The Best Ceiling Paint Color for Every Type of Room

published Sep 4, 2014
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image

If you’re in search of another way to spice up your home, consider painting your ceilings your next big project. I’m not talking the typical white paint here either, but rather colors that are bright, energetic, or even moody. Keep in mind, though, that the type of paint you choose—as well as the shade you select—can have a big impact on the end result.

That’s why it’s worth getting a designer’s input and a few pro painting tips, which I’ve done here. Here’s what you should know about painting a ceiling before you even consider picking up a paintbrush. 

Does a Ceiling Have to be White?

There’s no rule that says you have to paint a ceiling white, but it’s certainly an option, and there are tons of shades of white that each has their own nuances and undertones. But if you’re looking to make a dramatic change, it might be best to look beyond white for your ceiling color. 

What Colors Will Make a Room Look Bigger and Higher?

To create the illusion of more space and taller ceilings, quiet, light hues are a great place to start your shade selection. “Lightly tinted colors or whites paired with a white ceiling are usually the first choice because this combination reflects more light into a space and gives the illusion of receding walls, but there are some more creative options, too,” says designer Rachel Anderson of Harper Rae Design Co.

“Using a vibrant yellow on a ceiling can offer a bright, cheery feel and visually lift a space while painting the panels of a coffered ceiling in a soft blue can add a soft contrast that feels like an expansive sky overhead.” 

Light colors aren’t the only option. Darker shades and monochromatic rooms can also be a stylish, strategic choice. “I also love the monochromatic look of pairing two shades of the same color in a large space, such as a soft pastel green on the ceiling and one or two shades darker on all the walls and trim below,” Anderson says.

“Painting the walls and trim one color blends the space from floor to ceiling, making the walls appear taller, and a lighter version of the same hue on the ceiling adds contrast to lift the space further.”

But what if you’d like to make your space look cozier? An area such as a sunroom or living room that feels too empty and contains perhaps too much white space can benefit from a painted ceiling. “I have been loving dark ceilings lately to cozy up a space without making the room feel small,” says designer Anastasia Casey, creative director of IDCO Studio. “Benjamin Moore’s Peppercorn is the dreamiest charcoal gray. It feels modern and masculine while still having the perfect traditional element to it.” 

Is It Okay to Paint the Ceiling the Same Color as the Walls?

Totally! Both Anderson and Casey agree, as mentioned above, that a monochromatic palette can look fantastic and be a very stylish choice for a space. Anderson mentioned that she recently painted an entire tiny bath in a deep black shade, but because of its contrasting white trim, this color choice actually made the space feel bigger.

“In many of my projects I employ an all-white aesthetic though,” says Anderson. “It creates the feeling of a bigger, brighter space. In a region inundated with grey foggy days like we have in the Pacific Northwest, the added brightness helps to lift the spirits and always feels fresh.” 

What Paint Finish Is Best for Ceilings?  

Nine times out of 10, matte and flat paint formulas tend to be ideal options when selecting a finish for your ceiling. “Glossier finishes bounce more light around a space, casting shadows that can be unflattering on highly textured or imperfect surfaces like the standard ceiling,” says Anderson. “Your best bet is a product specifically designed for ceilings, which comes in the flattest sheen possible and tends to have a higher viscosity and opacity for quick and even coverage.”

That said, there are always exceptions to this rule. “A high gloss paint in a deep, rich color adds drama when paired with white walls and can bring a luxe feel to a space or highlight architectural features like vaulted ceilings,” says Anderson. “The only caveat is that high glosses work best on ceilings that are skim coated or smooth in texture.”

Ready to grab a roller? Before you start painting, here are a handful of inspirational rooms that prove just how stylish a painted ceiling can be.

1. Orange Ceiling

Cozy rooms are like the warm sweaters of the interior world. A deep orange ceiling, as seen in this room above from Holly Christian of Plucked Interiors, instantly makes a space feel warmer and more inviting. Curl up with a book and a cup of tea here, and you’ll never want to leave.

2. Mint Green Ceiling

If you dream of having a dramatic dark room, it can be balanced by a light ceiling and trim color. The mint-colored ceiling in this room by Hannah Atkins, founder of Indie Trading Collective, is an airy, light contrast to the deep forest green walls. This slight tweak in hue is much more interesting than white would have been.

3. Neutral-Colored Ceiling

Minimalists and neutral color enthusiasts can still take advantage of a painted ceiling, and a perfect example of this comes from the bloggers behind The Otto House. Bordering on the edge of dusty pink and pale peach, this ceiling shade punctuates the room in a quiet, nonchalant manner.

4. Pink and White Painted Ceiling

Maximalism is slowly but surely finding its way back to interiors, and this room by Angela Chrusciaki Blehm is enough to convince even the most steadfast Scandi fans to try something a little more daring. Rather than using just one color, pink stripes were added, which surprisingly don’t compete with the rainbow of other shades used in the rest of the room.

Credit: Levi Sinders

5. Black Painted Ceiling

People often shy away from using black in interiors because it can sometimes make a room appear dark. But as shown here in this room from Instagrammer Levi, a black ceiling can be quite the sophisticated touch. The space itself is nicely decorated, but the deep dark hue gives it an ultra-modern twist.

Credit: Ellie Rimmer

6. Pink and Green Ceiling

Like your walls, your ceiling doesn’t have to be all one color. This fabulous artistic statement ceiling by Ellie Rimmer shows how even a touch of color can really light up a room and make it feel special. If you’re not ready to commit to a full-blown colored ceiling, this is a safe, fun way to test this trend out.