Though popular, white trim isn’t your only option. Consider going up or down on the paint swatch to choose a shade, or take inspiration from a wallpaper or fabric in the room. Here, striped wallpaper inspired for the blue-gray trim and ceiling color. The glossy finish reflects the light, making the space seem more open and airy.
Ceiling color: French Gray, 18
Available at Farrow & Ball
When choosing a finish for your trim or ceiling paint, designer Steven Gambrel suggests taking stock of what is on the wall. "A shiny surface attracts attention," he says. "If you have an interesting wooden ceiling like this one, paint it high gloss to reflect the light. Of course, if it’s riddled with recessed lights and smoke alarms, just keep it flat."
As a general rule, reserve glossy finishes for doors, trim, furniture, or other features you want to highlight. Keep walls flat or "eggshell." However, glossy finishes that can be wiped clean with a damp cloth are ideal for workspaces prone to messes.
Steven Gambrel advises painting doors a shade darker than the walls. "I love dark doors," he says. "They express movement and wear and tear, so painting them white doesn’t work for me."
Wall color: Summer Shower, 2135-60
Trim color: White Diamond, 2121-60
Door color: Deep Silver, 2124-30
Available at Benjamin Moore
Bookcases are ideal for showcasing collections of books and favorite items. Give them a fitting backdrop by painting the backs, sides, and shelves of your bookcases a color that contrasts with the walls.
To give a room more architectural interest, consider painting the moving parts of the windows a dark shade. This will draw attention to a lovely view or break up an expanse of one color.
White trim isn’t the only option for light walls. Here, putty-colored trim defines the room, and dark doors and window sashes match the ebonized floors.
Trim paint: Platinum, 7-29
Door and window paint: Obsidian, 33-17
Available at Pratt & Lambert
Give your stock kitchen cabinets a custom look with just a few coats of paint. Here, three different colors were used to give the kitchen the feel of a modern cottage. The beaded board, subway tiles, and recessed panel doors are classic touches, while the muted colors and sleek countertops have modern appeal.
-- By Jennifer Bonds, Assistant Editor