What Color Should The Chair Rail Be?

8 mins read
What Color Should The Chair Rail Be?

The color of a chair rail must complement the room’s overall aesthetics while serving its functional purpose.

You must consider various factors, such as the room’s existing color scheme, the desired ambiance, and the chair rail’s role in defining the space.

The color selection should contribute to the room’s visual appeal and enhance the architectural elements, striking a perfect balance between style and practicality.

What Color Should The Chair Rail Be?

While the choice ultimately depends on personal preferences and the room’s overall style, here are some examples to help you decide:

Soft White

A classic and versatile option, soft white chair rails work well in almost any room. It provides a clean and elegant look, especially with light-colored walls like pastel shades or off-white.

Contrasting Color

Opt for a chair rail color contrasting with the wall color to create a bold statement. For instance, if you have light-colored walls, consider a dark chair rail color like deep gray, navy blue, or rich espresso for a striking effect.

Matching Trim Color

For a seamless and cohesive look, paint the chair rail the same color as the rest of the trim in the room. This approach works well in traditional and formal settings.

Natural Wood Finish

If your chair rail is made of wood, consider leaving it with a natural wood finish. This brings a warm and rustic charm to the space, perfect for traditional or farmhouse-style rooms.

Accent Color

Use the chair rail to introduce an accent color that complements other decor elements in the room. This creates a cohesive color scheme and draws attention to the chair rail as a decorative element.

Wallpaper or Patterned Chair Rail

Take a creative approach by using wallpaper or a patterned chair rail. This adds a unique touch to the room and can tie in with other design elements or create a focal point.

Metallic Finish

For glamour and modernity, consider a metallic chair rail finish like gold, silver, or copper. This works well in contemporary or eclectic interiors.

The chair rail color should harmonize with the room’s theme and color scheme. Consider the existing furniture, flooring, and decor elements to create a cohesive and visually appealing space.

It’s always a good idea to test paint samples or consider mock-ups before making a final decision.

What Kind Of Paint Do You Use Under the Chair Rail?

When painting under the chair rail, choosing a type that provides a smooth, durable finish and complements the room’s overall design is essential.

The kind of paint you use will depend on your specific needs and preferences. 

Here are some standard paint options along with their advantages:

  1. Interior Latex Paint: This is the most popular choice for painting walls, including the area under the chair rail. Latex paint is water-based, dries quickly, and emits fewer fumes than oil-based paints. It is easy to clean up with water and offers various color options, finishes, and sheens. For most interior applications, latex paint is an excellent all-around choice.
  2. Eggshell or Satin Finish: These finishes are often recommended for the walls under the chair rail. They strike a good balance between a smooth appearance and durability. The slight sheen in eggshell or satin finishes helps to reflect light and make the surface more washable, which is beneficial for high-traffic areas like the lower part of the walls.
  3. Acrylic Paint: Acrylic paint is similar to latex paint but offers even better adhesion and durability. It is a versatile option, suitable for both interior and exterior applications. Acrylic paints are also more resistant to fading and yellowing over time, making them a great long-term choice.
  4. Paint with Primer: Some paint brands combine paint and primer in one product. If the surface under the chair rail is already smooth and in good condition, using paint with primer can save time and effort by reducing the need for a separate priming step.
  5. Low VOC or Zero VOC Paint: Considering indoor air quality and potential health hazards, consider using low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) or zero-VOC paint. These paints have reduced or no harmful emissions, making them a more eco-friendly and health-conscious option.

Remember to prepare the surface before painting by cleaning it and filling any holes or imperfections.

Always use painter’s tape to create clean lines between the chair rail and the upper portion of the wall.

Does The Darker Color Go Above Or Below the Chair Rail?

The darker color typically goes below the chair rail. This design choice helps ground the room and create a sense of balance.

The darker color on the lower part of the wall can visually anchor the space and prevent the room from feeling top-heavy.

The lighter color above the chair rail can open the room and make it feel more spacious. This color arrangement is common in interior design to enhance the overall aesthetics and create a harmonious atmosphere.

Should Wallpaper Go Above Or Below the Chair Rail?

Wallpaper is typically installed above the chair rail, not below it. The chair rail serves as a decorative and protective molding that helps to divide the wall into two sections.

Wallpaper is usually applied to the upper portion of the wall, above the chair rail, to create a visually appealing focal point or to add patterns and textures to the room.

Below the chair rail, it is more common to use paint or different wall treatment, such as wainscoting or beadboard, to enhance the lower part of the wall while keeping it more resistant to potential scuffs and impacts.

Can The Chair Rail Be Painted the Same Color As The Walls?

Yes, the chair rail can be painted the same color as the walls. It is a common design choice to maintain continuity and create a cohesive look in the room.

By painting the chair rail and the walls in the same color, you can achieve a seamless and unified appearance, blending the chair rail with the surrounding walls.

This approach works well when you want the chair rail to be more subtle and not stand out as a separate element.

On the other hand, if you like a more pronounced and contrasting look, you can paint the chair rail in a different color that complements the walls. 

How Do You Modernize a Chair Rail?

Modernizing a chair rail can breathe new life into a space, transforming it from traditional to contemporary.

Here are some examples to help you update a chair rail:

  • Color Palette Update: Opt for bold and contrasting colors to create a modern, visually striking chair rail. For instance, if the walls are painted in a neutral tone, choose a vibrant color for the chair rail that complements the overall scheme. Consider deep blues, emerald greens, or even a sleek black for a sophisticated touch.
  • Sleek and Minimalist Design: Replace traditional chair rail moldings with sleek, simple lines. Choose a chair rail with clean edges and minimal ornamentation for a modern look. Uncluttered lines will create a contemporary vibe without overwhelming the room.
  • Mixed Materials: Experiment with various materials to add texture and interest. Combining wood, metal, or glass elements creates a dynamic, modern chair rail design. For instance, a metal chair rail with a brushed finish can add an industrial touch to the space.
  • Continuing the Wall Design: Consider extending the chair rail design along the entire wall for a continuous and modern appearance. This can create a sense of unity and make the room feel more spacious.
  • Contrasting Finishes: Instead of painting the chair rail, consider using contrasting finishes like stain or varnish to showcase the natural beauty of the wood. This approach adds depth and character to the chair rail while maintaining a contemporary style.
  • Wallpaper or Wall Decals: Use wallpaper or wall decals above and below the chair rail to introduce patterns or artistic designs. This will add a contemporary twist and turn the chair rail into a focal point of the room.
  • Incorporate Lighting: Install LED strip lights above or below the chair rail to create a warm and inviting atmosphere. The soft glow of the lighting will add a modern touch and make the space feel cozy.
  • Artistic Touch: Use the chair rail to display small artworks or photographs. Lean them against the wall above the chair rail to add a creative and gallery-like element.
  • Unique Shapes: Experiment with unconventional chair rail shapes like diagonal or zigzag patterns. These unconventional designs can add a modern and playful touch to the space.
  • Contrasting Texture: Combine smooth walls with textured chair rail materials like beadboard or shiplap. This mix of textures will create visual interest and lend a contemporary flair to the room.

A chair rail can evolve from a traditional architectural element to a statement piece that enhances the room’s overall style by incorporating these ideas.

You can choose features that resonate with your taste and complement the existing decor to achieve a harmonious and modern result.

Can You Put a Chair Rail On Just One Wall?

Yes, you can put a chair rail on just one wall. Chair rails are not limited to being installed on all room walls; they can be used on a single partition for various design purposes.

Installing a chair rail on one wall can serve as an accent feature, protect the wall from furniture damage, create visual division in open spaces, or add a unique design statement.

When placing a chair rail on one wall, it’s essential to consider the overall balance and harmony in the room, ensuring that the chair rail height and design align with the existing decor and architectural elements.


What Rooms Should Have Chair Rail?

Chair rails are typically installed in rooms where the walls are susceptible to potential damage from furniture or daily activities.

Standard rooms where chair rails are often found include dining rooms, kitchens, hallways, and sometimes in formal living rooms.

Additionally, chair rails can be used as a decorative element in various other rooms, depending on the interior design and personal preference.

Can You Put a Chair Rail In a Bedroom?

Yes, you can put a chair rail in a bedroom. Chair rails can add a touch of elegance and protection to bedroom walls, particularly in areas where furniture like beds, nightstands, or chairs may come into contact with the walls.

Besides offering functional benefits, chair rails can also enhance the bedroom’s visual appeal and provide an opportunity to introduce exciting design elements.

Can You Put a Chair Rail In a Living Room?

Yes, you can put a chair rail in the living room. Installing a chair rail in a living space can serve functional and decorative purposes.

It can protect walls from damage caused by furniture or foot traffic, especially in high-traffic areas of the living room.

Moreover, a chair rail can divide the living room visually, introduce contrasting colors or textures, and add a touch of architectural interest to the space.

Regnar James

Hey there, home improvement aficionados! I'm Regnar, the quirky brain behind this Home Improvement blog.
I have 10 years of engineering experience and problem-solving skills in the building industry.
In 2021, I took the plunge into homeownership, scoring an ancient abode that's equal parts charming and... well, let's just say it's a "fixer-upper" in the truest sense. Owning a house gave me an idea to start this website.
So, grab a tool belt and join me in making home improvement a laugh-out-loud adventure! 🏠🔧😄

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