A ColorTherapy Survey: Color and Ceilings

A ColorTherapy Survey: Color and Ceilings

Maxwell Ryan
Sep 25, 2007

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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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