Design Trends: Monochromatic Walls and Trim

Take a moment to imagine traditional architectural details like baseboards, crown moulding, and chair rails. Now stop. Did your mind automatically default to a white paint color? White trim is classic. It’s bright, it’s fresh, and it coordinates with every other paint color imaginable. In essence, it’s foolproof.  However, opting for “foolproof” can lead to rather dull experiences, both in life and in home decor. While looking back on a post I wrote several months ago, Design Trends: Saturated Paint Colors, I noticed another trend hidden among the photos. Many of those bold, beautiful paint colors were featured not only on the walls, but on the trim as well. I saw that monochromatic paint schemes can breathe contemporary new life into decidedly traditional rooms. Now that the seed of matching-walls-and-trim has been planted in my mind, I notice it everywhere.

navy walls and trim

Your main reason for choosing a monochromatic look should be style. However, among the benefits of using the same paint color on the walls and trim is that your room will look taller. Contrast makes a room look smaller. By carrying one color all the way from floor to ceiling without contrasting baseboards or moulding, you are adding inches, or even feet, to the visual wall height. Another benefit is ease of painting. If you have ever painted your own home, you know the tedious hassle of applying painter’s tape to every edge and later peeling it off again, only to find uneven edges and drips. With a monochromatic look, you don’t have to worry about the borders between wall and trim. Even if you go the traditional route of using matte paint on walls and semi-gloss on the trim, overlap will blend easily into the background.

black walls and trim

charcoal walls and trim

martha stewarts guesthouse


A popular embellishment to not only the monochromatic look, but to the saturated color trend in general, is to use high-gloss or lacquered paint for the entire wall.  The high sheen adds instant glamour to any space. Keep in mind that high-gloss paint will show even the tiniest bump or flaw, thus requiring extensive wall prep. Application is best left to the professionals. Check with local painters to find one with lacquer experience. The process can be more expensive than standard painting, as as it requires special equipment (lacquer must be sprayed onto walls, creating toxic fumes). Even if you opt for the manual application of several layers of high-gloss paint to approximate the lacquer look, quality high-gloss paint can be pricey.

glossy blue walls and trim

glossy gray walls and trim

Another variation on the monochromatic color scheme is to carry the same paint color all the way up onto the ceiling. This bold and unexpected look is sure to add energy to the room. It works beautifully in rooms with sloped spaces, as shown here:

2011 Idea House, EscondidoHorseshoe Bay, TX 78657

monochromatic red paint

Yet another variation is to paint trim just slightly darker or lighter than the walls, so that the look remains monochromatic, but with added depth and detail.

pale green walls and trim

Matching walls and trim is most often seen in traditional spaces, as they are inherently more likely to have elaborate trim in the first place. However, the look can be applied to modern spaces, too, particularly those with beams or varied ceiling heights. The modernity of the style comes from the act of extending color beyond the “expected” boundaries, not from the trim itself.

modern pink walls and ceiling

This design trend really isn’t about what’s hot right now. Rather, it’s the result of individuals thinking and decorating outside of the box to create spaces that reflect their unique style and personality. Classic white trim can look fabulously chic or charmingly simple, but it is not the only option.  Don’t be afraid to experiment with color!

For more gallery wall inspiration visit my Pinterest page:

Image Sources: Thom Filicia, Atlanta Homes Magazine, Veranda, Martha Stewart Moments, Beach Studios, House & Home, Steven Gambrel, Houzz, Love is Speed, Martha Stewart, House Beautiful

3 thoughts on “Design Trends: Monochromatic Walls and Trim

  1. Couldn’t agree more! It’s argued you get more depth by using a white trim, but if done well, like that ‘blue room’ in your post, I think you get more depth without the white. Thanks for the post!

  2. Aw, this was an incredibly good post. Spending some time and actual effort
    to produce a great article… but what can I say… I hesitate a lot
    and never manage to get nearly anything done.

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