No, Sorry, It’s Not About Hair

It’s about paint.

Please, stick with me here.

As you know, we are replacing our living room carpet with bamboo flooring.  When choosing the flooring we decided to go with a really, really light, natural color.  You see, the room previously had white carpet and white walls, and it was all very bright and airy, and I liked it.  The only thing not all white and airy was/is the baseboard and window trim, both of which are very, very oak.

When choosing the new flooring we decided not to go with oak for a few reasons.  First, as I already said, we liked the light and airy thing.  Second, we figured we’d never be able to match the flooring perfectly to the baseboard and it would look like we tried but failed.  Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, I don’t want a living room that looks like an LDS cultural hall.

Most churches have what they call a fellowship hall, I believe.  LDS churches, on the other hand, have what we call a cultural hall.  This is just what we call it.  What it actually is, however, is a gym.  Specifically?  It is a basketball court.

LDS church building sizes are determined by the number of people in the congregation(s) that will be meeting in them.  If your congregation is large, you get a full-court cultural hall.  If your congregation in small, you get a half-court cultural hall.  If your congregation is unusually small, you get no cultural hall at all.  The men in these congregations weep, and put a fiery emphasis on missionary work.

At any rate, I didn’t want my living room to look like a basketball court minus the nets and foul line, you know?  I also didn’t want it to look like the interior of a log cabin.

So we picked a light, natural, airy wood and a nice new paint color, and . . . oh my word.  I think I might have to paint the oak trim white to make it all work.

Here is the problem:  I don’t paint perfectly nice woodwork, even if it is oak and I am not the biggest fan of oak.  On principle I just don’t do it.  People who paint perfectly good, quality woodwork are evil.  I am not evil.  I don’t want to be evil.

What should I do?   Oh, what should I dooooooooooooooo??????

Here are some pictures so that you can get an idea of what is going on before you tell me what to do:

living room before 
This is the living room after we took the carpet out, but before we did anything else.  You’d think I would have taken a picture before we moved the furniture out and took the carpet up, but I always forget to do that whenever we do a home improvement project.  Anyway, the border at the top is painted on, and I like it, and I want to keep it there.  Here is a close up of the border:

living room border
I picked a light green paint, I think it’s called River Reed or some such thing.  I doesn’t really look green in the following photos, but trust me, it is.  An earthy green.  Not a minty green.

But the green isn’t the problem.  It’s the flooring.  No, it’s the oak trim.  I’m not sure if it works with the flooring.  Especially when you consider that all the furniture that goes back into that room is also wood, none of which matches the oak or the floor.  I don’t mind that it doesn’t match the floor, but I’m afraid it will make the oak look extra out of place.  Anyway, here is what we have so far (the floor is not actually installed at all, I just put a few planks down for effect):

living room after 

living room after 2
Since I have left that white border with the pianos at the top, should I paint the baseboard white as well?  This would also mean painting the window trim on the front wall white.  And, as I said, I don’t paint perfectly good woodwork, even if it is oak. 

Not that there is anything inherently wrong with oak.  I don’t revile people who decorate with oak.  It just isn’t my first choice.  Actually, it would probably be my last choice.  That notwithstanding, it is still good woodwork in good condition and, therefore, does not deserve to be painted.

Will it work just fine as is?  Am I worrying about nothing?  What if I paint over the border and do the whole wall green?  Would that make the oak work better? 

Imagine that light, airy flooring surrounded by the oak trim and housing a bunch of darker wood furniture.  The piano actually isn’t too much darker, but it is brown rather than oak-orange.  The rest of it is darker.

What have I done?????  What should I do?????

This all would have undoubtedly come out in a more entertaining fashion, but I am also fighting a headache and some massive sound sensitivity at the moment.  So, sorry about that.

Anyway, I need ideas and opinions by tonight because the flooring is going in Saturday.  This means, if I have to paint the oak I must do it tomorrow at the latest.


More pictures:

IMG_0962 IMG_0963

22 thoughts on “No, Sorry, It’s Not About Hair

  1. Do you have another room where the oak trim would work? and you could replace the trim in this room with a paintable trim and paint it white? It is so hard to say without the furniture but the oak looks a bit like a dark stripe. In my house it would draw the eye down to where the dog hair lives…not good.


  2. I think you need to paint the trim white…I also suspect (please don’t hate me) that the oak trim has an oak finish on it, and if it is a glossy finish…you might have to sand the trim to make it paintable…

    (And I really like the green paint and the border.)


  3. myminivanrocks

    I know it’s not what you want to hear, but I also think you have to paint it white. The oak trim just looks too heavy.


  4. I like the oak trim with the new floor – I think it provides a nice contrast. However, I think what’s throwing it off is the border. I would nix the border and install oak crown molding – that would balance the room, tie it all in and make everything look intentional. It will also look upgraded and be better for re-sell purposes, if you’re worried about that.

    I understand how you feel about the oak – it’s not my favorite wood, either, but I think the bamboo flooring updates it. And it is classic for this application. I definitely wouldn’t paint it.

    And don’t worry about all your woods matching – they’re not supposed to. That’s boring!!


  5. I agree with everyone’s comments so far. The dark trim needs a coat of white paint. I also hate to paint decent looking wood, but sometimes it needs to be done.

    By the way, how many outlets are in that room anyway? We used to live in a really old house where outlets were an after thought. The current house hunting stint has reawakened my outlet awareness 😉


  6. Now I can claim no decorating sense whatsoever – none. But I agree with what the consensus seems to be, I think the trim would look best painted white. Actually I think it’d probably look very nice painted white, I think the room will look great when it’s done and with the white trim. You’ll have to post “after” pictures!


  7. Dianna

    I am not disagreeing with the ‘paint it white’ crowd, but I do have another consideration for you. If the entire rest of the house has the oak trim (mine does as well, by the way), then that one room will look odd if it’s the only one with painted trim. And it may not bother anyone else, but it will bother you. Until you eventually break down and strip the white paint off. Not that I’ve done that. Ever.

    My suggestion? Water-wash the oak. Add a tiny bit of white paint to a bunch of water and paint it on the woodwork. It will lighten the oak color just a tad, making it look better with your bamboo flooring, but you’ll still have a consistent ‘I am oak’ feeling throughout the house.

    Well. That was a novel.


  8. As a woodworker myself (I made the cradle my boys used) I fully understand your valuing of perfectly good wood. However, it has to go. A really good primer should be all you need, rather than having to sand the whole thing (SO not fun.) If you have do one room at a time, so what? DO NOT add oak crown moulding. If you ever want to sell, you will either have devalued your home, or have to remove it. Wasteful either way. White looks like the way to go. Hope we’re helping!


  9. I was so ready to vote on hair.

    I think white would look better in that room. However, if the rest of the house has the same oak trim it will look off in comparison to the rest of the house. I’m sorry, I’m no help. I might have been more help if it had been about hair. 😉

    Good luck with the room.


  10. I know how you feel about the border, but I would ditch that. I think the oak trim will be okay with the other furniture in the room, although if you want to be adventurous, the water wash sounds interesting…


  11. Nancy

    The consensus in the office is – whatever you do don’t paint the woodwork. You will regret it later.

    Since everything that goes into that room is dark, painting the woodwork white will not work out well. Plus all the other woodwork in the whole house is that color.

    I can’t wait to see the walls. The green sounds pretty, but it looks sort of taupe on the ‘net.


  12. Well, I don’t know if I will help anything, because I just have a question. Once the furniture gets in there, how much woodwork will you see? Is the empty room making the woodwork seem like more of an issue that it is? Curtains can cover the Window woodwork.

    I have a new house and all my woodwork is ecru, and I like the crisp look with my colored walls. I hate painting, but if the woodwork is really that bad I would paint it. I definately would not add Oak crown. That will make your walls look short and make the room look smaller. Crown looks best when it’s close to the ceiling color.

    Just my $.02


  13. Andrea,
    I’ve been wondering the same thing about the furniture downplaying the base board. And, you’re right, the curtains can hide the window trim to an extent.


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