Should I paint my woodwork in my old house or not?
20 years ago even the question would have been sacrilege! Now, not so much. So this will be a very short column.
The beautiful trim of the Victorian and Arts and Crafts eras, gorgeous though it might be, makes a house feel heavy and dark. In our northern climates in particular, but across the rest of the country as well, light and airy is important to more people than not. It is an undisputed fact that it affects our moods. So today, we are clearly in a window of time very much like we were 40 years ago that has us painting all the trim white. Every decorating magazine you pick up, every blog you read, every interior design website you go to, white trim and white cabinets and light color prevail.
However, that does not answer the question precisely. As it seems to always be true with me, the answer is, “it depends”. If you have a house with museum quality trim, still in its natural state, in great condition, then I would not suggest that you paint it for any reason. Trends come and trends go. Although I don’t think this trend toward light and airy and open is going to pass anytime soon, you probably don’t want to be the one to paint that 120-year-old woodwork.
On the other hand, this is your home. Homes and castles everywhere are filled with painted or enameled trim. What really matters is the quality of the paint job and prevalence and quality of the trim. So the short version answer is do whatever makes your home beautiful.