To paint or not to paint?

Being based on the North Shore in Sydney, I am often consulting on home renovations or redecorations of Californian Bungalows or Federation homes. Many of these homes have dark timber trim on the interiors, which the home owner either loves or hates. I’m often asked whether the client should keep it as stained timber or paint it.

Californian Bungalow

It’s interesting because more often than not it’s the man of the house that wants to keep the timber and the woman who would like to have it painted.

Timber trim in Californian Bungalow Interior

The dark timber looks quite heavy and makes the rooms feel very dark and old fashioned. This doesn’t always suit the lifestyle of today’s families. Most would like the home to feel lighter and brighter.

Timber trim in Californian Bungalow painted white

Now there’s no right or wrong answer here and it will really depend on the room, the décor, the house and the inhabitants as well as who has the most sway in the relationship!

Federation House Interior

But I think one should also consider what features they liked about the home when they bought it too. Sometimes it’s the period features and feel of a place that makes people part with their money. You don’t want to then start deleting all those features once you move in.

Formal room with timber trim

I saw this photo in the real estate listings and thought it was a great example of working the dark timber into the décor and making it look fresh and modern.

Bedroom with white timber trim

It would appear the formal room has been left with the original dark timber trim while the timber in the other rooms have been painted white.

Renovated Californian Bungalow

That’s a great way to keep some of the original features yet create a contemporary space for the family.


If you would like assistance choosing a colour scheme for your period home, contact us for an online or in-person consultation.

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  1. we have a home in ryde…nice and ig but a lot of timber trimmings/frames/panels inside. we need some help deciding whether to paint or retain/adjust or combination. cheers mark

  2. Thanks for this analysis. I am facing that exact same problem with my California bungalow and my husband! the problem is also different wood stains in different rooms as it evolved over decades. We are compromising and doing bedrooms painted trim and lounge areas wood. Cheers!

  3. Hi Eliza

    Yes that’s a very good compromise. I have recommended that to clients in your position too. I’m sure it will all look fabulous.


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