September 20, 2010

The Ceiling: White vs. Color

There's a trend going around recently that says you should avoid assuming your ceilings should be painted white, and instead consider painting the ceiling a complimentary or even contrasting color to your walls. After all, the ceiling is the "5th wall" of the room so-to-speak. But how do you know if you should really follow this trend? Is it one that will become out-of-date eventually? Are there certain circumstances where you should definitely stick to a white ceiling?

These are all questions I'm pondering as I'm picking out paint colors for each of the rooms in the house. So far, I've stuck to white ceilings in the rooms we've painted, and I'm pretty satisfied with that as it keeps a bit more traditional look for our 82 year old house. But there are a couple rooms coming up, namely the dining room and bathroom(s), that I'm considering breaking the white-ceiling look for something a little more fun and well, trendy.

I figure if I paint only 1 or 2 ceilings in the house a different color then white, it won't be that much work to re-paint them down the road if I want to back to the all white look.

So, how do you decide which rooms are good choices for ceiling color? And which rooms aren't? Here are a few generally known rules to go by.

Generally, a white ceiling gives the feeling of height and space in a room. So, if you have a small room, it might be a good idea to keep the ceiling white. It gives the illusion of making the ceiling appear taller, and therefore of making the small space appear larger. This holds most true when you also keep the wall color light and bright.

But at the same time, having a darker color on a wall and white ceiling can actually make the space feel smaller. The idea follows a basic principle: a line between two colors draws attention to the end of the top of the wall, making the viewer more aware of the ceiling. This is what I'm most afraid of in the dining room as I'm planning to paint the walls a fairly dark color.

So, the idea of using one color for walls and ceiling is a way of disguising the ceiling so it blends in more, making the room appear more spacious.

But then, there's something fun about a ceiling painted either a different shade then the walls, or a completely different color then the walls. Take this picture for example...

Something else to consider is the use of crown molding in the space. Our dining room has beautiful plaster crown molding in it which does a great job of separating and defining the walls and ceiling - and I think that helps when you want different colors on the wall and ceiling. It's hard to pull that off without crown molding.

So, next comes the decision making. We're painting the walls first to see what that looks like with the current white ceiling. Then we'll consider painting the ceiling a color after that.

What do you think? Are you all for embracing the fun trendiness of a great color above your head? Or do you think color is meant for walls and ceilings should stick to the traditional, white look? Please share!

Pin It


  1. How do you make a second story cape cod walls that are 7 1/2 ft tall appear taller. The wall will be a dark color and is a large room 19X15

  2. I have a light blue ceiling and blue been walls so that it looks like the sky and ocean. The bathroom is 5X8. It works! Beautiful and fun. Great flow.
    My den is pumkin walls and a golden ceiling. Beautiful and fun. That room is my office/ den/guest room.


Visit InfoServe for Blogger backgrounds.