9 Wallpaper and Trim Combinations

Pack a punch by pairing your wallpaper and trim.



Amoroso Design, original photo on Houzz

Wallpaper can add a combination of pattern, texture. and sophistication that’s hard to achieve with plain old paint. But if you opt for wallpaper without considering the color of your baseboards, crown moldings and window trim, you may be missing out. Choosing the right shade for your trim can enhance your wallpaper’s power in a room. Here are nine wallpaper and trim pairings to get you started.

1. Bold black. In 1850, when Andrew Jackson Downing published The Architecture of Country Houses, a detailed study of contemporary British design tastes, he found that baseboards were almost always painted black to hide dirt, and that the trim was always darker than the walls. Today, choosing a trim color for a black-and-white wallpaper seems like a no-brainer: Just choose white, the way we do for everything else, right? Not if you want the greatest impact, it turns out. Black trim will add potency to any wallpaper but is a real boon to those that already include black.

2. One shade darker. If you’re working with a two-tone wallpaper, pick one of the two tones and paint your trim one shade darker. This method works well even if your chosen wallpaper color is already fairly dark; unless you’re working with black or the deepest navy, a darker shade can probably be found.

3. Tone on tone. The tendency when working with monochromatic or tone-on-tone wallpaper is to go with the default white trim. If you have a white ceiling, this is a perfectly rational approach, to be sure, but it may leave all four walls feeling more like an accent than a colorful envelope for living. Instead, try saturating your trim with a richer hue similar in tone to the wallpaper’s dominant color. Alternatively, request that your paint purveyor color-match it to the wallpaper.


Eclectic Entry
, original photo on Houzz

4. Two-tone trim. It’s tempting to take for granted that all trim should be painted the same color, but as with most decorating customs, it’s just a suggestion. Playing with trim colors can allow for the execution of a more customized, detail-oriented design without a particularly custom price tag. Here, white makes the top and bottom of the room disappear so that the black chair rail enjoys all the attention. It’s a small, simple detail that, like a ribbon wrapped around a gift box, makes all the difference.

5. High contrast. You already went the pricier route of wallpaper over paint, so why stop there? Like a bold picture frame setting off a work of art, a high-contrast trim will frame your treasured wallcovering like the special something it is.


Lucy Call, original photo on Houzz​

6. Dark all around. To create an intimate, cozy library feel, it’s important to remember that dark colors tend to advance, whereas light colors recede. That’s why the rich coffee-colored trim complements the bookshelf wallpaper so well: The walls seem to wrap themselves around the room like a favorite sweater.


Rikki Snyder, original photo on Houzz​

7. Metallic majesty. Just because I always love to present a wild-card option, I can’t help but pitch a metallic copper trim against a romantic damask wallpaper. Mirrors can bring a glamour of their own to a dressing area or bedroom, and when they’re paired with another reflective surface (metallic paint, in this case), the room will absolutely glow under lamplight.


Siemasko + Verbridge, original photo on Houzz​

8. A starting place. Although I won’t assume that a can of yellow paint dictated the entire color scheme and wallcovering strategy for this room, it’s a sequence worth considering if you have more trim and paneling than papered wall surface. Even if you don’t choose your paint color first (and many would caution against this, since it’s much easier to match a paint chip to a wallpaper than the other way around), you might still approach the wallpaper search with some idea of what color you’d like to use for the abundant trim. To that end, choose a favorite color rather than a trendy one, to boost your chances of enjoying a bold decision for the long haul.


Richard Grafton, original photo on Houzz​

9. Smallest common denominator. For this English bathroom remodel, Richard Grafton took an earthy green hue from the leaves on the botanical-print wallpaper and used it to great effect on the wainscoting. When working with a multicolor wallpaper of three hues or more, try pulling out the color that appears as the smallest element or in the smallest quantity. Here, it’s the little leaves, not the more substantial branches or ample background, that informed the decision.

This article originally published on Houzz.com
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