Category Archives: Painting Tips

Ideas For ‘Picture Frame’ Wainscoting


When I meet with clients for color consultations, I’m often asked to give painting ideas for walls that feature chair rails or wainscoting — namely ‘picture frames,’ which are a series of ‘shadow’ boxes created with narrow strips of molding.

Ah, the joys of molding!  We love how it adds character and architectural interest to a space, but at the same time, when it’s time to paint, we are sometimes left baffled.  I don’t believe that there is a right or wrong way to paint walls that feature picture frames. Your decision really depends upon the mood you want to create.  For example, if you want a dramatic, lively space, paint the inside of the picture frames using a color that contrasts with the rest of the wall.  Picture frames naturally lend themselves to color, so it’s a great opportunity to add interest to your room.

Picture 8

Or, instead of painting, consider using a beautifully patterned wallpaper; it will turn your walls into a work of art and create an instant focal point {love this idea!}:



However, if you’re going for a clean, contemporary look, you can paint the wall and all of the molding with the same color.  The result will be a more subtle, understated space.  You’ll still have architectural interest but the picture frames now become the backdrop as opposed to the main feature.  This is a great choice if you want a serene space or if you choose to put the focus on your furnishings.




If a traditional space is what you have in mind, use a singe color on the wall and paint the picture frames a crisp white.  You can use two wall colors if you have a chair rail {one color above the chair rail and another one below it}, but make sure you’ve painted inside the picture frames using the wall color that directly surrounds them.   This is a classic look that puts the emphasis on your molding, and provides tons of architectural interest:

after dining room


Picture 3

In a traditional or cottage style, you’ll often see white wainscoting on the bottom portion of a wall, while the top half of the wall is painted a different color.  While not my favorite choice, a white wainscoting does bring a light and airy feel to a room.  Again, there really is no right or wrong way to approach picture frame wainscoting.  You don’t have to go color crazy because the molding is already a feature.  Just determine the style and mood you want to create, and go for it!

{Click on each picture to see its link.}

For more trim, molding and color scheme ideas, see Ideas For Painting Your Trim.

Ideas For Painting Your Trim


My clients often ask me for advice on which paint colors to use for trim and molding.  So, I wrote a post about decorating with picture-frame wainscoting, and to my surprise it has become the most popular story on my blog.  Needless to say, I thought it was time to do another post about trim.

{Cleverly ‘camouflaged’ picture-frame molding by mhouseinc}

Painting any type of trim can be a challenge, especially when you want to do something other than white.  But it really just comes down to amount of impact you want your trim to have.  Do you want it to stand out and be a focal point in your space?  Or would you prefer that the trim blend-in and quietly reinforce the room’s color scheme?  If you answered yes to either question, then take a look at the following photos for inspiration:

{suzanne kasler}

In the room pictured above, the crown molding blends into the room because it’s painted the same color as the walls.  Design Tip:  For a subtle difference, paint the trim in a different finish, such as a lacquer or high gloss finish.

{trailer park gypsy}

Your trim will pop the most when you paint it with a vivid hue that contrasts against a more understated wall color or wall covering.



{the lennoxx}


Design Tip:  Create a monochromatic look by using two or three colors from the same color family, as shown in the photo above.


{house and home}

{design crisis}

For more tips on paint colors, trim and molding, check out Ideas For Picture-Frame Wainscoting.

Choosing Colors: What You Should Know About Paint Chips

I was just interviewed for a story about Decor Dont’s over at AOL’s ShelterPop.  Specifically, why you shouldn’t pick a paint color based on how the color chip looks in the store {never a good idea}.


Selecting paint colors can be tricky.  I always talk to my clients about how to choose colors, but I realized that I’ve never really blogged about it.  So, this post will be the first of many “How To” topics when it comes to color selection {I hope you’re cheering}.

In the AOL story, I mention how lighting affects color.  This is huge.  Most stores use ‘cool white’ fluorescent lighting that casts a bluish tint, even though you may not notice it.  Although the store may be well-lit, colors will look more pale than they really are.  On the contrary, most homeowners use incandescent {or a mix of} light bulbs that give colors a warmer appearance.

So, unless the lighting in your house is similar to a gymnasium, don’t assume that the colors will look the same at home as they do in the store.


Let’s face it.  Paint chips are fickle.  They will give you a good idea of how a color will look in your space but it won’t be an exact match.

In addition to being affected by lighting, most paint chips are very small, so it’s sometimes hard to see the color’s true undertones or level of intensity.  As a result, colors may appear stronger or slightly different when painted on a wall versus what you see on the paint chip.  For example, once you paint, you may discover the gold you selected looks more orange than yellow.

Not only that, but many paint chips always have their family members tagging along.  Colors are often grouped into ‘families,’ so that you can compare the different variations — light, mid-tone and dark — by looking at one large color card.  Comparisons are great, but when you’ve made your decision, always cut-out or tear-off the color chip that you like and give it a second look.


Colors are easily affected by other colors, and the one you choose could appear brighter or more muted just because it’s next to a family member.  So, isolate the color {exclude the white ‘divider’ line, also} and you’ll get a better feel for how it looks before you actually test it out.  Uh huh..say YES to the test!


It is always a good idea to test the colors at home.  Nowadays, most paint companies sell inexpensive sample-sizes, so there is no excuse to skip this step.  I know…not everyone does this and things turn out fine, but testing does ensure that there will be no surprises.  At minimum, paint a one-ft. square in the middle of the wall and observe it for a day or two.  This way, you can see how the color looks at different times of the day in various lighting conditions.

I know it’s tempting to paint your test-square behind the door, low to the floor, or in the closet, but don’t do it.  This will not give you a true sense for the how the color will look in your room.  You’ll need to see how the color appears in natural light and in the evening.  I cannot emphasize how important it is to test out in the open!

{innexperience blog}

I know that some of you will still be hesitant to actually paint a test area on your wall.  “I’ll just use poster board,” you say.  I’m begging you not to do this.  Instead, inquire in the store about ordering larger paint chips, or you may be able to order them on-line.  Taping a larger color sheet to the wall will work better than painting on poster board, which absorbs paint much differently than your walls.  This is especially true if you’ll be painting over another color on the wall.


Finally {and most importantly}, be committed to the painting process, and if you’re not having a ‘painting emergency,’ don’t rush.  If you’re on the fence about painting or you’re in a hurry, you won’t be willing or patient enough to do what is necessary in order to find the right color.  Stay tuned for more tips on how to choose colors and paint a room!

Ideas For Painting Stunning Stripes


Colorful wall patterns always have a way of bringing tons of personality into a space.   Although it takes a little patience, stripes are one of the easiest patterns to paint, and the results can be simply stunning.




Vertical stripes will make a room’s ceiling appear higher while horizontal stripes will visually widen a room.  Horizontal lines will also give your space a more contemporary feel.




{In this photo, the wall is covered with fabric.  From archiexpo}

If ‘high-energy’ is what you want, it’s OK to use several colors.  The result could be electrifying, so you may want to reserve this treatment for one focal wall.


Of course, painting the walls is not the only way to bring colorful stripes into your space.  You can also look for a great area rug, furniture pieces or lighting fixtures.




{Love this lampshade!  From littlephant}

{What a great way to spruce up a boring, white ceiling fan!  From inmyownstyle}

A few more:

{google images}



There are so many different ways to express yourself with stripes, and the good news is, this pattern is classic and timeless. It will never feel dated.

CLICK HERE for instructions on how to paint stripes.