Home>Discussions>PAINTING & FINISHING>To paint or not to paint my trim
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To paint or not to paint my trim

We have a 120 year old East Lake Victorian that has almost no painted trim in it. From what I have been told, the dining room is black walnut, the foyer is oak, and most of the rest of the house appears to be a pine. Because of the position and size of our house, it always feels very dark and we have been trying to come up with paint colors to make it brighter. However, almost every house I see in TOH, OHJ, BH&G, and similar magazines has painted trim! We would not mind painting the pain, but we would like to restore the oak and walnut and need color ideas.

Or, does anyone have ideas so we can just restore all of the wood work and not paint any of it?

Re: To paint or not to paint my trim

You just need better lighting. There are old-time floor lamps that have one 200 watt bulb in the center (mogul-base) and 3 @ 100 watt bulbs surrounding it, with a four-way rotary switch. Put two of them in a dark room and it won't be dark at all. Think of a series of warm, highly-detailed and interesting rooms rather than a dingy dark room. It can be both dark and rich. It's all in how you decorate it and light it.

Re: To paint or not to paint my trim

I would have to agree with Sombreuil that maybe you need some creative lighting to go along with a new, lighter color scheme.

I would consult with a realtor about how altering the victorian style of your house would affect its value. Heavy, dark woodwork was certainly the style back then.

It would be a crime to paint over black walnut trim!
Oak is very grainy and does not look good painted. Pine does take well. Pine was used to cut cost. The public areas of the house would be given the fine woods, and the family areas given the more humble, less expensive pine.

You might want to first make sure your woodwork is really clean. I grew up in a 1883 Victorian in Chicago. It had a beautiful dark staircase. My father upon washing it, found that it was about 2 shades lighter once 70 years of grime was washed off and the wood was polished.

If your woodwork is stained very dark, you might not be able to significantly lighten it even with strippers. Back in those days, wood was often stained with dye stains which penetrated deep into the fiber of the wood. Mere chemical stripping would not get it all out.

Re: Oh no!!!

Good morning! Trust me on this one, DON'T paint the woodwork or ANYTHING that is wood! You will be sorry. We are.

Re: To paint or not to paint my trim

+1 for don't paint the trim.

One of my favorite features of my last house was the unpainted chestnut trim which a PO painstakingly stripped off the old coats of paint to show the beautiful wood. Dag I miss that.

OK, back to painting....

Re: To paint or not to paint my trim

Oh please do NOT paint it. I just spent 5 YEARS restoring our house and removing paint from the trim!

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