Thinking Beyond White for Ceilings

by Nicole Balch on May 30th, 2012


When you think of painting a room, you think about choosing a color for the walls. Maybe you even think about choosing more than one. But do you think about the ceiling, or just default to white? White ceilings can be a great choice a lot of the time, but if you’re just sticking with white because you’re not sure what else to choose (or maybe you’ve never even thought about it), you could be missing out!


You can paint the ceiling the same color as the walls. This is an easy choice to make if the walls are fairly light, but does it work in darker rooms too? Yes! The effect will be a bit moodier and cozier with dark colors, but you can make that work to your advantage. My bedroom has dark, charcoal gray paint on the ceiling and walls (try Seal Grey for a similar look), yet it still feels bright and welcoming because of the large windows and white trim throughout.


You can choose to go darker with the ceiling than the rest of the room too. This is a trick that Frank Lloyd Wright used often. A darker or lower ceiling that borders on lighter rooms gives a greater sense of passage from space to space. I did this in my dining room (again, try Seal Grey for a similar look).



Bringing in a completely different color can be fun too. Think a pale blue like Misty Aqua to recall the sky, or a sweet shade like Powder Pink to give a lovely rosy hue to a room and flatter complexions. I chose a soft olive green (like Hazy Sage) in my library to pair with chocolate brown walls (Bittersweet Chocolate) because the transition from white to brown would have been too harsh.



I’m sure you can imagine that each of the rooms above would look dramatically different (and not as interesting!) had I stuck to a default white ceiling. It’s a little more work to add a color up above, but it’s worth it. So next time you paint a room, remember to address “the fifth wall”—the ceiling!

Categories: Color, Examples


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