A ColorTherapy Survey: Color and Ceilings

What color should I paint my ceiling? Clients often ask this, and I invariably say white - plain Benjamin Moore white. When someone wants a ceiling painted Cameo or one of those Ace Bandage colors, I used to feel like throwing up. But now that my home away from home is Soho, I’ve noticed several instances that would counter my natural instincts...

I like all ceilings in a home or apartment to be as neutral as possible, and white provides continuity between all rooms. If your walls are dark that color will reflect upwards; if they’re light you don’t want a tint that will compete with subtle shades.

But we know that in Colonial times ceilings were painted pale pastels to mimic the sky; ditto for ceilings over outdoor porches, which were painted slate blue. As I ate and drank my way through lower Manhattan last summer, I discovered several examples of ceilings painted in color that would challenge my opinions.

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Tin ceilings are often painted in mottled champagne beige and amber. I’m not sure if this color is intentional, or if it’s 75 years of smoke and hamburger grease.

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One of my clients has her tin ceilings painted sea foam green.

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My new favorite pizza place is De Marco’s on West Houston. Black ceilings, and the lamps are actually pizza pans.

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Restaurant Provence on MacDougal St. has soft blues against ocher to suggest sky; and I love their blackfish tapenade.

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A painted ceiling from my visit to Jim Thorpe. More on this next week.

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And since it’s adornment month at AT why not go all the way? A vault from the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence.

So what do you think? Ceilings: color, or no?

- Mark Chamberlain, interior and decorative painter

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Maxwell left teaching in 2001 to start Apartment Therapy as a design business helping people to make their homes more beautiful, organized AND healthy. The website started up in 2004 with the help of his brother, Oliver.

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