When it comes to home improvement, it may not occur to you to look up. Ceilings often get neglected because the options seem so limited. Changing the shape of your ceiling is major construction—expensive, if it’s even architecturally possible at all. Retexturing is doable, but messy, difficult, and sometimes dangerous. And then there’s color—ceilings need to be ceiling-white. Not a lot of options there.
With all this in mind, it’s no wonder most folks ignore their ceilings. Why bother? But the truth is, a freshly-painted ceiling can do wonders for a room. And, you may not even have to stick with white.
There are some obvious and not-so-obvious reasons why white ceilings never go out of style:
1. White isn’t distracting, and people generally want to keep a room’s wow-factor within a natural sight-line.
2. White goes with everything, and therefore, every style—a white ceiling fits in with a pastel-themed nursery as much as it does a leather and mahogany library.
3. White reflects light, so a white ceiling makes for a brighter room, no matter what light source or color scheme you’re working with.
That last point is super important: your ceiling does a lot of work when it comes to light. If a room is looking drab, check on the ceiling—a fresh coat of bright white could be just the fix. If you’re planning to go DIY, any good hardware store should be able to help you find the paint you need. Ceiling paints generally have better coverage than regular interior paint. They’re also usually flat finish, which is recommended since any gloss or sheen tends to highlight flaws and inconsistencies on ceilings.
Bright white is probably your best bet—but why? And what other options are out there?
No one wants flaws in their home décor, but a ceiling should be especially flawless. Unlike inconsistencies on walls or floors, ceiling glitches can’t be easily hidden with furniture or decoration. That’s why, when it comes to white, it’s sort of all-or-nothing. Off-whites can look unintentional, making your ceiling look dingy, like perhaps there’s smoke or water damage.
That being said, one exception in colored rooms is painting your ceiling a mixture of 20% wall color, 80% white. The result is still a light ceiling that does the work of a white ceiling, but with a hint of color that looks intentional.
If tone-on-tone isn’t your thing, but you’re still wondering how to make the most of your white ceiling in a room with colored walls, consider looking into cool or warm whites—but it’s recommended you don’t wander too far toward the beiges.
WHAT ABOUT COLOR?
Statement ceilings made the rounds in interior design blogs in 2018, and the trend had some folks scratching their heads. But some bold ceilings may have staying power—done right, they can look downright timeless.
People often assume a colored ceiling will feel claustrophobic, and that’s certainly a risk—dark ceilings can feel lower, so in small rooms, that may not be a wise choice. But depending on the size and lighting of a room, a colored ceiling can give a really professional-looking edge, and can sometimes even visually open up the space.
Some things to consider:
1. SHOW OFF CROWN MOULDING: If you have gorgeous crown moulding in your home, a colored ceiling can really make it pop. That crisp white border can keep the room from feeling closed in, so consider taking the color risk. Try a more saturated shade of your wall color for some drama that won’t feel too heavy.
2. MATCHING YOUR WALLS: If you’re a fan of soft and light tones, you may consider matching your walls and ceiling. This can definitely give the room a cozy cocoon vibe, so it’s good for bedrooms and bathrooms, but may not work for more energetic spaces.
3. PLAY UP COFFERING OR BEAMS: Give architectural ceilings an extra punch by adding color. Coffers and beams provide all kinds of fun options—try painting the 3D elements, or the negative space between them. Either way, embrace contrast to make the most of your ceiling—don’t shy away from rich tones.
4. THINK “ACCENT WALL”: When it comes to picking a color, begin your search by looking into accent wall ideas—after all, that’s basically what your ceiling is: a fifth wall! You’ll find tons of inspiration out there, from unexpected colors to patterned wallpaper. With the right décor aesthetic, nothing is really off-limits when it comes to ceilings—it’s just a matter of what you want your ceiling to do for the space.
There’s no shame in wanting to play it safe when it comes to your ceiling, and a fresh coat of bright white paint is guaranteed to never let you down. But a bold ceiling may be just the right amount of impact to complete your home’s look, so keep it in mind!