen years that had trim all the way around the windows. :( I paint the window sills white.

  5. teresa says:

    Old windows can be easily fixed, and with properly fitting exterior or interior storms, are the most aesthetically pleasing and ecological choice. The difference in R value is nil and the ROI regarding energy usage would take a lifetime to reach. Only @5% of heating goes out the window and the seal between the glass is good for 20yrs at best, at which time they must be replaced as repairs are impossible. Better to invest in caulking and insulation. Nothing ruins and cheapens the look of an older home more than vinyl windows and the landfills are being filled with them in the name of ecology. Even aluminum or vinyl siding can be removed at a later date.

    :) However, as this is a site for color and almost all recently built homes (last 25 yrs), except the most expensive, have them, it's best to find ways to minimize their invasive appearance. They do sell those with interior wood cladding that can be stained or painted, and various colors of vinyl.
    I didn't mean to change the focus of this post, but the fight against replacement windows for older homes (not newer) is an important one from an aesthetic standpoint as well an an ecological one. I would also look forward to an additional post dealing with exterior trim and colors. Please don't ban me from your comment section.CTD

    • Bluezette says:

      What Teresa said! You question was, "Do your windows match your woodwork." Yes, we've had our original 88 year old, single pane windows professionally restored and weatherstripped and we restored the original wood storms ourselves. We love our windows and the fact that we can repair and maintain them at very little cost for decades to come.

      As is historically accurate to this house, the downstairs woodwork and windows are stained and shellacked, while the bathrooms and upstairs bedrooms are painted. They can always be painted to match the trim, no matter what color scheme we choose in the future.

    • mairi says:

      Agreed Theresa! Old houses require a lot of forethought in that regard. What we did with our circa 1902 windows rather than landfill (because they Had to be replaced due to the wood being compromised) was to upcycle them to the interior. They are fabulous as transoms over doors to let light in and instead of knocking out a wall, we put a large window sash there to open it up while still maintaining the original character. The most watery old glass was relegated to our upper kitchen cabinet doors. The remaining panes will serve the front of our house as we turn half the covered porch into a sun room, so nothing is being wasted.
      I would cast my vote also for a post about exterior trim, especially for heritage type homes which tend to have many layers of trim. Great idea. Thanks for this post Maria..

  6. Lisa says:

    Thank you, Teresa! Wow…I have gone back and forth about replacing single-pane windows on our 1927 home. I finally decided to keep them because they are leaded. Next week our historical wood storm windows will go up and we saved thousands! No more ugly aluminum storms!

  7. carol jane says:

    Maria, I have a question for you, please. If I have a room with brown, well I think its called fruitwood trim, can I use a gray on my walls or should I stay with more of a beige neutral? Just wondering. Thanks if you have time to comment.

  8. Debra says:

    Maria, Very interesting information. Thank you. Your wealth of information is amazing! I see you mention white goes with black and gray and cream goes with brown. I have seen that mentioned before. My question is what constitutes creme? At what point does white become creme? Benjamin Moore has a lot of colors that to me are creamy but are considered off white and named accordingly like Acadia White, Timid White and White Dove. Would you consider those in the creme category or white category? AND if you are putting them with a dark brown with no lighter beige tones to match up with does this rule of thumb still apply?

  9. vgjohnson says:

    We have a 40 year old house (beige and brown tones) with double pane windows that we need to replace (wood is rotten and seals between panes are broken and windows have become cloudy). We have medium toned oak woodwork in excellent conditon that we would like to keep. We would also like to choose low maintenance windows. Would you recommend all vinyl and which color, all wood, or a combination of the two? We don't want to paint our woodwork and doors cream.

  10. Suzanne says:

    I have had similar issues with choosing paint colors for interior shutters. In some cases, I have had clients who have .shutters or shades in front facing rooms. In the bathroom, the trim was bright white so a white shade was selected. But then in another front facing room, the trim is quite off white and they want to put shutters in. From the exterior street view, iit will look mixed up if the window trestments match the iinterior trim. They aren't ready to make major change to the room with the darker trim. There Are more rooms that pose a similar problem
    Challenging!

  11. Janet says:

    I had a customer that insisted on matching the trim to the vinyl white of the windows, they chose a bright white. The house had a lot of trim, wainscot and a very detailed painted mantel. They also chose off white cabinets, to me the trim totally clashed with the cabinet color and the vinyl on the window was not even noticeable as a color after the house was decorated and window treatments added!

  12. Sherry Daniel says:

    I am struggling with choosing replacement windows as well. All of our woodwork & doors are stained provencial and the interior woodgrain vinyl options don't quite match up. Should I choose a cherry color which has more red tones or just get the white interior? I have wooden blinds that match all the stained trim. It's an investment to replace 16 windows so I have to be sure I am making the right choice. There are options for interior wood clad windows, but the guy I am using doesn't use them & due to his reputation of being good & price is great, we want to use the brand he recommends which has woodgrain vinyl interior

  13. Laura says:

    I am in the process of building a house. The majority of it is cedar shake with a brick water table. I am getting the cedar shake painted ballet white. There will be white vinyl windows installed. Do you suggest I match the exterior trim with the color of the white vinyl windows or doing something different? Thanks.

  14. Heather says:

    We just installed all new vinyl windows and went with an off white "wicker" color. Now I am wanting to update the house by painting the wood trim. I am afraid white would clash with the window color. Should I paint all the trim the same color as the windows (which is very similar to the wall color too? Our other thought was to paint the window trim dark brown, to match the accent walls and paint the baseboards and doors white. We would just paint the window trim in each room whatever accent color matches that room if we chose that option. idk.

  15. Melissa says:

    Thank you for answering my burning question!

    I am now happily and boldly going forth with the arduous task of painting trim, knowing I haven't made a huge design mistake and this will be worth the effort!!

    I am particularly thrilled to have the "go-ahead" to paint the trim. My painter apprentice children were eager to help me paint for the first time. I couldn't turn down their enthusiasm for learning a new skill.

    We had fun but somehow I missed noticing all the "cool marine" (my daughter's choice for her bedroom) splattered on the trim until it was too late. lol. I'm doing some sanding and deglossing and can't wait to see the transformation begin.

    Your wonderful e-book and blog guided me to painting HUGE swatches of your go-to whites. So I know I've got the right white for the situation.

    I'm just hoping I can finish it all before we hit the next color trend. Oh, wait! White is timeless. I can take my time. Thanks for teaching me so much!!!

    P.S. I totally agree that keeping and restoring the original windows in an older house is the way to go!!!

    These were some flimsy 70's windows that we tried to live with as long as we could but weren't very good quality. They've made a huge improvement in our comfort and noise reduction.

    Keeping things out of the landfill is a must. I *hate* watching remodeling shows on TV when they demolish everything instead of taking out usable parts to give to their local Habit ReStore.

  16. Jennifer says:

    Hello I was just wondering what color out
    Trim should be . We are remodeling & have
    New windows. We have like an almond /tan
    Color. Should we go with white trim on inside or
    A dark brown ?
    Any suggestions will be appreciated.
    Jennifer

    • Maria Killam says:

      White, you need to ignore the tan now that it's inside. Maria

      • Jennifer says:

        Ok I just wasn't sure how the white trim would look with the colored windows . I know all the pictures I have been looking at the windows are white also. But I do like the white trim. Thanks for the help :)

  17. Andrea says:

    My husband & I decided on taupe windows to compliment our brick exterior, but I am concerned about choosing an interior trim color that compliments the vinyl windows. I want windows to coordinate, but the trim colors that match have a gray look. Do we ignore the interior windows or match them? Thanks for your help!

  18. Libby says:

    I am feeling like I just made a huge mistake! We are almost done installing replacement vinyl windows in our 1970's house. Previous windows were wood clad single pane and these are white vinyl on the inside. I had no idea how THICK the vinyl would be! The white is really standing out against our stained wood trim. Most of our rooms are warm tones. Should I consider painting window trim white in the rooms where this would look appropriate and leave others stained? Or leave it all wood and ignore the thick white windows? Thanks!

    • Maria Killam says:

      It should all go to white if that's what you are going to do. The world of renovations is that this kind of thing will happen when you update but stained wood trim is dated as a general rule as well so I would plan to paint it eventually.

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