This Is the Best—and Cheapest!—Room in Your Home to Paint a Ceiling

updated Jul 17, 2020
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Credit: 5m3photos/Getty Images

I like to classify my interior style as “maximalist pretending to be a minimalist.” Basically, risky design choices, such as bright colors, terrify me. As I scroll through my saved photos on Instagram though, it’s clear that I love it when other people decorate with color. So as a woman of action, I’m trying to face my fears, even when it comes to decorating. Rather than diving in head first though, I decided to dip a toe into the world of color by painting the smallest surface in my apartment that I could find: my bathroom ceiling.

Painted ceilings are so dreamy. Even the simplest paint job can make a space look special and unique. I filled a new Instagram folder with images of ceiling swirls and stripes, murals, and safer, more muted tones. Now remember, I’m a bit of a chicken when it comes to incorporating color. So for my fifth wall paint job, I went with an earthy, beige-y pink color that I had left over from a different project (yes, it was a painted arch, and yes, you should probably paint one of those, too). Flat paint is often recommended for ceilings and older walls to conceal imperfections. Since bathrooms are high-humidity spaces though, I figured an eggshell or semi-gloss would be easier to wipe down.

Credit: Dominique Gebru

When painting any surface, you need to be mindful of paint drips, and that goes triple when painting a ceiling. It’s a good idea to cover the surface below your ceiling with a drop cloth (though I’ll admit I didn’t use one because it’s fairly easy to get wet paint off of ceramic tile). I prepped the ceiling by wiping it down with a microfiber cloth and some disinfectant spray to ensure I had a nice, clean surface. 

I used a paint brush because I was too lazy to bust out my roller, but a roller brush certainly would have made the job faster. Two coats of paint and about two hours later, my white-walled bathroom, which you can see above, now feels less like a hospital and more like a chic design moment. The ceiling is now easily my favorite feature in the bathroom, and its color echoes both the wooden, slab style open shelves I hung above the toilet, as well as some shades in my succulent patterned shower curtain. The bath mat ties the whole look together, and I’ve found that the slight sheen on the ceiling actually amplifies the natural light coming in through the bathroom’s small window.

The beauty of painting your bathroom’s fifth wall is that, if you hate it, it’s a relatively small space to paint back over. It’s also the easiest way to get rid of that sterile, stark white rental bathroom look. The next time I paint a ceiling, I might try something bolder like matte black. Watch out, Michelangelo!