How to Use Paint to Mimic the Look of Trim
Strategic bands and blocks of paint can add height and architecture to a plain space
When a room lacks detail, consider creating the illusion of molding the way decorative painter Ingrid Leess did in this once dull dining room. "The ceiling is a smidgen under 8 feet," she says, and the space, with its snowy walls, baseboards, and window casing, "was white on white on white." Leess created a warm-beige "wainscot," then added bands in the same shade along the ceiling edges and the top of the walls to visually add height—and suggest crown molding. Painting out the intersection of wall and ceiling by running the color onto the overhead plane fools the eye into seeing a taller space, while deep-blue blocks in a light-absorbing flat finish make the walls step back. After experimenting with different proportions, Leess let the distance from the top of the window casing to the ceiling dictate the band width there, made the bands alongside the window slightly narrower, and lined up the faux wainscot with the window apron. She kept the furnishings clean and simple, too, adding a striped carpet and a whitewashed tabletop and cabinet to reinforce the palette. For the project step-by-step, read on.
Shown: The bold geometry of this approach adds dimension and interest to bland walls. It's balanced by soothing neutrals and the careful alignment of the blocks and bands with the existing trim.
TOH Tip: For a well-proportioned look, line up the color blocks with the window molding.
Paint the Light-Colored Bands
Put down the light-colored bands on the walls. To reduce the amount of taping, use a brush to cut in around casings and base molding, then roll the light color on the walls, leaving a rough edge just beyond where the darker color blocks will go.