My husband and I have been shopping for a new house for months and if we ever find a home that we both agree upon and that we can actually afford, it will be a miracle. Here’s one issue. While we both want a vintage place, we are divided on our preferences for original wood trim (husband likes; I don’t). All the real estate ads make a big deal about “original woodwork,” and I when I arrive at these places I feel the weight of history pressing on me the second I walk through the door. If I buy this place, am I morally obligated to carry on this torch of originality? In wanting to paint the woodwork white, am I as evil as all those developers who destroy old buildings to put up hideous new construction?

I turned to two interior designers, Laura Soskin and Jessica Lagrange, to get their two cents. Both were adamant: Paint it white! “Just because that’s how they used to do it doesn’t mean that’s how it should stay,” said Soskin. “White is modern—your house doesn’t have to look like grandma’s!” Lagrange added, “Many times, the wood itself is nothing special—just stained pine.” That made me feel better. Now I just have to find the house.

—GINA BAZER

Living room photo from Jameson Realty.
Soskin’s home photographed by Nathan Kirkman.

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To Paint or Not to Paint Wood Moldings?


My husband and I have been shopping for a new house for months and if we ever find a home that we both agree upon and that we can actually afford, it will be a miracle. Here’s one issue. While we both want a vintage place, we are divided on our preferences for original wood trim (husband likes; I don’t). All the real estate ads make a big deal about “original woodwork,” and I when I arrive at these places I feel the weight of history pressing on me the second I walk through the door. If I buy this place, am I morally obligated to carry on this torch of originality? In wanting to paint the woodwork white, am I as evil as all those developers who destroy old buildings to put up hideous new construction?

I turned to two interior designers, Laura Soskin and Jessica Lagrange, to get their two cents. Both were adamant: Paint it white! “Just because that’s how they used to do it doesn’t mean that’s how it should stay,” said Soskin. “White is modern—your house doesn’t have to look like grandma’s!” Lagrange added, “Many times, the wood itself is nothing special—just stained pine.” That made me feel better. Now I just have to find the house.

Living room photo from Jameson Realty.
Soskin’s home photographed by Nathan Kirkman.


My husband and I have been shopping for a new house for months and if we ever find a home that we both agree upon and that we can actually afford, it will be a miracle. Here’s one issue. While we both want a vintage place, we are divided on our preferences for original wood trim (husband likes; I don’t). All the real estate ads make a big deal about “original woodwork,” and I when I arrive at these places I feel the weight of history pressing on me the second I walk through the door. If I buy this place, am I morally obligated to carry on this torch of originality? In wanting to paint the woodwork white, am I as evil as all those developers who destroy old buildings to put up hideous new construction?

I turned to two interior designers, Laura Soskin and Jessica Lagrange, to get their two cents. Both were adamant: Paint it white! “Just because that’s how they used to do it doesn’t mean that’s how it should stay,” said Soskin. “White is modern—your house doesn’t have to look like grandma’s!” Lagrange added, “Many times, the wood itself is nothing special—just stained pine.” That made me feel better. Now I just have to find the house.

Living room photo from Jameson Realty.
Soskin’s home photographed by Nathan Kirkman.

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6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

I have this same dilemma in my house! I want to paint it white (feel a little guilty about it, but not horrible) and my husband wants to keep it wood. The white, I think, will make it so much "happier" and cleaner.

If we paint the trim and doors white, what do you do with with a staircase banister and stairs which are also wood and in the same room? Paint them black? Any ideas?

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

I would paint them black if you want to have a more finished look. But either way, I'm sure it will be fine as is~

6 years ago
Posted by sxf

What exactly (or, at least, roughly speaking) is a "vintage place"?

Are they the same as simpleyu "old hosuses/appartments", or do they have some certain defining characteristics?
Are vintage places in Chicago different than in say, Boston?

Can one take a decidedly non-vintage place and turn it into a vintage place?

Just curious, what you think about it...

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

I think that painting wood is ruining wood. You are destroying the woods natural beauty and I think that if you are having trouble deciding maybe you should actually think then you will get the right answer!

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