My Go-To Trim Color, and Why I Chose It (Plus, Revisiting the W/C Wall Decision)

Have you seen the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray? I feel like I’m stuck in that movie right now. I’m at the trim stage of the master bathroom, which always takes way longer (and many more days) than I think it’s going to take when I begin installing the trim. All of the finishing work — wood filling, sanding, caulking, priming, and painting — just seems to drag on with no end in sight. But yesterday, I finally got the last of the sanding, caulking, and priming finished, including finishing up the repair on the ceiling in the main part of the room (the shower ceiling isn’t finished yet), and I was finally able to get to my favorite part — the painting.

Having taken all of that time doing all of that prep work, it’s always to incredibly satisfying when I’m finally able to start painting and seeing just how much all of that prep work pays off. The painting is still in progress, and it will probably take me a couple more days of work to get it finished.

I’m always so amazed at the huge difference between primer and paint. You can see the huge difference in the picture below, where the trim on the side wall is painted, but the trim around the mural wall is only primed. The primer is so stark white, but the painted trim (Behr Polar Bear) looks bright and clean without looking harsh. It has just a slight touch of warmth to it.

I’ve used Behr Polar Bear for my trim color since our condo days. I selected it when I did the condo kitchen remodel, and the reason I went with Polar Bear is because it went the best with the Daltile subway tile that I used on the kitchen backsplash. Once I selected it way back then, I loved it so much that I just stuck with it. And here I am today, almost a decade later, using white Daltile tile in our master bathroom remodel, and using the same trim color to match. You can see above just how beautifully the Behr Polar Bear goes with the white Daltile tile.

When it comes to choosing which sheen to use, I break from tradition. The standard paint sheen that is generally used on trim is semi-gloss. But if you’ve been reading my blog for long, you know my issues with sheen. I don’t like shiny paint (unless it’s supposed to be super shiny, like a beautifully and perfectly lacquered piece of furniture). So on my trim, I always use satin sheen. It’s still easy to clean, and it’s still very pretty without the shine of semi-gloss. (I had just painted the trim in the photo below, so it was still wet. That’s why it’s shiny.)

And then for my walls, my go-to sheen depends on the brand of paint that I use. If I want a reasonably-priced paint, I choose Behr Premium Plus in an eggshell finish. If it’s a room where I want to use a higher quality paint, or if I’m using a really dark color and don’t want any shine at all, then I use Benjamin Moore Aura in a matte finish. And example of where I used that would be the dark teal entryway wall. I didn’t want any sheen at all on that wall, so I needed a matte finish, and Aura is the absolute best, in my humble opinion.

But back to the bathroom trim, I just love how the Polar Bear looks with the tile. I’m anxious to get the trim on the mural wall painted! It’s so stark white that it almost looks blue.

The interesting thing about Behr Polar Bear is that while I think it looks amazing on trim, and it’s the only trim color I’ve used in over a decade, I don’t think it works on ceilings at all. So when I want a bright white ceiling, I always use Behr Pure White flat ceiling paint. I’ve made the mistake on a couple of occasions of using Polar Bear on drywalled ceilings, and it was awful. At certain times of the day, the ceilings looked like a very light pink. Although these days that might not be so bad since I love pink now, but I still prefer a true white with no undertones on my ceilings.

The one exception is the music room. Since my ceiling in there is a wood slat ceiling, and it’s pretty much an extension of all of the trim work in the room, I carried the trim color onto the ceiling.

Interestingly, that ceiling has never appeared to have red undertones. So there’s something about that color painted onto drywall that’s different about it being painted onto wood. I can’t explain it. I can only report what I see. And based on my own experiences, I can say that I’d never again try to use Polar Bear on a drywalled ceiling.

On another topic, let me get your opinion on something. Y’all know that I’ve gone back and forth on what to do on the walls in the toilet area (the area on the right behind the mural wall). The area on the left is the shower, so obviously, the walls are tiled. I had originally planned to tile the walls in the toilet area to match (because of my need for symmetry), but then I decided that I didn’t want those walls to be tiled. My main reason is that tile is just so cold. So then plan had been to just paint the walls white (the same Behr Polar Bear, which would be warmer than the stark white primer that’s on the walls now, and would come closer to matching the white of the subway tiles

But the idea of having plain white walls just hasn’t set well with me. I don’t want tile, but I’m just not fully on board with plain white walls. So yesterday, the idea came to my mind that I could do a slatted wood wall. It would basically be my music room ceiling applied to the walls of the toilet area. For that ceiling, I used 1/4-inch plywood, so I could do the same and cut the strips to the same height as the tiles on the shower side. And since I have that in other parts of the house (not only the music room ceiling, but I also have the stained version in the hallway bathroom ceiling), it wouldn’t be a diversion from the style that’s in the rest of the house. (But please, lets not call it “shiplap”. 😀 )

Anyway, what do you think? It would give some interest to the walls so they wouldn’t be just plain white drywalled walls, but it wouldn’t be cold like tile. I think I like the idea. I think. 😀

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  1. I think doing the wood slats would add a very nice bit of symmetry to the lines of the tiles 🙂 Will you be doing them horizontally or vertically?

    1. What a great idea! I like the texture of what you will be doing (and I am so over hearing about shiplap!) 😊

      And glad to hear you are a fan of Aura paint too—I’ve had nothing but excellent results with Aura.

      Beautiful bath—thank you for sharing the journey and end results with us!

    2. I think it would draw attention to it not being tiled and would also draw attention away from the mural. Once the cabinet is there it will look different than it does now.

      1. Completely agree – wait and see what you think once you have the cabinetry in there. If you still need color I’d recommend the same (or a bit lighter) color you have on the bathroom walls which would echo the mural background rather than compete with the mural.

      2. I agree with Julie B. Once you get the cabinet in there you may not see much wall and the slated wood may actually be too much. And with tile in the shower, the mural and slated wood it sounds busy.

        1. Agree to skip the wood. Besides the cabinet, once the room is about done you will probably want to add some coordinated art to add color and interest.
          Whatever you decide, the bathroom is gorgeous!!

        2. I thought the cabinet was going on the wall opposite the opening to the toilet room, not across from the toilet??? But I am not “on board” with the board wall. I personally would want tile, but just on the wall to the right of the doorway. Paint the others, as they won’t be as noticible.

  2. Since you asked, 🙂 I vote for no slatted walls. I think that it will look a bit odd with the wainscoting in the same room to have a different wall treatment. It’s too much and completely not needed. Just paint it. It looks off right now because it’s not finished.

    1. I agree. If symmetry is what you’re going for, adding a slatted wall would seem to call more attention to the fact the walls are different. Paint the wall first before you decide.

    2. I vote no too – because you are going to get dark shadow lines between the slats and the difference between that wall and the shower will drive you crazy. You don’t get those shadow lines with grouted tile.

      I would go ahead and paint. Finish all the other projects – the trim, your vanity wall and the cabinet in the toilet area. If you still need some kind of texture on that wall you can deal with it then without having to imagine how it will look with all the other stuff in place. I’m betting that once everything else is done that blank wall will bother you a whole lot less than it does right now.

      1. Let me just add – any textural application to that wall will draw attention away from the mural. Right now the mural stands out – as it should when you look in that direction. That’s another reason to leave well enough alone.

    3. Agree with you on this. That’s a lot of different stuff going on…I guess I’d still vote for tiled or paint. The cabinet will blur the lack of symmetry, anyway. But I trust you’ll keep at it until it is fabulous–and I’ll be convinced, whatever you decide to do.

  3. I don’t know if this would be easier or not, but you could take a router with a v-bit and put the horizontal grooves into a full sheet of 1/4 inch plywood and then hang that up. If you have a track saw, you could run the router along the track (or, I suppose, use the track saw set to an eighth of an inch depth, but i like the v-groove idea better for symmetry. Speaking of symmetry, if you wanted, you could also put little vertical grooves subway-style to mimic the tile.

  4. I would avoid the paneling in the toilet area, I think it becomes a tipping point where the space becomes overdesigned. Four different wall treatments in one relatively small bathroom is a lot!

  5. Since you appear to be entertaining not keeping perfect symmetry, I’d just continue the wainscoting and blue paint into the toilet area. Keeping that area white would be pretty sterile, while adding the same wall color and wainscoting would integrate it with the rest of the room.

  6. No slatted walls. Too many textures and different looks throughout the bathroom. Tile, mural, slatted walls, textured teal paint. It just seems like a lot. Once the cabinet is in there you probably won’t even notice the white walls….which is really what you want.

  7. I’m in agreement with the others that said it might compete with the wainscoting in the main room. My vote would be to continue the wainscoting into the water closet, and leave the upper portion of the wall painted white. I feel this would add some continuity with the rest of the bathroom while still maintaining the symmetry with the all white of the shower room.

  8. I think adding the slats, though pretty, would add another distracting detail and take away from the mural. Why not just continue the wainscoting into the area which would make it less sterile. Adding some sort of pale artwork in there that goes along with the theme of the mural would dress it up a bit. Remember you also have the back wall closets that will be another “distraction”.

  9. It’s getting closer and closer. Yaayyy!
    I love the idea of “slatted” walls being painted to match! I think that would look great!

  10. No slatted wall; it will not look right with the tile in the shower. I agree with those who say to get the cabinetry built and trim installed, then decide about the wall color/treatment. I like the idea of painting the walls white and then hanging some lovely artwork. Just my two cents’ worth!

  11. I read through the comments here, and while I’m not surprised by the responses, I don’t think slatted walls will be too busy *for you*. You like things a little busier in general. And painted white to match the trim, I feel they will be a subtle nod to the tile on the other side. And I think you will love that. My vote is to go for it.

  12. I say no to the walls. You are the queen of colorful artwork. Decorate it with color first and if you still aren’t satisfied then you can always add wood later.

  13. Could you continue the teal/white combo in that space? I worry that wood would be too many different elements.

  14. I love symmetry too, but I think I’m losing the need to see symmetry in these two sub-rooms. Not a fan of plain white walls here, but also not a fan of the white slatted walls idea. I like the idea of continuing the wainscoting on the other side of the dividing trim, but I am also liking the idea of continuing the beautiful blue into there too. Maybe best to wait and see after you get the cabinets done. Exciting!