Thank you to Brett Walther at Style at Home for including this post, The Best Trim Colours – NOT Cloud White, in your blog on December 16, 2008!
I’m sorry if I have just killed your ‘go-to’ trim colour, but I truly think Cloud White oc-130 is the most overrated trim colour of all time. It’s been mentioned once too many times on HGTV, House & Home and Style at Home Magazines and I ask why?
It’s so big I wonder why blind companies don’t carry samples that match it perfectly? Seems like a smart idea to me?
Now that we are no longer as afraid of colour as we were in the 80’s (when we all had that one red, forest green or dramatic accent wall and the rest were white!) and it’s getting more common that people don’t even move in until the local Colour Consultant has made a house call, the one thing that hasn’t changed is the standard cloud white cc-40 trim colour. Why? I think most people are afraid of white as there are hundreds of shades.
The second guessing begins when you start comparing one white to another.
A little lesson in whites is all you need.
Whites come in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and gray tints but the only ones that you would really use over and over on trim are blue-whites, true-whites, off-whites or cream.
Not like you CAN’T use other whites, I’m just giving you some guidelines here because there’s as much of a science to choosing whites as any other colour in your home.
The reason why you want your trim colour to be light is for contrast.
The first colour consultation that I ever did, I took the strip of colour chips that went from light to dark from the fan deck, and picked the lightest shade of the goldy beige I had chosen for the living room walls. When I came back to see the finished room later, the moldings looked dirty. They just didn’t have that crisp contrast that you expect trim to have.
The exception to this is if you have a contemporary interior, you might paint your trim the same colour or darker than the wall. Certainly commercial interiors almost always have darker trim to hide the wear and tear.
The best white for you is the one that works with the fixed white in your home. If your kitchen cabinets are screaming white, then your trim colour could be oc-65 Chantilly Lace or Dulux White on White 30GY 88/014 or SW7006.
If your entry floors set the tone of the fixed white in your home with a creamy marble, then you find one that goes with that and it might be Sherwin Williams 6385 or oc-38 Acadia White or Dulux Fencepost 81YY 87/031 to mention a few.
If you don’t have a fixed white surface such as cabinets or tiles to pick your white from, then the second thing to consider is how light or dark the colours are throughout your home.
One of my best friends, a very gifted and successful designer, has a design/build firm. Once she has chosen all the hard finishes and is ready to pick colours, she hires me. At the end (always pick the white last) of the first two times we worked together, I tried to introduce a creamier trim that I felt would be appropriate for all the rich colours we had chosen for the clients home.
She quickly dismissed my suggestions each time and said “No, Cloud White is the one I always use.” Then about a month later as the painting was nearing completion in the first house, she confessed that she walked in and saw for the first time, what I had tried to create with a softer, creamier colour and that leaving it Cloud White was too stark of a contrast with the rich colours throughout the home.
She now happily goes along with my trim recommendations.
I’m not saying you should NEVER use Cloud White, or that it’s a bad colour, not at all.
What I am saying is you should specify it because you have taken all of the above into consideration along with all the other possible trim colours available.
And it’s an off-white. There’s a million of them out there. Anyone of them works as long as it’s not stark or too creamy.
Need help choosing the right white? My White is Complicated: A Decorators Guide to Choosing the Right White eBook will help you get your whites right for your cabinets, trim, ceilings, and walls. It also includes photos and examples so you can see which white is right for your house. This eBook also includes my Bonus book of Whites which will take the guesswork out of your decisions.