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  • Writer's pictureHeather Holcombe

Paint a ceiling for creative (or bold) impact!

Photo courtesy of Sara Story Design via

There is one design feature you can add to your home for a relatively low cost, and it's a colorfully painted ceiling. That means anything, but white. Consider it a fifth wall and an opportunity to add some creative interest and bold design to a room. The effect can be amazing!

So where and how can you add a painted ceiling in your house?


Dining rooms, powder rooms, small bedrooms or studies are ideal. I wouldn't recommend painting the ceiling of a large room. It could overwhelm rather than enhance the space. A tray ceiling or a reverse tray (drop down ceiling) is an ideal spot in a room to add color - but you don't need one to paint a color onto your ceiling.

How Bold?

For a low impact effect, you can mix white paint with a few (or a lot of) drops of the room's wall color. This adds some subtle color. But why be subtle, when you can go bold?

For a more striking look, use a full-strength color. I say go for it!  

Photo courtesy of Red Cover / Photoshot, featured work by Jeffrey Bilhuber

Here are several reasons to consider a bolder color (or any color, really):

  • If you have high ceilings, it grounds and balances the space.

  • Color transforms the ceiling from a white void above your head to an exciting part of the room's design.

  • Bold color can add a lot of drama (think metallic paint).  

  • A painted ceiling is like "highlight or feature wall" - except that it's above you instead of in front of you. Maximize its potential.

  • A painted ceiling can highlight ceiling moldings or medallions.

  • Color on a ceiling helps to draw the eye up.

  • A painted ceiling can add high drama.

Dark Ceilings:

Thinking of a dark ceiling as a night sky. It's dramatic and can be beautiful. The dark color draws the eye up. In a smaller bedroom with high ceilings, it adds a sense of balance.

Photo by Heather Clawson for Habitually Chic, featured work by Thom Felicia

Color Blocking:

Think of using the same color but in different hues. For example, you could paint a navy blue ceiling (Benjamin Moore's Hale Navy is very popular) but walls that are diluted by 50% with white for a lighter hue on the walls. If you prefer, you can do the opposite. Navy walls and a lighter ceiling.


Try painting everything the same color: the walls, baseboards, moldings and the ceiling (even doors). The impact can be beautiful - and unexpected. Rather than enclosing the room, it can create a sense of space because there are no color boundaries to break up the room. 

Photo courtesy of Traditional Home

Coordinate the ceiling's color to fabrics and soft furnishings in the room. This pulls everything together for a professionally finished look. For example, pull the color from a headboard or armchair room and use it on the ceiling. 

Add some interesting moldings to the ceiling, and the result can be spectacular as well as fun!


You can achieve the same effect by wallpapering a ceiling rather than painting. Just be sure of the wallpaper you select because it's not as easy to remove as it is to repaint

Photo Courtesy of Laura U Design


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