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Painting walls two colors as split by a chair rail

56122 Views 13 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  RHeat
Hi guys! I just happened on this site while trying to find some information on Google. My new husband and I are getting ready to start our first project... the living room makeover! I'm removing carpet and putting down a medium honey toned laminate floor. I am thinking I'm going to paint all the existing corner-round and molding white, then add a white chair rail all the way around. I want to paint the bottom portion (under the chair rail) a sort of robbin's egg blue and the top portion a beige color. The new couch will most likely be dark brown (because we have black sheddy dogs!)

My questions are: Do I want to paint the molding so that the chair rail matches or get quarter round and molding to match the floor (an expense I don't necessarily want)? Then, if I match quarter round and molding to the floor, do I need to match the chair rail? And finally, Do I go lighter in color above the chair rail and darker below or is it vise verse?

It seems like there would be some rule of thumb there.


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Do not know that there is any sort of rule but usually the section under the chair rail would be darker as if to have some substance on which something above it could rest. If you make it lighter and put a heavy color on top it can look like it is floating and on something not solid enough to hold it. Some elegant papers might look nice in your situation if you have the budget.

Now I lost you at one point. Are you trying to just use 1/4 round between the wall and floor. I think this could look rather anemic without some sort of baseboard. I would lean toward painting all the trim the same color. Or leave it all natural wood finished.
i think it looks better when the shoe molding matches the baseboard. I installed chair rail and some shadow boxes and painted the wall from floor to chair rail the same as the trim.


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Nice job and even though the trim is all white, the moldings give a sense of weight or anchor on which the maroon walls seem to fit.

I agree about matching up moldings to match. Only thing to watch out for is that you keep things in perspective. Nothing looks goofier to me than 4' of wall taken up with trim in a room with 8' floor to ceiling new construction rooms. Room can end up looking like a giant "Smore" or something.
Wow! Thanks for the great, quick responses!

I think when I used the word 'molding' I meant baseboards. I'm not an expert at these things, but I can get the job done! My husband is more of a technical guy and I suspect he'll be financing the operation.

I really like the look of the shadowboxes you have, Danny, but it seems a bit too formal. The reason I want the chair rail is because we have a semi-open floor plan where the kitchen runs into the living room and then into the front room.

@sdester, that's kind of what I was thinking with the colors. Thank-you.
@DannyT, I did some similar shadow boxes in my first home on the kitchen cabinets! It was a cheap, quick and easy update to some horrid old plywood cabinets!

What a difference it made!
As sdsester said, darker on the bottom, lighter om top and keep all the trim the same color.
its amazing what a few dollars of molding can do. as far as being too formal, it is a formal dining room and my wife wanted something appropriate so i obliged her. gotta keep her happy. if the wall around the shadow boxes was a different color it would change the look completely.
Wow-- when I read your post, I thought I had written it, LOL! We also have an open floorplan, and we did a two-tone paint treatment with painted chair rail, and added laminate flooring. Our house already had oak-colored baseboards, so we just got flooring to match and the baseboards blend well with floors. The color combination we used was from a color combination paint chip card from Martha Stewart (I don't think they're available anymore, or I'd look them up). The walls have that awful knock-down texture, so it took quite a bit of paint, and we actually used the darkest color on the narrow chair rail (and painted a couple of accent furniture pieces the same color as the rail). Our ceilings are only 8', too, so we used a fairly narrow bed moulding, painted the same color as the ceiling. It gave a nice finished look, without overwhelming the walls. Without exception, everyone who sees our place loves the colors and the effect. Using narrow mouldings and baseboards has worked well with the scale of the room. We had never done anything that bold before, but it was worth it. Good luck!
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I think it would be nice to add a stencil on the wall above the molding instead of painting it solid or using wallpaper.

With low ceilings, and a chair rail, would lighter on top and darker on bott om make the ceilings seem lower? Going to do the chair rail white and all trim. Doing the walls a light tan on top and darker tan on bottom. Should this make ceilings look lower? Room is 18x24 den but is a little dark.
Danny T

The chair rail and dining room look beautiful. What color paint is the red and white?
Since you're doing this wall from scratch, my advice is this to save you lots of painting trouble. This will give you perfect lines with no effort.

Draw a pencil line around the wall where the middle of the chair rail will go. Paint the bottom half of the wall dark, up to the line. You don't have to be perfect because the chair rail will cover this paint transition area. Paint the top half light, down to about the line. Cut your chair rail to fit, and then before putting it on the wall, paint it the trim color. Finally, install the chair rail. Depending on if there are any visible gaps, you can then caulk and touch up with paint if necessary.
i think it looks better when the shoe molding matches the baseboard. I installed chair rail and some shadow boxes and painted the wall from floor to chair rail the same as the trim.
that looks great
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