Selecting Color for the Ceiling: The 5th Wall!

June 09, 2019

Often times people forget about the one wall that can play a huge part in tying a room together: the ceiling!  Providing sufficient lighting to a ceiling is vital, but when it comes to design, there are many ways to give your ceilings a little more love.

Option #1: Painting the Ceilings White

You may want to paint your ceilings a white hue if:

  • You have a lot of bright colors (such as furniture, decor, paint or upholstery) already going on in the room.  We’re thinking of a Bohemian or modern vibe, where the goal isn’t to have “color scheme” going on in the room.
  • Your ceilings are textured, or have visible imperfections.  (See Popcorn ceilings below if you have them.) Selecting a flat white paint will hide those imperfections better than any other sheen.
  • Your ceilings have stains such as candle smoke, kitchen grease, or other from a roof leak.  White can cover up those issues.
  • You have very little natural light in a room.
  • You have an open concept home, where the only separate rooms are the bedrooms and baths- it impossible to change the color of the ceiling because the spaces interconnect.

Option #2: Paint Ceilings & Walls the Same Color

Paint your ceiling the same color as the walls makes great sense if you’ve selected lighter hues for your walls.  It eliminates the “edge” between these two surfaces, unifying the space. It creates a feeling of an expansive space, and generally feels more modern.  It helps focus attention on the artwork, furniture and everything below, especially with the right lighting.

Painting a:

  • small room in a darker color will envelop it, making it feel more intimate than it otherwise might.
  • small room in a lighter color will expand it and it will feel more modern.
  • room with an oddly angled ceiling can help to unify the space.






Option #3: Painting Your Ceiling a Lighter Color Than the Walls

When you paint the ceiling a lighter color, it can make the walls feel higher and your space appear larger.  Adding 20% white paint to 80% of the hue you’ve selected is a common ratio, but keep in mind you probably want satin/pearl finish on the walls (satin/semi-gloss in a bathroom or kitchen) and flat on the ceiling, to hide any imperfections.  (It’s possible that the color you end up with isn’t what you want, so then just go 2 lighter on the paint deck, or try an alternative choice altogether.)






Option #4: Painting Your Ceiling a Darker Hue than the Walls

If you’re considering this option, selecting a hue 2-3 tones or shades darker for a sophisticated, polished look is often your best bet. If you want a high contrast look, then add more color to your ceiling.  Consider this option if:

  • You want a cozier feeling in the room.  If you use a warmer hue (like red-violet, red, red-orange, orange, yellow-orange or yellow), then the ceiling will appear closer, and lower than it actually is. If you use a cooler hue (like yellow-green, green, blue-green, blue, or blue-violet) then the ceiling height will expand.
  • You want to bring attention to your crown molding, amazing chandeliers, a coved ceiling, or other details on/near the ceiling.
  • If your walls are white.  This can provide a beautiful contrast and give the room the drama it might otherwise lack.

         Sara Richardson Design












                                                                                  Bilhuber Lee & Stuart Rolf Design

Option #5: Apply wallpaper

Wallpaper might be too much for you on all four walls, but if you want a dose of pattern, try putting it on the ceiling.  Have a wallpaper hanger to do this- it’s strictly for the professionals.  Yet it really can tie everything together.  It's a great way to add texture. (Nothing is more boring than a white ceiling.)  It's a way of injecting visual interest and pattern without overwhelming the room.

Ceiling Painting Tip! If your walls are white and the ceiling has a flat, smooth surface, consider painting your ceiling a softer color such as a lighter peach, a sky blue, or a very light gray to give your space a breezy feel. It’s the next best thing to white! Further, a sky blue ceiling on an outside screen porch or three season room will give you the feeling of bringing the outside into your room.

Popcorn Ceilings

Hmm… what can we say?  Popcorn is great to accompany movie night, but not so good on ceilings.  It was popular in the sixties through the early eighties, but isn’t today.  It was used to cover imperfections in the ceiling by contractors, Want to get rid of them?  It’s not such an easy task, but worth the effort in updating your spaces.  You will need to check for asbestos before you tackle the project, as it’s linked to cancer and you don’t want that!  Check out this website: How to Remove a Popcorn Ceiling.

Final Tips:

Use flat paint on your ceiling- it hides imperfections!

Unless it’s technical, (like how much paint is needed; whether your baseboards need to be replaced;) don’t listen to your painter.


Technical Challenges of Painting a Ceiling

If you don’t have a painter, and are forced to paint the ceiling yourself, you might check this helpful article. You should ignore the last part (Points 1 & 2) “Go With Flat White Ceiling Paint”- yes, go with flat paint, but you don’t have to go with white! How to Paint Your Ceiling

The ridiculous photo above shows no painter's tape, and a guy dressed in nice clothing painting the ceiling.  Don't try this.  Use painter's tape, good ladder, and cover your furniture and floor before you begin. You will drip, because of this thing called gravity, so plan for it.

In conclusion

So…. go forth and select paint colors!  Or… call us and we can help.  We charge $400 for a basic color consultation, and $750 for an advanced consultation where we look at your selected colors on your walls & ceiling BEFORE you commit to painting them.

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