Dress Up Woodwork with a Paint Color
It’s a period scheme that feels fresh today: plain walls, eye-catching trim
Intense colors had a real moment in 18th-century homes, and were popular on paneling because color could make woodwork’s three dimensions come alive. In America, the colonial palette brought together earthy colors like almond, brown, and red with vivid blues, greens, and yellows.
While woodwork and walls at the time may have been painted to match, pale matte walls later proved the perfect foil for colorful, glossy trim. The impact is clear in this circa-1758 house, one of dozens under the care of Rhode Island’s Newport Restoration Foundation. To emphasize the woodwork and the honey-colored flooring, the foundation chose this rich yellow-gold (California Paints’ India Trade), in a semigloss finish, set off by pure white (Sherwin-Williams’s Extra White), in a flat finish.
It’s a look that still works beautifully. Simply start with a scene-stealing trim color that complements undertones in the flooring or furnishings, and let your walls stay quiet in a matte-finish white.
Thanks to: Shantia Anderheggen, Director of Preservation, Newport Restoration Foundation; Paint in America: The Colors of Historic Buildings, edited by Roger W. Moss.