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A Case for White-Painted Moldings

White-painted interior woodwork, one of the greatest charms of the Colonial house, provides the only architectural background that conveys satisfactorily the sense of mellow warmth and graceful dignity in eighteenth-century furniture of mahogany and other dark woods.  It constitutes the setting in which the furniture gems of the room are displayed.  Bright and cheerful, chaste and beautiful, it emphasizes the grace of line and richness of color of everything before it, yet seldom forces itself into undue prominence by reason of its color contrast or detail.  Indeed, this treatment of interiors has stood the test of time and we now appreciate what excellent taste our great-grandfathers manifested in depending upon its subtle influence to display the beauties of their rare pieces of furniture — Chippendale, Heppelwhite, Sheraton and Adam, brought from overseas.

From The Colonial Architecture of Salem

By Frank Cousins and Phil M. Riley

First printing in 1919.

2 Responses to A Case for White-Painted Moldings

  1. Dave K May 7, 2012 at 5:06 PM #

    I want to congratulate and thank both you and Jennifer for this excellent website and blog. Its obvious you’ve put a great deal of time and effort into this venture. Both of you have wonderful and easy to read writing styles and I appreciate the attention to detail on the website just as much as the valuable insight and expertise that you share.

    I am in the process of remodelling our 1977 tri-level and was contemplating the choice of trim moulding when I came across your website. Years ago, my wife had wanted to paint our “skinny” stained trim but I had resisted. Now, I’m in favor of white painted trim (Your “Design Principle No. 2” helped convince me.) but my wife is hesistant as she fears white trim will detract from our new stained cherry cabinets and dark stained maple floors throughout the main level.

    Perhaps this very powerful quote from almost 100 years ago will help alleviate her concerns and convince her of the timeless beauty of white trim!


    Dave K

  2. Ken May 8, 2012 at 9:42 AM #


    We’re so happy you like our blog!

    As to mixing stained and painted woodwork, rest assured that the most elegant addresses from Manhattan to Chicago, Montreal to Paris, from London to St. Petersburg, all have combinations of natural finishes and painted moldings.

    Good luck with your own molding makeover. Let us know how it all turns out!

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