Posted by Lauran; fabulous photography by Peter Lyons

Recently we staged two more traditional homes in Berkeley, both with original (unpainted) wood trim. The “to paint or not to paint wood trim” question pops up often in the design world. While white painted trim really brightens up a space, we understand why some people prefer to leave the wood unpainted, especially when it’s in great condition.

The trade-off for the beautiful wood is that it often makes the house feel darker and more traditional. We were brought in specifically to make these homes more modern, lighter and brighter—to show buyers that a home with a lot of traditional wood trim and paneling can still be decorated in a more current way.

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We rely on two primary techniques to “modernize” traditional homes: color and clean lined furniture. In the photo above from the house on Colusa street, you can see how the colorful striped entry rug brings a playful, happy sense to the space as soon as you walk in the door.

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Throughout the lower floor of the home, the bright colors from the entry rug continue in the artwork, pillows, accessories and especially the chartreuse dining room chairs. These carefully placed colors combine with the white painted walls around the trim to lighten the home.

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In addition to the colors, we used iconic mid-century pieces, such as the Egg Chair (above) and the Eames Shell dining chairs, to provide a modern contrast to the wood trim and leaded glass windows.

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Note the simple, clean-lined dining room table we paired with the Eames chairs, as well as the ultra-modern bar stools we used for the kitchen nook.

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In the little sitting room that leads out to the deck we placed a love seat, which features the color and the clean lines, as well as a pair of modern global basket tables. This is a combination you wouldn’t expect to find in this type of home.

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The master and guest rooms had the trim painted white already. We added area rugs to freshen up the wall-to-wall carpeting.

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We also chose modern outdoor furniture to add a hipper vibe to the front porch.

The second traditional home we staged was on 66th street.

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Again, the white painted walls in the entryway helped to set a brighter tone against the wood trim, as did the gold rug, colorful artwork, and pillows.

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A very modern butterfly chair, the iconic Noguchi table and a new CB2 rug bring a fresh perspective to the living room.

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This particular dining room had floor-to-ceiling wood paneling on two walls, so we chose very simple and clean dining room table and chairs to tone down the formality.

These two homes show that modern furniture and accessories can breathe new life into a more traditional space.

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