I Disagree, David Bromstad

May 20, 2014



In the new June issue of HGTV home magazine, I read an article where David Bromstad, host of HGTV Color Splash, answered paint questions from homeowners. One of the questions was:

“What wall colors look good with dark woodwork? I don’t want to paint the trim that’s original to my house.”

David answered:

“Dark woodwork can be incredible, but only if the wall color majorly contrasts with it; otherwise it will look like a haunted house. That’s why I would go with white.The lighter the walls, the more high-end the trim appears.”

light walls2


This is where I disagree with the very talented David Bromstad. He is saying that you should use a white paint color for contrast to really make the woodwork stand out. But why would you want woodwork to stand out? ‘Hey, look at me’.

light kitchen


When I design a room, I select a wall color to bring the furnishings, window treatments, rugs and accessories together for a cohesive look. But if you have that much contrast between the wood color and the wall color, that is all you are going to notice in the room. If that is the look you want, then I would advise you to go for it. But just be aware, there will be a high contrast, wood-bossy look in the room.

wood and white kitchen


If you want your room to look together and cohesive, I suggest using a color that works with the wood. That’s why I love the greens with stained trim, here and here:

brookside moss


I think it looks natural and beautiful together. So I am really sorry David Bromstad, I do not agree with your white paint and dark woodwork combination. It is too high contrast for me. Readers, who do you agree with?

If you need help selecting wall colors for your home, contact me today.


  1. I’ve got differing views on this topic.

    1. If you’ve got some beautiful old, dark woodwork and want the high contrast with white (or very pale walls)then make the rest of the room work with that. Make sure there are other dark elements in the room too. Example: I designed a living room with dark woodwork, creamy white walls and red patterned chairs (floral and striped), coupled with a dark chocolate brown sofa. Other elements of the room were darker as well. It had a very English pub look. It ‘worked’ because there was a ton of light in the room all day.No dungeon effect here 😉

    2. I realllly dislike what is very common in my area: Bright white walls and medium oak/orangey stain! It says ‘builder grade’ to me. In a case like that the wood tone is cheapened by white walls. Most of those homes I see don’t work on getting other elements to soften the high contrast which to my eye (in this case)is not a good contrast in this example.

    So David I agree with you only if the woodwork has a “pedigree” that needs to stand out: that is beautifully preserved wide baseboards and trim such as you’d find in older homes (circa 1800’s to 1930’s).

    Today’s narrower trim done in dark stain with white walls looks like eyeliner on a very pale face with no other makeup to me….just saying 😉

  2. I agree, Kelly! I have the same dilemma with pine woodwork that I can’t change. My sofa and loveseat are deep navy and I have teal blue accents. Just had a chair recovered in a cream (yellow undertone) chenille and have 2 navy/off white ikat chairs. Hardwood floors. I tried beige – tan colors and I just don’t like them in there. Should I go for Navajo white walls?

  3. I agree with you Kelly. I have natural wood cabinets, wood floors, woodwork and one wall in my living room that is all wood with a fireplace. The walls were painted white and I hate it! There’s too much contrast between the walls and the wood. I’m thinking green, too.

  4. I never do white with dark trim. I don’t want the woodwork taking center stage with a high contrast. I agree with you too.

  5. I saw that color sound bite too.

    Sometimes I wonder about the “designer quotes” about color in magazines. Wonder if this tidbit really encompasses David’s color point of view or if it is indeed just a tidbit.

    What’s so great about your blog, Kelly, is it gives you a platform to fully share your point of view with us. I happen to agree about green and wood tones. The combo has worked out well for every tree I’ve ever seen. So, must be somethin’ to it.

  6. Lol- you go girl! I agree with you, but this ongoing discussion of real wood v. painted wood is a head scratcher to me. Unless the trim is “pedigree” (as Connie says)then the overall look can be cheap builder’s grade. Paint away and lighten that room! However, if you must keep the woodwork dark, my biggest dilemma is that I am not a fan of dark wood and dark walls-feels more like an old castle than a warm and welcoming home. And I’m not a fan of green : ( So where would I go from here?

  7. My house has painted doors throughout, including kitchen. All are off white, including the trim. I want to put in two wood finished doors in the family room to give the room more depth. Would my house look out of balance by not making these doors painted to match the rest of House?

  8. We have a 1895 house with beautiful stained wood trim. When we bought the house, it had beige carpet throughout. We ripped up carpet in the living room and had the wood floor underneath refinished and had it stained a darker, not-so-yellow tone that better matches the trim. For the wall color in our dining room, I chose a medium-dark neutral gray and a lighter tint from the same color family in the kitchen. In the living room, the gray is a tad bit warmer. We really like the grays next to the stained wood as while it brings out the warmth of the stained wood, it definitely balances the intensity you see all around in the background, making a neutral yet interesting backdrop for nearly any decor or color scheme. We have a very colorful area rug in the living room with a light gray sofa, darker gray loveseat and a neutral red chair. Accents vary from more modern to traditionally antique items.

    • Sounds beautiful Liza! I like the medium to darker grays with the stained wood trim. I think white walls are if you want to highlight the trim, which many do not. Thanks for writing!

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