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Painting over orangy-wood trim + doors

    bathroomdoortrimOur home, like most that were built in the early 1990’s, has oak doors and trim throughout the house. The kind of doors and trim that are very orangy in real life. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

    The doors are great quality, so those will all stay. The baseboard and door trim, however, is a bit more skimpy and ornate than we would prefer, so those will eventually be replaced.

    Our long term plan is to update all of the floors – upstairs will be carpet, downstairs will be wood – at at that point, we’ll pull off all of the trim and replace it with thick, flat white baseboards and trim (like in our old house).

    But in the meantime …

    I’ll be honest, we never talked about painting all of the trim. But then we started our mini kitchen makeover (read about it here), and the window trim just wanted to be painted charcoal.

    kitchenfaucetThat led to painting the french doors and down to the base boards.

    dogbowlsand over to the bathroom door.

    bathroomdoorsmAnd, actually, we kind of love it.

    bathroomdoorWe will still pull off the base and replace it when we do the floors, but for now having it painted this beautiful, rich Iron Ore instead of the orangy tone is making a huge impact in the space.
    door So how exactly do you paint doors and trim?

    If you’re me, you just do it :) Slowly, in the evenings, while watching Holiday baking shows. It’s so monotonous and mindless and delightful. But I’m a bit crazy, so whatever.

    There are ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ways to paint cabinets, doors and woodwork and I’m pretty sure I do it all ‘wrong’.

    But here’s the thing: it works.

    We painted the cabinets in our old house and they have held up really well for 8 years and counting.

    So while you should consider all of the options for painting – like which paint type, whether to spray, roll or brush or if it is best to hire a professional, I will also say that if you hate the orangy trim in your house and you plan on taking it all out in a few years anyway (or even if you don’t!), go ahead and paint it. You will be amazed at what a difference a can of paint can make.

    Here are the supplies needed:


    Paint | Brush | Sandpaper | Sanding Block

    The first step is gently sanding the surface of the trim and doors. This is just to take the top sheen off slightly and give the paint a bit of texture to adhere to. Just a quick hand sanding with 120 grit paper does the trick. I like to cut a sheet in half and wrap it around a foam sanding block to give me something to grip.

    Next, wipe off sanding dust and tape edges. I hate this part, but it makes it easier in the longrun.

    For our trim and doors, I’m using Behr Marquee Semi Gloss Enamel paint in Iron Ore (a Sherwin Williams color). If you are planning on keeping your trim longterm, you might want to upgrade the paint. Or don’t. Your choice. We went with the top quality at Home Depot on our kitchen cabinets and the trim and doors and have been very happy with the results.

    I just brush it on going with the grain of the wood using a 1 1/2″ angled brush. The one I use was about $10, so definitely nothing fancy, but also not the cheapest brush you can buy.

    brushI did two coats of paint (no primer) and it covered perfectly. As you can see below, the brush marks are slightly visible, but as long as you brush with the grain of the wood and use smooth strokes, it blends in well.

    doorwreathIt has been fun to start transforming our house to look a bit more modern and updated, while sticking to the classic, slightly cottagy feel. My goal is to keep the trim and door painting going into the entry and living room and maybe (maybe?!) I’ll have it done before our family arrives on Christmas day.

    So, my friends, that is how I am painting the trim and doors in our house.

    I will reiterate, if you have the same orangy wood trim and it drives you crazy, go ahead, choose a paint color and paint it. Seriously. It will give your home an instant update. Will you look back in 20 years and wonder why you painted over perfectly good wood trim? Maybe. But I don’t know. There is just something compelling about enjoying your home today and transforming it into your style. I’m all for it.

    Don’t forget to follow along in instagram for daily updates!

    58 thoughts on “Painting over orangy-wood trim + doors”

      1. We painted the walls first, then the trim. You could do it either way – I just find it is easier to start with the lightest color and do the dark last to help with touchups.

    1. I love the dark doors and trim! I, too, have orangey wood and am dying to paint it. I also have “lovely” 90’s dark green tile floors, so maybe painting baseboards a color (light or dark grey) vs white would lower the contrast?? What do u think?

    2. I love what you have done! I’ve been dying to paint my orangey trim for years??!! The floors in my foyer/hall/kitchen are 90’s dark green (I know, right?) and so while I adore fresh white trim I hesitate putting it next to that green. The kitchen cabinets are a honey oak and the hardwood wood floors in adjoining family room and rest dining rm & living rm are also a honey/slightly orange color–I think dark might work with green floors but not sure about areas with wood floors? What do you think?

    3. I loved this tutorial so much! Your doors and trim look really rich. Did you take off the door hinges when you painted, or did you just tape them up and paint around them?

    4. Hi! I have a house built in 2009-dark stained cabinets,dark granite&beige trim..along with tan tile backsplash. I have a few simple updating ideas,but worry that it won’t all go and I’ll wish I never messed with it! I love what you’ve done with your old house and new one- do you ever give advice?? I wouldn’t be scared if I knew you ok-ed it!! Haha

      1. We are thinking about adding in some design services in the new year and would love to help you out! It does help with the fear a little if you have other opinions you trust helping (and a good design board!). I will keep you posted!

    5. Oh this is lovely! My husband is about to pull the trigger on painting our orange-wood kitchen cabinets all white and then I saw this! Sadly, we have a mostly black granite counter top and orange-wood floors so not sure we can pull it off but I love your space because it looks so clean and fresh! I’m going to ask him to hold on the white cabinets….any suggestions?

      P.S. where can I purchase a gold framed mirror like the one in your bathroom?

      1. Don’t hold off on white cabinets – if that is what you love, go for it! I love a white kitchen but I felt like white was going to be too stark with the existing gray tile floors and black/white granite. So we went for a more blended in look with the charcoal cabinets. I do love how it all works together! White cabinets are classic and I bet it will look great in your kitchen!

    6. Question – Is your french door metal (or aluminum or whatever they are made out of if not wood)? If so, how did it take the paint? Mine is not the same white has my trim and it drives me insane!

    7. Oh my goodness… you were on your hands and knees a whole bunch getting the baseboard painted. That is the hardest part of the job, isn’t it?

      I have a tip to add… use a wider brush… 2 1/2 inch angle makes the job go so much faster. Seriously… go purchase one and give it a whirl… you’re welcome!!!

      I’m one that usually likes my trim to disappear… but I have to say… you’re winning me over with these deep charcoal. ;)

    8. This is such a timely post for me! I just finished a first coat (red paint) on some interior “back stairs” in our little cottage … and as I was painting I thought … next I’m painting the bedroom doors! One thought I had was to paint the bedroom doors different (subdued) colors .. but maybe all iron ore gray would be nice too (what brand paint is iron ore?)

      I also paint doors still on the hinge (much to my husband’s dismay) :)

    9. HI Emily…do you have the Iron Ore “recipe” to give to the Home Depot paint mixer or do I just bring in the paint sample card? Thanks!

    10. I don’t get how you keep up with your blog and are still able to paint and do everything else required for the holidays! You are super woman and I admire your tenacity.

    11. I love your style! I had a painting/faux finish business for many years and encouraged my clients to step outside of their comfort zones and trust me. The results were often surprising to them – in a good way – and transforming. Good for you for encouraging others to do the same. I always say, “It’s o my paint. If you don’t like it, you can paint it again.”

    12. mary beth at

      Beautiful! I love the color you chose. I just painted our wood floor white – crazy and I’m so excited about it. Just have to put the finishing touches on my home office and I’ll be revealing it. I too have been doing a little bit here and there, no rush.

      1. We’re going to paint the wood floors in my studio white, too. It’s risky … so many opportunities for dirt to really show, but we’re giving it a try anyway :) I can’t wait to see yours!

    13. I love that last paragraph. Yes, paint it now so you can enjoy it now! So many times, we hesitate to do something because we think we might regret it. But why live with what we don’t love now just because we might regret it later? Great point, Emily! So helpful.

    14. Ok Emily…. for the hard question… have you started painting the trimwork in the rooms with carpet? How do you manage that without getting paint on the carpet?!? And how does one go about replacing the baseboards when you aren’t taking up the carpet. Umm yeah we may have forgotten about that when we had new carpet installed which I do not CARE because we do not use the word “HATE” in our household (something my grown sons LOVE to tease me about… “Remember mama we don’t say hate in our house… we say dislike or don’t care for said in a sing songy voice) If we end up keeping the house permenantly this girl is getting REAL wood floors throughout and cement counters. :-)

        1. I’ve done it that way when dealing with carpet and as long as you line up the tape really well it works great! Try to smash down the carpet pile when you tape it so you make sure you get low enough.

    15. I am totally loving the transformation of this home. I seriously get all giddy when I see a post from you in my inbox. Thing is, I realize it is temporary and for now, but gosh gosh gosh….I could be happy with it forever!!!

    16. Love the color! We need to do the same at our house – good quality wood interior doors have yellowed over time since they were originally painted white. However they have a thick glossy laquer coat on top. Do you think your method of sanding and painting would work ok on them?

    17. I love it… its inspiring. We moved into a 60 year old house and all of the trip is painted some shade of green. We have attempted painting over it white, but even with primer, that has proved difficult and the white comes out with a strong yellow undertone… so I like the idea of going darker. But I have a question, do you have any photos of what the transition would look like from one room the next if those 2 rooms had different trim colors, but the woodwork connected at the baseboard at some point? I am having a hard time envisioning that.

    18. Did you take the doors off when you painted them? I have basically all the same color trim in our home and I’m not a fan. I would love to paint it all white, my issue is that we have a pretty open concept, so if I do one area I have to do it all. I love the Iron Ore color you chose though!

      1. That’s the trouble … once you start, it is hard to find a natural place to stop!

        I painted the doors while still hung – just painting around the hinges as closely as possible.

      1. I painted the cabinet doors while on. In our old house, I took them all off and painted them in the garage. Both ways have their benefits, but for this project we were just looking for a quick fix rather than a long-term, perfect solution.

    19. wow! looks great and you make it look easy. think i could use the same steps on repainting my kitchen cupboards? they are builder grade brown, about 5 years old. I’ve been dying to paint them but so afraid of ruining them!

    20. I’m painting all my orangey wood trim also, but am painting them white. People should note that going from orange wood to white takes a lot more coats. I’ve been doing two coats of primer and 3-4 coats of paint to completely cover it. It’s a log of work but worth it. Are you taking off your doors to paint them?

    21. That looks super classy! I love it! I’m debating painting my doors black (or charcoal -that Iron Ore is pretty amazing!). Have you ever done a black door with white trim? I’m not ready to give up all the white baseboards and crown moulding, but I don’t want it to look odd for the door to be dark and all the trim around it to be white (I have plans to repaint walls Alabaster).
      Your new house is looking more and more like your home :) I love seeing it all happen, and you guys don’t waste any time!

    22. I’m so doing it! I’ve been drooling over photos of soft grey or putty trim with white walls. I think my house is asking me to do it, right??? Your home is SO MUCH like our new one. This is giving me courage!

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