Is Wood the New White? | Wood or White

Is wood the new white? Do you think the white trend will end?After a recent getaway to my uncle’s beach house where I was admiring the wood ceiling, I thought to myself, “are we all going to regret painting every inch of wood white in a few years? Trends come & go, but both white & wood have remained relevant, just used in different ways! Pouring through the blogs & Pinterest, you don’t see a lot of after photos of wood cabinets, shelves or trim.  You know I love white, but I wonder, how many years will this trend sustain? Will wood be the new white again? Until I can sort through my thoughts on it, I’m retaining the dark wood windows & doors in our “new” home. For now, I’m also keeping the fireplace & wood bookcases. They can always be painted later, but it’s extremely difficult, if not impossible to revert back. The question is, should you choose wood or white?

Is wood the new white? Balancing dark wood for a new look.

This dark wood window is balanced with a white kitchen. Absolutely gorgeous, isn’t it? {via House Beautiful} As I was contemplating this in my own home, friend & florist Erin Volante alerted me to a recent post by Making it Lovely. I was compelled to write my own!

To paint or not to paint? White versus wood.

I’ve started a new Pinterest board to collect my thoughts. What do you think? Will wood be the new white or will white shine for years to come? {image via Country Living Magazine}

I’d love to hear from you!

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  • Brooke says:

    My mom and I were just talking about this last night! She has oak trim she wants to switch out. I think the part of wood vs white that will stay around for quite awhile is the contrast of light and dark. In the pics above, the wood looks great, especially against the light walls. Likewise with white trim and walls that aren’t white. I’m not sure about all of the oak trim from the 90’s, that may take awhile to come back into style

    • Julie says:

      But it can be stained rather than painted! I don’t love oak, but think it can even work with the right balance.

      • MaryL says:

        Late to discussion. A few points. Most oak trim isn’t oak, it’s fir or pine or poplar stained to match stair parts or oak cabinets. A real oak door will run ya $600. Don’t touch it. The other thing is that contrasting trim is unphotogenic and can overload a room with gold and brown. If you have fully paneled walls esp as in photo, the proportions will be fantastic. Don’t touch that. If you have a ribbon of narrow brown stuff around contrasting walls and flooring, paint that out. It will look fresher. If you have deep baseboards and wood floors keep trim wood if the total ratio of wood to other materials looks right. I have a dining room with deep crown a chair rail and baseboard of meh wood. I painted it all and the room looks larger. In addition dining rooms have a lot of wood furniture anyway.

  • Janet says:

    I am in the midst of painting builder grade oak trim in my 20 year old house Cloud cover by BM in hopes that it will make it more “sellable” . I love the darker woods, unfortunately mine were/are orangey. If I had great wood all the way around my windows Id keep it, just like those photos. By the way I tried staining a section of my bannister a gel stain by general finishes. It looks good, I’m just not good at it!

    • Julie says:

      Wood with an orange undertone is really difficult. I definitely think that painting your trim will attract buyers, Janet! I’m going to attempt gel stain in some areas of our home where the wood doesn’t match other rooms. Wish me luck!

  • I have had the same white or wood dilemma racing through my mind for years. I love both!!!
    I must say that I love the wood trim with the white kitchen…It is rather classical. Stained wood will never go out of style…look through the real expensive home photos…they have very beautiful wood trim. It’s a keeper.

    • Julie says:

      I agree, Lina! High quality wood, done well & balanced is timeless! I could only dream of a kitchen that gorgeous! Good luck with your decision!

  • Kristina Strobel says:

    I recently built a new home and fully intended to put white trim and doors in however every time I thought about it it reminded me of homes or apartments I had rented. I wanted a warmer atmosphere and the structure to look like it would stand the test of time. I kept coming back to ideas that were admired for craftsmanship and somehow that never seemed like white. Like a beautiful wood grain in a gorgous warm blend stain. So that’s what we did. We did wood and made our own stain blend that was just what our home needed. Along with very tall windows and wide trim. Wood Bannister mixed with black iron. Stained built ins and stone fireplace. I did do some painted cabinets in kids bathrooms and my kitchen has both. I did creamy white cabinets with black brushed handles and a large wood stained oven hood matching the stain with the wood island. It was a risky idea for me but it turned out fantastic. Any of it can always be painted. Though I appreciate the look of it exactly as it is now. Everything in our home is oversized so it made sense to me to give it a warm inviting atmosphere. But i still appreciate a clean classic white look at the same time. It’s all about your vision and what seems to evoke the atmosphere you want regardless of trends. Great topic! So now Julie when are you going to come see my house?! Ha ha

    • Julie says:

      Kristina, I think white moulding is often used to spare a little expense. Something about wood seems classic & grand, when done well. I can only imagine how gorgeous your home is! I cannot wait to see it myself. When building, you have the luxury of choosing finishes rather than having them selected for you. I think tall windows with heavy wood trim provides a beautiful balance I can only be envious of!

  • Celia Becker says:

    Hi Julie,

    I am in escrow on a 100 year old log cabin that is wood, inside and out. In planning the renovation I was actually considering painting some of the interior wood (not the actual logs) white. I think I will rethink this more seriously now, as you may be correct, white could soon become passe. Thanks for the food for thought!

  • Trina Howes says:

    With the poor economy over the last several years, I think the biggest reason for the white trim trend is cost. It is much cheaper to paint an inexpensive piece of wood trim or use faux wood trim rather than use a more expensive piece of wood like oak, cherry, etc. Also, there’s the trend of painted furniture. People are reinventing an updating old furniture by painting an therefore giving it a fresh new look. Much less expensive. I think as long as the economy is not doing well we will continue to see these trends of paint being used in design.

    • Julie says:

      Very valid point, Trina, I agree! I see the economy turning & can’t help but wonder if that will change.
      I love integrating both painted & wood furniture in our home. Thanks for joining in the conversation!

  • Leigh says:

    You’ve left me with a great deal of thinking to do! We are in the midst of a remodel, and one of the things I am (was?) planning to do is paint my kitchen cabinets white. They stand now a beautiful stained wood, but our home is small and the kitchen is open to the dining/living areas. So felt painting them white would open everything up and brighten the area. I’ve time and again wondered if this white cabinet trend would stand the length of time. I like to imagine life 20 years from now, would what I am doing look dated? Would we look back at this and think “what on earth was I thinking?” Much like the whitewashed oak fad of the late 80’s/90’s… or the avocado green/burnt orange look of the 70’s. I want something classic, timeless, and well styled. What to do?

  • Jil says:

    There is nothing prettier than crisp white woodwork. I’m just not a fan of natural wood. It feels heavy and it’s much more difficult to get a light airy feeling in the room. When I see a white kitchen on Pinterest I just have to pin it! When I see natural wood, I think, that would be so much prettier in white. I loved all of the white in your KC home. It just wouldn’t seem right to go ‘dark’ in your STL home.

  • Well since we’ve been painting wood white for about 50 years, I don’t imagine we’ll regret it any more than people who did it then. The same rules will apply – if you want wood and it’s been painted, and the wood is worth refinishing, you strip it and start over. If it’s not you replace it. And it isn’t fun. There are lots of beautiful examples of lovely wood out there, which probably hasn’t been painted – because it is beautiful. A lot of what we paint now, is not a beautiful specimen and thus the paint. I do love the seemingly raw wood finishes mixed with white. Just beautiful!

  • Ann Marie says:

    This is something I have been contemplating as well. We just bought a 1986 home that has wide pine floors on the main floor and pine trim throughout the entire house. It’s not very orange-like, which I like, but it’s also not very dark. It’s in between, I guess. We live in New England where people really love their wood trim. I think it looks lovely with the floors, but I’m afraid it may be too dated. I figure I will leave it for awhile, give the house a fresh coat of paint, and see how it looks once we get our furniture and everything in there. I love the way white trim looks, but I would hate to paint it all just to have wood trim come back into style and have to reverse it all…

    • Julie says:

      I’d love to see it! Have you seen Melissa of The Inspired Room’s home? She has light pine floors & has made it work beautifully for her home.

  • Ashley says:


    I stumbled on your blog while trying to decide what to do with our home we just bought. It was built 8 years ago with mostly wood trim around. My first instinct was to just paint it white, but my husband thinks its beautiful and not to touch it. I brought in a designer and her first reaction was paint it all white. She also wanted me to paint the whole kitchen white as well. Is this just a trend? Is the wood contrast beautiful or dated? Help!!!!!

    • Julie says:

      I think wood contrast can still be beautiful – it honestly depends on the color of the wood & how heavy it is. I feel the 2″ wood trim isn’t worth keeping, but heavy 6″ wood is a keeper! Some areas value wood more than others. It’s true, painting a kitchen & trim white is the easy way to go, but there are beautiful ways to incorporate wood that will make your heart pitter patter. I have a Pinterest board dedicated to wood if that helps!

  • Glad I stumbled onto this. We live in a 1985 home… nothing is really updated, but I’m wanting to get it fixed up to sell sometime in the next 5 years or so.

    Our trim is med/dark stain, and our cabinets are raised panel oak – orangey – and they’ve darkened with age. I was going to paint them white, but with what I’m finding online, I’m having second thoughts. I don’t mind sanding them down and re-staining in a better color – or else using a gel stain to make them darker.

    I’m also considering painting some of them white and then restaining some, leaving them as oak.

    Decisions, decisions. I don’t mind natural wood – just want it to look updated. I’ll take a look at your pinterest pages Julie.

    • Julie says:

      Gel stain can tone down orange oak, if it’s actual wood vs veneer {I mention that because that era was filled with veneer}. Best wishes on deciding which direction to take!

  • Kim says:

    I don’t understand how wood trim can be unpopular when it seems everyone wants wood floors. I can enjoy all interior finishes when used in the right way. Wood trim around windows makes sense with wood floors upstairs. Wood trim around windows and wood floors downstairs seems like too much wood; I prefer stone or tile floors with wood window and door trim on the main floor. I am particularly fond of oak and stone. Regarding kitchen cabinets, I find that when I see white cabinets I imagine the old cheap metal ones or the thin pine painted ones of my youth. I just think of white as cheap and of wood as better, even though I realize wood can be cheap too. If I thought my wood cabinets were dated, rather than painting white, I’d explore other possibilities like a jewel-tone stain or paint. I also would prefer to remove the top cabinets, but I’d have to make sure I replaced the storage somehow, maybe with a ceiling to floor pantry.

  • Mary Jane says:

    Will be remodeling a kitchen open concept within a great room. It will include a dining room and small living room. The total size of room is 24 x 24. I want a 10- 12 ft island. The house is a ranch and I want a wood cabinet that is timeless. I like contemporary but feel I should be more traditional for resale. I know white is timeless but I think its high maintenance and worry about chipping.
    Please advise me of wood choices and stains? We are very budget conscious. Thank you!

  • Michele J says:

    Hello, my husband and I have a huge dilemma. We are in the middle of replacing our 90s wood windows with updated energy efficient vinyl windows. My husband wants to get the wood faux vinyl and it does match our natural oak trim well but I’m leaving towards the white vinyl to save money and have a cleaner look. I just don’t want it to look cheap. Our ranch house was built in 99 and we have all natural oak everywhere, trim, cabinets etc. We have vaulted ceilings so it’s mostly a more modern home. I do love the look of wood but our wood is not stained, so it’s pretty light. Do you think white windows with light wood trim would look cheap? I also think down the road we might want to change out the wood trim with white or should I say i, my hubby does not at all. We have colored painted walls in most of our rooms as well. Any advice would be great thanks!

    • Julie says:

      Personally, I only love real wood. To me, faux anything looks cheap. I would probably select white as well and think it will work. I hope that helps! Best wishes on your renovating adventures.

  • Charla Miller says:

    Looking to buy a home that has oak throughout the house, kitchen, built ins around the fireplace, bathroom vanities , etc. The house was built by a man; very masculine. Any suggestions to soften it? Can I paint oak?

  • Heidi says:

    I also just bought a house that has oak throughout (kitchen cabinets, bathroom cabinets, floor, banister, built ins, etc…). It’s a large home (5000 sq ft) built in 2003. Beautiful vaulted ceilings, with most beige or greige paint throughout. The trim and doors are all white. I’m thinking of leaving the oak because it is so uniform everywhere, and I want to focus my attention on the decorating. New furniture, decorations, etc. I was just wondering what you thought of this idea? Can I still make it my own with a modern feel? I know painting (or replacing) oak is popular now, but with the amount of oak in my home, I just want to leave it. Thank you!!

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