There are two reasons to create drama by using wild color woodwork in rooms.
Traditionally, color woodwork — to be clear not white, ivory or natural wood tone — is for historical houses. But traditional isn’t a reason these days when everything’s personalized. So I can see two reasons for putting dramatic color on interior house trim. One is to show it off, because it’s fabulous. Two is to make it blend because it’s ordinary or it needs to be subordinate to other design elements such as wall pattern or murals. Care must be taken to not misjudge the impact of color on trim or risk a “what were they thinking” result.
I briefly considered painting our woodwork an unusual color last year. Briefly is the operative word because my test patch looked so odd. In 1924, when our apartment building went up, the transition was underway from elaborate Victorian-style molding in earlier buildings to simpler Art Deco motifs. The moldings weren’t interesting enough to be highlighted by color. Yet somehow I’m fascinated by color woodwork and continue to collect examples. Jane T also spotted a few of these with her eagle eye and sent them along to me.
New York designer Meg Braff does a high wire color act – particularly in the flesh-pink living room with celadon trim [top]. Since the two hues are opposites, each is intensified. But what puts the green over in this room is the attention it draws (heck it screams) to the elaborate classical horseshoe window molding, the Doric pilasters, center window seat and the beefy crown molding that helps unify it all. This color scheme is so unusual I really would love to meet the owner of the house – and see the rest of it.
Diamond and Baratta are known for their bold print combinations and pastel schemes – this dining room is typical. I adore the 40s-style valences for the check curtains and their playfulness against the otherwise staid dining room mural wallpaper. So it makes sense that the doors, wainscot, fireplace and crown molding are painted the same Baroque blue as the wallpaper background to blend.
Lavender living room walls are not easy to calibrate but in the hands of top color consultant (and rug lover) Barbara Jacobs they work beautifully with standard moldings painted “out” in the same hue.
Dark, gray-green woodwork always has a masculine air and works perfectly in the corner of this mannish bedroom by New York designer Robert Passal. Draperies match the woodwork to help make the space coherent — especially given the contrast of muted persimmon walls and the tiger-print broadloom jive on the floor.
Black-and-white toile walls with Grandma’s nail-polish red woodwork is another bold statement and a play on Chinoiserie by Meg Braff. This scheme does, I admit, look a little harsh in the daylight but at night with the lights low, red – even on woodwork – never fails to produce a romantic glow.
(Source: megbraff.com, diamondbarattadesign.com, robertpassal.com, integralcolor.com)
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