Choosing Paint Colors that Work with Wood Trim and Floors

My post today is really long overdue.  In fact, today’s topic is probably the number one question that I have received over all my years working with paint colors.  The question:

What are the best paint colors out there for wood trim and flooring?

Paint colors for wood floors and trim: Vapor Trails from Benjamin Moore
Vapor Trails Benjamin Moore via Molly Quinn Designs

Hi Remodelaholics!  Cyndy here from The Creativity Exchange back with another paint color palette plus tips for choosing paint colors that go with wood floors, wood trim, wood cabinets, any wood feature in your home.

You’ll also like this post about how to use Sherwin Williams SnapIt for finding paint colors, plus my tips for choosing the best white paint color for your home and the best versatile black paint colors.

Paint colors that work well with wood trim and floors. Don't make these common paint mistakes!

Choosing Paint Colors that Work With Wood Floors

I haven’t really delved much in the past into colors that work with wood tones for multiple reasons — but the primary reason is that it’s complicated.

Wall Color is Sandy Hook Benjamin Moore
Sandy Hook Gray Benjamin Moore via Linda McDougald Designs

It’s also a very subjective topic and if you asked another color expert, designer, architect, etc..,  their opinion, you would get a completely different answer from each one of us.

Also, I have a very different approach/opinion than most people that takes some explaining.

Wall color is Dew Point from Benjamin Moore.
Dewdrop Benjamin Moore via Sarah Gallop Design

Today, I didn’t want to just give you a list of paint colors that work best with wood trim/floors.

I also want to explain and make my case for why I recommend and completely avoid certain colors in these spaces.

If I can (hopefully) explain it well, it can help you down the line to know what to look for in a color and what colors you should be avoiding.

I have researched and pulled together a palette today of the most versatile and complimentary colors to use with wood floors/trims, etc.

These are about as safe as I can give you but again, it’s really important to test a sample color on poster board just to be sure it’s the color you’re looking for (plus the other tips here for making sure the paint color is right for your space.)

HOW TO TEST A PAINT COLOR

When you’ve chosen the perfect color (or several) — be sure to test it out before splurging for the gallon of paint!

My chosen best paint colors that work with wood floors and trim

(Be sure to read the rest of the post for more information!)

  • Benjamin Moore Decorator’s White
  • Benjamin Moore Quiet Moments
  • Benjamin Moore Vapor Trails
  • Benjamin Moore Frostine
  • Benjamin Moore Paper White
  • Benjamin Moore Dewdrop
  • Sherwin-Williams Rainwashed
  • Benjamin Moore Gray Owl
  • Sherwin-Williams Agreeable Gray
  • Glidden Quiet Rain
Paint colors that work well with wood trim and floors. Remodelaholic

I’m breaking down today’s post into three of the biggest problems that I see when it comes to paint colors for spaces with wood trim/floors and cabinetry.

How to Choose Paint Color That Work With Wood Trim and Flooring

Contemporary Living Room Design
Wall color unknown via Mosiac Interiors SF

Problem #1: Choosing Too Warm of a Paint Color

One of the biggest problems that I always see when it comes to paint colors used in spaces with wood trim and flooring is that people always tend to want to use some shade of yellow on the walls.  If you search “wood trim and floors” on Houzz, 75% of the thousands of spaces you will see will be painted yellow or very warm tan.

The reason people gravitate to yellow/tan is they tend to want to choose a color that they feel will showcase all the warm beautiful wood tones in the space, so they choose the warmest color out there.

The truth is, painting these spaces in a warm color (especially yellow), has the complete opposite effect.

If you paint your walls yellow or in a warmer color, your wood trim and flooring will simply blend together because of the strong warmth in the wood and in the color.  Plus, it’s way too much warmth.

Every room (in my opinion) should have a near perfect balance of warm and cool tones.  It’s pleasing on the eye and our brain needs that color balance harmony.

Have you ever felt that something is bothering you in a space but you can’t put your finger on it?  Chances are, it’s a lack of undertone balance and harmony.

Solution: Choose a Balanced Paint Color

The best thing a home owner can do to showcase the beautiful wood features is to choose a color that is 65-75% cool and 25-35% warm in the undertone.

This contrast is pleasing on the eye, the cool balances all that warmth from the wood and the very slight hint of warmth in the 25-35%, blends and connects the wood to the wall color.

The best place too find paint colors that are close to 65-75% cool are the colors right next to the shades of gray paint cards at the paint store.  Colors that border the grays are better colors for complimenting wood tones.

This wall color in the image below is about 85% cool in the undertone and just look how the wood floors and stairs just jump out and stand out:

Paint colors for wood floors and trim: Quiet Rain from Glidden
Quiet Rain Glidden via The Inspired Room

This space below is more like 75% cool and 25% warm (ideal) and again, the beautiful wood floors and table are the star of the show:

Breakfast Nook With Wood Floors Painted In Rainwashed Sherwin Williams Simplify Featured On Remodelaholic
Rainwashed Sherwin Williams via Simplify
Choosing paint colors that work well with wood trim and flooring.
wall color unknown via Annette English 
Palette of transitional paint colors that are great for mixing warm and cool tones. Remodelaholic

Problem #2: Choosing the Wrong Shade of Paint Color

Another big problem that I see is that people do not think of their wood trim and flooring as a shade of color. I think people tend to think of wood as a neutral.

If you have dark wood floors and trim and you paint your walls a dark brown or a dark green, you have the same dark shade of color from floor to ceiling.  Your wood color and shade blends in and there is no balance.

Even lighter pine is a shade of color and it’s not as light as many people think, but rather a mid-tone shade.

Solution: Differentiate Between The Wood Shade and the Paint Shade

Think of your wood trim and floors as a shade of color. My rule of thumb is to go at least three shades lighter in wall paint color (yes three).

This is the sweet spot where you will get both contrast and balance that will so beautifully compliment the wood tones.

If you only go up one shade, something will not look right because it’s too close to the shade of the wood.

Notice in the image below how the much lighter shade of wall color to the shade of the floors really showcases the flooring and the ceilings look taller:

Paint colors for wood floors and trim: Agreeable Gray from Sherwin Williams.
Agreeable Gray Sherwin Williams via Honey We’re Home
Easy paint color strategy for the whole home {Remodelaholic}

Problem #3: Not Realizing that Wood is a Color

Lastly, another problem is that people do not realize that their wood features are in fact a color. Again, wood is not a neutral.  

If you have pine trim and floors, then you have yellow in your space.  Adding a color like light lavender to the walls will create a color conflict.

If you have cherry trim, floors or cabinets, that means that you have red in your space and a color like green on the wall may conflict.

This is something that you may not realize when walking into a space but something will feel “off” in the color combination if there is a conflicting color on the wall and wood tones.

Solution: Find a Paint Color Card that Matches the Wood Color

Go to the paint store and match a paint color card to your wood features in the space.

You will not get exact but get as close as you can to color and shade, and use it when choosing a paint color for the space.  This will help to remind you of the need to think of your wood tones as a color and to identify the shade of your wood.

Paint colors for wood floors and trim: Comfort Gray by Sherwin Williams
Comfort Gray Sherwin Williams via Sand and Sisal

80% of the time, when recommending paint colors to people with both trim and flooring, I suggest white.

If people also have wood wainscoting, 100% of the time I will suggest white.

I know it’s not glamorous and it may “sound” boring but in my opinion, nothing showcases, calms and balances strong wood features and undertones better than white.

White also instantly neutralizes strong warm wood tones and it allows for almost any color to be safely used in the space in accents, fabrics and art.

Paint colors for wood floors and trim: Atrium White Benjamin Moore
Atrium White Benjamin Moore via Clawson Architects
(Wood floor stain is Quartered and Rift cut White Oak with Minwax 1/2 Special Walnut, 1/2 Jacobean)

Another trick is to only choose from the top two lightest colors on a paint card.  Again, it’s important to work in the cool undertones but if you stay around the lightest shades of colors, that will also help.

Tricks for easily choosing white paint colors. Remodelaholic

If you have more questions and want to see more of my color palettes and advice, you can find all of that on my blog The Creativity Exchange. I would love for you to stop by!

Also, if you’re looking for more versatile and dependable paint colors, my top 15 colors can be found here.

Thanks for stopping by today!

Cyndy

——————————————

More great paint picks from Cyndy:

click each photo to see more details

Beach Glass from Benjamin Moore is one of the most versatile transitional paint colors. Color Spotlight on Remodelaholic
Healing Aloe from Benjamin Moore. A very light gray green blue transitional color. Color Spotlight on Remodelaholic
Color Spotlight Wrought Iron Benjamin Moore. Remodelaholic
Benjamin Moore Hale Navy. Color Spotlight on Remodelaholic

Please pin for later!

Paint Colors That Go With Wood Floors And Wood Trim From Remodelaholic
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33 Comments

  1. Love the help with picking paint colors. I only wish I had discovered your site sooner!! Many of my walls have stayed the builder’s yucko flat white since we moved in in July of 1999!!!
    We are in the middle of updating flooring throughout most of the house mainly
    upstairs but are keeping the medium oak cabinets & trimming because we like it. So these articles really helped me to narrow down the choices for paint colors. Thanks for that. My only thing is … I do have a question for when your flooring is light in color. How would you do your walls in paint 3 shades lighter than white?

  2. I too wish I’d found your site earlier. I’m in a bit of a mess. My house has Kilim Beige trim and Brazilian cherry floors. I wanted to move to a greige (from the light yellow the builder put in ten years ago). The SW color consultant chose Loggia and I bought 7 gallons and the painter has painted two walls, but I hate it! It just feels too light and bleached and blah (house is a bit dark, north facing and south windows are blocked by screened porch). I tried Revere Pewter and it was too light, so I tried it at 150 percent and it just looks silver and not greige at all in my house. Sherwin Williams said I could bring the paint back in and they’d adjust the color but to what! My sister is great with color and suggested Accessible Beige but I want to splash jewel tones about and I don’t think that will work. Can you help me? I’d like the color to have some depth. The 50 LRV’s seem too light.

  3. I love this article but I’m personally looking for something that will go great with my medium oak floors and trim along with the mixed wood pieces in out bedroom which consists of cherry and walnut. Can anyone help with that?I REALLY don’t want to do white.

  4. We have a oak wood flooring that has a greenish undertone. We’re stuck on what color to paint the walls! Any help or suggestions would be great. We don’t want the whole house to look greenish or cold, and we were hoping to make the walls white.

  5. OMG, I have an older cabin, only about 1,500 SF. Knotty pine ceilings, like a dark honey color. Would paneling on walls in LR, kitchen, hallway, all connected. I feel like I’m in a mole tunnel.
    Going to have walls painted soon, right over the paneling, will keep the ceilings. Thought I’d do very light Marigold in LR a share or 2 darker in kitchen, hallway with white antiqued cupboards. Thought it would be lighter, brighter & pop ceiling.
    Now after reading your article, I’m afraid to do it, because it wouldn’t be enough contact right? Even if the color is 3 shades lighter than ceiling? Too much yellow?
    Yikes, would love any advise asap. Is my first time owning a home…finally.

  6. Lived in Seattle too long to tolerate much gray inside, but now I live in S Texas, & my tiny LR has two big windows: 1 south-facing & 1 west-facing. My flooring is faux weathered vinyl planking,with decided gray tones (near-white gray in direct sunlight & darkish greige in shadow. I need a cool white paint with heat-absorbing undertones. (I already made white slipcovers & curtains & painted little tables, etc. white.) Getting conflicting info on pinterest.
    HELP!!.

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