Mad About . . .

Monday Inspiration: Why You Should (Door) Frame The View

15th November 2021
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Once we graduate from student accommodation and start decorating our own houses it’s rare that we hang a picture on a wall without putting it in a frame. Of course this protects it (and the wall from sticky marks) but, if done well, a frame enhances the picture that it holds.

door frame views by @maxmademedoit

door frame views by @maxmademedoit 

Our homes are surrounded by natural frames and yet rarely do we take advantage of them to show off the best of the room beyond. I’m talking, of course, of door frames and today I wanted to show you a few views from a room that are brought together and enhanced by the [door]frame through which they are seen. And if you don’t believe me then imagine all the frames in white and see how the effect is lessened.

At the weekend I had dinner with a friend who I haven’t seen for a few months. Apparently as I was leaving the last time told her to paint her skirting boards to match her dark grey walls ( I may have had wine). She has just done so and said she couldn’t believe the difference it has made to the room.

image shot by polly wreford and styled by sally denning for her new book Calm

image shot by polly wreford and styled by sally denning for her new book Calm

The first three images (I’ll pause while you scroll back up in case you didn’t look closely enough on the way down) have used the door frame exactly as the name would suggest – to frame not just the door but to draw the eye to, and enhance, the view beyond. The artist Carol from maxmademedoit (great paintings for kids and grown-ups alike btw) has not only made the wallpaper look more striking with her bright green door frame but it draws your eye to the hallway.

Above, the door frame is in a darker shade of green than the walls, and note (because I am often asked) you can match the skirting boards to the wall rather than the door frame if you want. Yes, this is all wood but don’t feel you have to match the vertical door architrave to the horizontal base board if you don’t want to. The point being that the dark door frame draws your eye to the room beyond and the similar rugs in both link the spaces. This is an image from Sally’s new book Calm (which we will be reviewing on the podcast soon so I’ll show you more then).

interior design by emilie fournet blue door frame

interior design by emilie fournet blue door frame

This was part of Friday’s post but I’m still looking at the blue door frame (here the door, frame and skirtings boards do all match – see – no rules except don’t just reach for the white paint mindlessly) which leads the eye to the matching skirting boards travelling up the stairs and the blue green wall that is a contrast but a toning one so the feeling is one of calm while still allowing for intense colour. And yes there is white in there but the darker colours used not only enhance the shape of the staircase but also flip the traditional look of white walls and woodwork and colour only on fixtures and fittings.

image via atelierellis image by @horwoodphoto

image via atelier ellis image by @horwoodphoto

This room in the home of Cassandra Ellis, whose gorgeous paint I have used in my sitting room, is so simple but the blue window frame draws your eye to the view beyond and is a perfect foil to the copper bath below. There are many soft pinks and blues on her site and she also puts together the most beautiful palettes so you could just pick one and paint your whole house knowing that it would all fit together and you wouldn’t have to spend hours agonising over tester pots. One of my favourites is Il Fiorista (which is not a million miles away from what I have apart from the yellow) but for a slightly bolder selection look at Jay or for a cooler one look at Paradise Lost. And The Mad Husband has talked about repainting three times in the last month so clearly we are going to be changing something up soon – the question is what.

Below is watercolour from her collection and once again, although the door frame is in shadow it’s the yellow cushion that draws the eye into the room and that, my friends, is the kind of detail we are here for.

watercolour by atelier ellis

watercolour by atelier ellis

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  • Catherine Southwood 17th November 2021 at 9:23 pm

    Hi Kate – just wondering if you (or your readers) have any guidance on where to start/stop the contrast colour on a doorframe when going into a room with a different colour frame the other side. Do you need both sides to be the same or can you ‘stop’ the colour half way? I am about to paint all the doorframes and skirtings in my upstairs hallway in Dix Blue but ideally don’t want this to continue into all the bedrooms – any thoughts or advice would be gratefully received! Catherine

  • Elizabeth 17th November 2021 at 2:10 am

    After years of listening to your advice I finally started painting the trim, not white. It’s really wild how my childhood home has influenced me. I’m happy to keep what I love from my childhood home and try something new. The something new is in the total opposite direction, navy ceiling, trim, walls! I’m experimenting and having fun! The living room feels like a movie theater now. Hahaha. Thank you for encouraging us to push past fear. Even if my ideas are bonkers, it just paint!

  • Karen Allan 16th November 2021 at 7:47 am

    Yes I agree! Framing a view is important, whether it’s a picture, through a window, or a peek around a door. As others have said, very nice to see an Orkney chair there.

  • Pia 15th November 2021 at 1:06 pm

    So. I have a house built 1960. And the house does require white baseboards, white ceilings and white door frames. The house does not want elaborate crown moldings or chair rails or picture rails. It does not want any additional paneling or high baseboards with additional frills. It loves its clean lines, minimal crown molding, standard baseboards and mitered clean corners on the door frames all painted white.
    I tried to paint baseboards, window frame and crown molding in one room a darker color than my selected wall color but it did not look cool or updated. Just boring and wrong. I tried a different color but that was even worse. I have yet to see a mid-century house where the baseboards have another color than white and it actually works.
    Love the trend but I don’t think it works with a mid-century house.
    Or please, picture prove me wrong!

    • KPS 15th November 2021 at 1:16 pm

      Fellow 1960s homeowner here! I’ve had success using the same colour all over. Only moved in this year but now our bedroom is dark green everywhere, including ceiling. Living room has a lighter ceiling but the walls, skirting boards and doors are the same colour. Obviously I’m biased as it’s my home but I think it works well despite (or because of?) not having interesting architectural details to work with. I’ve also painted the coving to match the walls to make the walls look taller, which has had a big impact.

      • Pia 17th November 2021 at 10:01 am

        Hi KPS!
        Dark green sounds lovely! I have Morris Bramble green wallpaper in the stairs so totally in love with green too. That is the red thread in our home 🙂
        I tried to paint all but perhaps I should give it a second chance? I know that this house had blue windows and green baseboards when built. But when I painted it looked dated rather than new? Like living in a museum? Not fresh and modern. Perhaps it is something with the tones? Or sheen of the paint? Or just that I should use another color? Thank you for your reply! Appreciated!

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 16th November 2021 at 11:58 am

      No I think you’re right! Different houses want different things and the very joy of the 1960s houses is the clean lines and minimal style. This is not a post for the more modern house but either for a house with lots of features or possibly a period house where many of the features have been stripped out.

      • Pia 17th November 2021 at 10:16 am

        Hi Kate!
        I do love the clean lines and I love our home!
        I think that it could be done in a good way like KPS is talking about. There are just so few examples and after a failed attempt it is difficult to do it again 🙂
        But I do love that framing examples where one color follows through to the next room. That is just the best type of decorating! I think I will do that more with wall color and artwork and frames rather than door frames. 🙂

  • Ursula in Cádiz 15th November 2021 at 10:23 am

    You’re such an amazing teacher, Kate! Thank you for your lovely writing.

  • Vicky Wilford 15th November 2021 at 10:14 am

    Beautiful pics and post Kate! I totally agree the view through a door should be considered. Thanks again for the inspiration (now to go think about all our off white door frames…)!

  • Catherine 15th November 2021 at 10:07 am

    Oh I love the Atelier Ellis colour palettes…

  • Jane 15th November 2021 at 9:09 am

    With respect, framing a doorway in a deep shade ‘narrows’, somehow ‘restricts’ , an interior entrance….and, for me, so becomes less welcoming as an entree to a room. Of course, each to their own :)) And I too love the Orkney chair.

    • Patricia 15th November 2021 at 12:57 pm

      I think it depends on the room being entered. A living room or other public room does need a spacious welcoming entrance, and your point about dark door frames is one to consider. But if the door leads to a bedroom or small den/reading room, a dark door frame might signal “coziness.” It also depends on the hallway. I personally wouldn’t want a hallway full of outlined rectangles, but then again, I live in a small house with 8-ft ceilings and would hate the busy-ness. Something larger or grander could carry it off.

  • DrS 15th November 2021 at 7:41 am

    Lovely Orkney chair in that ladt photo

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