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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
- Get a sample tester or, even easier, a peel and stick paint sample swatch!
- Use an online paint color visualizer or paint color mobile app to test the paint color using a photo of your room.
- Follow our paint expert’s tips here for choosing and testing a paint color.
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
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
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:
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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!
More great paint picks from Cyndy:
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Cyndy is a color expert who has transitioned from the fashion world to the design world by helping others choose just the right paint colors for their homes. Cyndy takes the guesswork out of choosing paint colors and has been sharing her tips and paint color palettes with her readers for more than four years on her blog The Creativity Exchange.
Cyndy lives in East Texas and is an artist working with designers to create commissioned paintings that enhance the color and design of a space.