Taming the Trey (Ceiling, That Is)

It’s an age old-question:  how do you properly paint out a trey/tray ceiling?

DSC 4792 Taming the Trey (Ceiling, That Is)

 

 

It’s actually spelled t-r-e-y, but I find that most people spell it t-r-a-y.  Anywho,  this is how some people think you should paint it:

2011 11 02 14 36 58 515 Taming the Trey (Ceiling, That Is)

One Word:  YIKES!

 

That kind of color chaos draws TOO much attention to the ceiling, and NOT in a good way. Looks like it’s time for The Decorologist to tame that trey!  Hopefully, you’ll see the virtue of a different tactic:

DSC 4783 Taming the Trey (Ceiling, That Is)

Another Trey Tamed!

 

Note the four colors in the initial scheme:  dark green, dark pink, light pink, and white.  It’s important to be judicious when deciding what architecture to accent, how to accent it, and with what colors.  Here’s another look at the “before”:

2011 11 02 14 37 01 765 Taming the Trey (Ceiling, That Is)

Trey Ceiling Colors “Before”

 

Below is the way I chose to paint out this trey my client’s Nashville home.   It’s a bit hard to tell from the photograph, but the wall is a gray with a few drops of green, while the ceiling is a darker color that is more of a grayed green-blue.  The darker color sits on the flat part of the upper ceiling ONLY – the ceiling color reads darker when the chandelier is off, but I didn’t snap a picture of that.

DSC 4788 Taming the Trey (Ceiling, That Is) New Color Scheme for Dining Room

 

The room has undergone quite a transformation, but notice that new paint color is one of the only changes!  We painted the oak stair bannister black to update it as well, but the neither the light fixture, furnishings, or accessories are new. The other change made was the addition of hardwood floors, which is always an upgrade!

DSC 4775 Taming the Trey (Ceiling, That Is)Color Changes Everything

 

If you need help choosing the RIGHT colors for your home and making decisions about WHERE those colors should be applied, hire a Professional Color Consultant like The Decorologist before you get out your paintbrush!

pixel Taming the Trey (Ceiling, That Is)

Comments

  1. Hi Christie!

    Yikes is right. Great “taming'”. I had an interesting quandary recently with a trey ceiling that had recessed lighting behind the molding. SUCH a difference in daytime with natural light and night with lights on. Lights totally washed the color out. Had to go bolder which wasn’t an ideal look during day. Clients spent time in the room mostly at night, so we optimized that look.

    Have you had that experience?

    • This dining room is definitely an example of how I had intended for the ceiling to read a bit darker – which is does when the light is off. My client loves it, so it’s all good – but if I could make it a shade darker, I would! I have to continually remind my clients that the dark color I pick out for a ceiling will be really be more subtle than it seems it would – I’ve never regretted going darker.

      • Sunny Penner Cox says:

        Are you working with premixed colors in a color family, or mixing your own? The wall color is wonderful, (is it custom?) and the blend as the eye moves up is just superb – especially, I think, as the light changes throughout the day. I’ve been tempted, in rooms with plenty of angles, just to paint it all one solid color first – just to see how different it looks in all kinds of light. The effect here is marvelous, as my little boys would say, “You biggered the room, just with painting!”

        • Sunny,
          “Biggered the room” – I love it!!! No doubt, the room feels larger. As for the colors: the wall color is Ben Moore’s Winterwood and the topmost ceiling color is Greyhound. I think we did Cloud White on the trim.

  2. Oh wow, the before was definitely a YIKES! I love the colors you chose, they are soothing and everything looks beautiful now! What a difference paint can make! The hardwood flooring also makes a major difference to that room, it’s warm and inviting now, another job well done!

  3. In one word, ‘beautiful’. And I love the black railing!

  4. Amy White says:

    Did you just paint the stair railing and newel post or did you use a gel stain? It looks great!

  5. Thank you for this lesson on trey ceilings and I learned a new spelling lesson too – had no idea! I always thought it was all about the blending. I have to go look those colors up now to see where they sit with each other.

  6. You did a very nice job! I have to be honest, I’ve never cared for trey ceilings. I look at that as a huge item that down the road everyone will be saying how dated they are. Remember the days of the dreadful sunburst people were having made on their ceilings? It has an office feel to me. But I’m not a fan of the huge jet tubs either. What some people consider “it” I just see an elephant in the room. I also love that you painted the railing black. You’re right that small change really improved the entire look.

  7. Paula Van Hoogen says:

    AHHH, what a soothing change Kristie. And the black on the railings! How did you ever convince the man of the house to let that be done!!! YAY! The “sacred” oak has been banished!
    Am I being a brat here or shouldn’t the wood floor have run parallel with the dining table??

  8. No kidding! I always cringe when I see a trey ceiling painted the way the one in the “before” photo was. I also agree with Kathy – never have liked a trey ceiling either.

  9. Hi Kristie, just popping in again to let you know that I’ve nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award, check out my April 18th post for info.

  10. Wow, what a difference paintint the stair railing black makes!! I will definintely borrow that idea from you! Awesome change and update. Also, love the dining room and trey ceiling. Paint is such an wonderful, inexpensive update. Great job, Kristie.

  11. Love the new look of this room. The before and after is unreal and the painted handrail just makes the room. Great job!

  12. Very pretty! The “before” was truly frightening. I like the way you used a slightly darker color on the upper ceiling only. That seems to work well when there is no crown molding at the top of the walls, as is the case here.

    Also, I heard recently that the correct spelling is “tray”, as it’s named after a “tray” you might have on your living room ottoman, only inverted.

    • Patsy,
      I always thought it was “tray” but there seems to be conflicting opinions – I researched it a bit, and it appeared to me that “trey” was used by those in the know.

  13. I love the look of the colored paint on the ceiling, but i’m curious if you have advice for me. My ceiling has a trey placed in the middle of the ceiling that doesn’t take up the entire space. I don’t know if i should paint the entire ceiling the darker color or bring the wall color up to the trey. What do you think?

    • I recommend painting the uppermost flat part of the trey in the darker color. Any lower part of the trey, either sides or underside, I would paint a flat version of the trim color. Wall color only on the upright walls and only below the trey. Hope that makes since and helps!

  14. I would like to put in a laminate wood floor in my dinning room and hallway. So many people have told me that theirs shows every little piece of dirt. Is there one you could recommend that will help solve that problem. I know the scraped wood look might be better.
    I was thinking about real wood and wanted one that would work with my chairs that are on rollers but am having trouble finding one hard enough for them.

    • The floors that will show the most dirt and dust are the very dark expresso finishes. If you stick with a medium to darker brown finish, you should be fine. Stay away from a yellow, orangey, or reddish undertone – choose as true brown of a finish as possible. Good luck!

  15. Joann Rogers says:

    Hello I am building a new house with large rooms and tall ceilings the dining room is 20×13 with 14foot tray ceil with could crown 7inch I was thinking about painting it light gray walls (Galveston )with Kendall charcoal in the flat center of the tray what do I paint the flat out side of the ceiling ? My trim is going to be decorators white. Thanks you your help!

  16. Kristie,
    May I repost this post to my blog: LoveNowSellLater.com? I have clients whose trey ceilings need taming. Thanks, Lesa

  17. Cynthia Gadol says:

    I just wanted to point out that this type of ceiling is actually called a “tray ceiling” because it resembles an inverted tray. There is also such a thing as a tray table, usually a tray on a stand, which so far people are not spelling “trey” table. I know that “gray” can be spelled “grey,” but that does not follow here. The word “trey” comes from the same root as the word “three,” and is actually a name for the three in a deck of cards; hence, many a John Farthingsworth Doe, III is nicknamed Trey (not Tray!). The words tray and trey are homophones, but are not interchangeable. I know that many real estate agents and decorators spell the word for the ceiling”trey,” but that is just one of those cases of an error proliferating through common use.

  18. Barbara says:

    Kristie: Your taming pictures of the awful colored trey ceilings do not show the exact same angle of the trey ceiling. Without the duplication of the original photo angle shot you can’t really claim to have tamed it. It is the horrible bright contrasting colors dark aroundthe light that really makes the trey ceilings look bad. Please in your before and after shots make sure to capture the exact same subject so that people can tell you actually have or have not tamed it.

    Where did you come up with the term Decorologist? How did you and why did you come up with it?

    • Barbara,
      I do the best I can with the before and after shots. It’s nearly impossible to get those from exactly from the same angle, especially when many months may transpire between the before and after and I photographed many dozens of houses in the interim. You have no idea how many thousands of photos I take. Many times the photos don’t begin to show to the improvement you can see in real life, standing in the room. If it makes you feel any better, that before/after was done several years ago and I since have gotten a much better camera!

      As to your other question, I was formerly a psychologist (for about a decade). When I decided to become an interior decorator, I thought that I was a completely different career path. Interestingly, I have found that I use lots of psychology and counseling even when working with clients to create their ideal home. “Home” is chocked-full of meaning and emotion, isn’t it? Anyway, several years ago I created that word and took it on as my monniker. It is now a registered trademark that only I can use. Thanks for the questions!

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  1. [...] about paint effects that will make your rooms look updated, read my article about treyed ceilings here, and creating a color palette that flows here and here. Filed Under: My Decorology, [...]

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