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Vivid Reflections: Window Color and Black Trim Placement

This month I want to talk about window trim.  It is always a topic of conversation during consults, but this month I feel as though I’ve educated more clients about trim colors than I have in the past.  Choosing the right trim color is more important to making your exterior color palette jive than you might think. There are some things to be aware of that you may not have considered. Window color is the biggest factor and absolutely has to be paid some attention.

Color Matching The Windows

The best thing to do, and this is what I do first at every Exterior Consult, is match the windows. Most folks generally do not consider the window color when choosing a palette.  One of my least favorite looks is a house painted deep, rich colors, with say brown trim, but the windows are white.  It is obvious that the window color was an afterthought if even a thought at all.  Those deep rich colors would look better on a house that has bronze or black windows.


White Windows

White windows can be just as much of an issue.  There are many different colors of white windows.  Choosing the wrong color white for the trim can make your windows themselves appear dingy.  Sherwin-William’s Superwhite is a color that usually matches most white vinyl windows, but I still color match just to make sure. There are other trim colors besides white that can be used with white windows, of course.  If your white cannot be matched, I would suggest using a lighter variation of the body color, going at least two shades lighter (or darker) to still decipher a contrast.


Variations Of Tan Windows

Another combination I’m not a huge fan of is bright white trim with cream, tan or gray-green windows. I feel it’s better to use earthy tones in this situation, but again, matching the windows first to see what family of colors would best suit the rest of the house.   For example, if the windows have a touch of green, then you’d want to choose a body and trim color that works with those undertones.  I’ve seen many a navy house with white trim and tan windows and it is just not a great look.

White Body, Black Trim

Next, I want to mention a trend that is sweeping our area right now and has been for a couple of years…white houses.  More specifically I want to talk about the black trim that appears on these white houses, 90% of the time.  A question I am asked frequently: Should I paint all of my trim black if I’m painting my house white?  My answer is not so cut and dry, because it really depends on the house.  Trim size, window color, house style…these are all factors that play a part in making this decision.


If the windows are black, painting the trim black is something I would refrain from doing. If the windows are white, painting the trim black could be considered. The issue with painting all of the trim black on a white house is the contrast overload that can occur. Too much of a good thing is well, too much.  I would prefer to use the black sparingly, focusing those accentuating efforts on the eyebrows (or peaks), shutters, door, awnings…If the windows are white and there is a 2” piece of trim around each of them, that could be a different scenario. That could actually look great, but like I said, it really depends on the house.

Trim Size Makes A Difference

I recently did a color consultation at a home where each of the windows were trimmed in 5 ½” pieces of wood.  The homeowner wanted each of the window’s trim painted black along with all of the other trim on the house.  I explained how that would be way too much. She finally agreed to use the black as an accent in the areas I mentioned above. We’ll be painting her house in a couple of months and I’m confident she will be pleased with the conservative approach she decided to take.

Painting The Windows

An option that is a case by case situation as well is actually painting the windows.  If your windows are paintable, it may be a cheaper option than replacing them for a color change.  Caution!! Not all windows can be painted. this is something you’d need to explore your window manufacturer’s warranty for as well as discussing with your painter.


Trim reminds me of lipstick. It’s the last thing applied to complete the look.  It’s an important choice as the wrong color can really throw the finished product off in a big way. Even though the trim color may be a smaller noticeable amount than the body color, it needs careful consideration.  If you’re having trouble choosing the right exterior colors for your home, it would be best to have a Color Consultation.  I promise the peace of mind alone will be well worth the Consult fee. Give me a call to schedule: 816-500-7759.

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Mary Monroe
March 22, 2021