Black Windows, Kitchen Crown Molding, and Selecting a Style

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Spring is here and I am loving it! I wanted to thank you all for your well wishes on last week’s announcement. Your support means the world to me and I’m so grateful for you tuning in each week. 

Without further ado, let’s dive into the mailbag. 

This episode, we discuss…

[1:54] Painting exterior windows (Libu) 

[5:58] Updating a builder grade kitchen (Lisa) 

[12:07] Determining your style word (Melissa) 


[1:54] Painting exterior windows (Libu) 

I am in contract for the house with the white windows. However, I am obsessing over another house with black windows. Betsy, is it okay for me to paint these vinyl windows trim black? I only want to paint the exterior black because I think it will significantly elevate curb appeal.


Your current home is like an off white stucco that has some kind of squares that are rectilinear stone detailing in the front. It’s overall cream, but it has a black brown roof and front door as well as garage door. Right now as you mentioned, the windows are trimmed in a white vinyl. 

The picture you sent me is very similar home stylistically, truly the only difference in terms of the touch points I just talked about is that these windows are indeed framed in black. As you know, I focus mainly on the interior, not typically on the exterior so I don’t know all the ins and outs of painting this, but that’s why Google is here. 

I completely agree with you that the curb appeal of the second home is much more dynamic but painting vinyl windows according to the is a hot mess. It’s very hard to paint the vinyl, it typically peels and is very hard to get it to adhere. You have to use not only a special paint, which Benjamin Moore does offer for painting vinyl, but you also have to use a very heavy duty primer because not only are you painting vinyl, but you’re painting exterior vinyl which is going to be exposed to the outdoor elements. 

The other thing that gives me pause is that whenever we’re painting something a very dark color, whether it’s an interior wall that you’re going to make navy or an exterior window that you’re going to paint black, you have to do so in an absolutely perfect manner. Any imperfection is going to be very conspicuous because the contrast is going to be so high. I’m just concerned that not only will it look shabby over time, it may look shabby the minute you do it if you’re not super precise. 


[5:58] Updating a builder grade kitchen (Lisa) 


I married into a builder grade home from 2002. The kitchen is open to a dining area and the family room. The kitchen cabinets are a dated cherry tone and do not go all the way to the ceiling. I want to paint, install crown molding throughout the house, and have the cabinets painted. 

We are also replacing the counter and installing backsplash. I cook every day and have a very hungry household full of active teenage boys and an active husband. I work from home and spend a lot of time here so I don’t want to go another year hating my kitchen.

I do not have the budget to replace the cabinets and really they are very sturdy and functional so replacing them would seem like a waste.

What do I do with the cabinets and crown specifically? Should I install crown on the wall over the cabinets? On top of the cabinets? On both the wall and the cabinet? How do I transition between the non-cabinet wall and where the cabinets start? 

I’ve seen people put in like a box that extends the cabinet to the ceiling which creates a weird dead space. I’d rather not do that as I have LED lighting on top of the cabinets that really brightens up what can be a dark kitchen, but I’m willing if that’s really the best option.

Please don’t judge me too harshly for the clutter. Embarrassment at the current state has prevented me from asking questions before but you asked for questions.



Lisa, you and I have very similar situations in our kitchen. My cabinets do not go all the way to the top. I have crown molding throughout my space. First thing is if you’re going to have crown molding in the other areas of the room. And this is like an open concept that opens into those areas that also have crown you need to continue in here. So that’s an easy answer. 

You’ve told me that this is an open concept space, you’ve told me you were installing crown in the other areas, you must install crown here too, or it’s going to look really silly that you stopped. Also, I don’t tend to prefer boxing in the top of the cabinets. In other words, creating sort of this false soffit that’s kind of got empty space behind it and it’s just sheet rocking all the way up so that there’s not an awkward space between the top of the cabinet and the ceiling. 

On top of my cabinets in my very transitional/traditional kitchen, I do have additional molding. It’s not the same as the crown molding, it’s got kind of a dental feature. Dental molding kind of has what looks like little teeth actually. So this little kind of rectangular up and down up and down that mimics teeth and also has a little bit of Crown after the dental detailing. 

The reason I’ve pointed that out is because I have two types of crown. One type of crown that’s very simplistic and goes up to the ceiling and continues throughout the room and one type of crown that looks a little bit different. It doesn’t just mimic the crown that’s touching the ceiling but it adds a little bit more panache to the cabinets. Now my crown is stained the same woodtone as the cabinet so it looks really good like one piece, it doesn’t look like it was added later. 

I am worried that you may find over time depending on the color that you’re painting these cabinets if you’re painting them like a white or a light color, because the crown won’t be stained the same tone due to this deep cherry underneath. I’m worried that over time, with sun and other considerations, you may find that the two yellow or change color at different rates so the crown may not look consistent with the cabinet tone for very long. 

If you do something that’s not white, like a gray or a green, then you’re not going to have that problem in the same way but white does tend to yellow over time. It really depends on the style throughout the space.  I’m worried that putting that additional crown in this room, especially if it’s quite different stylistically, might read a little bit too antiquey for your style. If your style is contemporary, I would not do additional crown on the cabinets. And if your style is transitional or definitely traditional, I would put the crown on top. 


[12:07] Determining your style word (Melissa) 


For 3 years we have lived in a modern designed Townhouse built in 2013. I cannot pin down my design style. I know the feeling word is Calm as that how I feel at home and calm is the first thing everyone says when they visit. Sophisticated as the 2nd comment. Your house is so grown up and you have teenagers!

Style word is my issue. 10 years ago everything was Pottery Barn but it was too heavy for me so not Transitional. I have now replaced and furnished my home from West Elm and Crate and Barrel but I would not say I am MCM as I do not like obvious MCM and orange wood. I am not modern farmhouse. I am highly allergic to nature – dust, soil grass etc so that vibe doesn’t conjure relaxing feelings for me in my home. I’m not as minimal as Scandi or as off beat as Boho.

My house is being painted BM Simply White. I have warm undertones with brown flooring, off white accessories with green pops. My house is full of faux plants to bring in nature without the allergens and my green accent. I like clean lines ie no carvings or live edges. Think easy care and no dust hiding holes. I like texture but it’s all washable monthly. My dining room accent wall I change yearly to keep my interest. Last rendition was faux marble. I believe my style is modern classic but that’s not a style word.

I have attached 3 photos (1) my open plan dining and kitchen. (2) living room which is overlooked by the dining room. (3) A close up of my living room rug to show it is off white not the gray it photographed as.

Thank you Betsy. I really enjoy listening to your design process and about your clients and especially your honesty about your home isn’t a show home. 



So this space is really cool. I am seeing the wallpaper. I’m seeing the elements for sure. It’s very relaxing, it’s very calm. I hate to be boring, Melissa but this is just contemporary. Your space is contemporary. All of these things are things that are of the moment available now. 

I agree that this doesn’t feel mid century modern. It could feel a little Scandinavian, but it’s just very clean, simple lines, a mixture of everything that’s in stores right now. You’re not referencing any previous time period, you are contemporary. So I hate to make it just that easy. Because that seems a little bit like a cop out. But when it fits, it fits and your style is contemporary. 





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