Don’t Just Paint Your Ceilings White!

Don’t Just Paint Your Ceilings White!


When most people think paint color, they think walls. When most people think ceilings, they think white paint. There certainly isn’t anything wrong with white ceilings, they are great for reflecting light in dark rooms, but you may be missing a great design opportunity if you go with white ceilings.

Add Depth and Dramatic Flair

Interior designers recognize that ceilings afford another color canvas that can add depth and in many cases a dramatic flair to a room décor. By adding a different color or lighter color value of the wall color, you can transform a nice room design into a stunning one. 


Selecting a Color

The first thing to decide is the hue value (shade of color) you want for the ceiling. What type of ambiance do you wish to create in each room? Will a darker color give the effect you want or would a lighter color work better? How you decide? Start with the height of the ceiling to help narrow your choices.

High Ceilings

One of the biggest challenges for high ceiling rooms is creating a cozy feeling. The sheer vastness of the empty space overhead can dwarf any room design. You can compensate for this visual by opting for a darker ceiling. This design technique will create the illusion that the ceiling is lower and decrease that feeling of empty space.  A darker color for a high ceiling will also enhance that cozy warm appeal of a room décor.


Average Ceiling Height

While a dark ceiling is ideal for high ceilings, you can also use a dark color for a normal ceiling height. You can go for a dark ceiling when wanting a more intimate ambiance to a room, such as a sitting area in a master bedroom or a dining room where you create memories with family and friends.


Illusion of Higher Walls

If you wish to make the walls of a room appear taller, then go with a lighter ceiling color. Select a lighter value of the wall color. This will reinforce your color palette and add another layer of color to your room design. 

Two other techniques include:

  • Paint two to four inches of the ceiling perimeter with the paint you used for the walls.
  • Use the wall color on the ceiling to create the illusion of higher ceilings.  

Introduce New Color with Ceiling Paint

There are times that a different color is the perfect addition to a room design. You can repeat the ceiling color as an accent color throughout the room décor with accessories, pillows and art.

  • Green ceiling in a blue and brown room can give just the right depth and accent color.
  • A medium blue or lime green ceiling will pop against brown walls. Don’t be afraid of color.


Tray Ceilings

You can use one or more colors to highlight a tray (also trey) ceiling. Depending on the design of the tray ceiling, add a color to accentuate that it is different and an effective architectural feature to the room.

You can either paint the entire tray ceiling the same color or select several colors, much the same way you would with colored mats for framing a painting.  Decide on the effect you desire and go with either bold or subtle color changes.

When to Use White Ceilings

A white ceiling can often help you create the ultimate dramatic effect for a room design. If you use white as one of your two primary colors in your room décor, then a white ceiling will become a natural part of that color palette. A white ceiling can be just the stark contrast you want for this kind of room design.

Make It Count

If you’re going to add color to your ceilings, then make it count. The color you select should add depth and blend with the rest of the color palette used in your room design.


All photos: BEHR


AuthorSally Painter

"Everyone can have a beautiful home decor. It just takes a little creativity," says author and freelance writer Sally Painter. This former commercial and residential designer is also a Feng Shui practitioner and believes that, "Everything you choose to put in your home should resonate with you emotionally. If it doesn't - get rid of it!"