Does Dark Paint Make Your Ceiling Appear Lower?

Sometimes in Paint Color Consultations, I suggest a dark paint color for a ceiling in certain rooms.  Most people think that paint colors for ceilings should always be light, right?   Dark paint colors for ceilings used to be a hard sell, but luckily I’ve built up enough street cred that most believe me now when I say a dark painted ceiling won’t come down on your head.

 low-ceiling_0307sm

 

Because that’s what most people are concerned with – that a dark paint color will make the ceiling appear lower.  In a relatively small room, when the walls are painted light or neutral, a dark painted ceiling actually recedes.  Think of it like a night sky that goes on and on.  Here’s a recent before-and-after, if you still don’t believe me: 

DSC_3779

“Before” with Light Ceiling and Dark Walls

 

The walls were a bright, coral-pink and the ceiling was faux-painted with a light blue color.  If you look closely, the trim was faux-painted as well.  Anyway, watch what happens to the room when the new paint colors are in place:

dark painted ceiling

Paint Colors by The Decorologist

 

Do you think the ceiling looks lower with the dark paint color up above?  No, it actually appears to recede as it brings your eye up.  Here’s another shot around the window – first, the “before”:

DSC_3778

Before

 

In the “after” below, the ceiling looks a bit lighter over near the window, but it’s actually a pretty dark paint color.  Notice that the draperies, rug, and wood furnishings did not change.  I chose paint colors for the walls and ceiling that would work with what my client already have and actually bringing it up to date without having to replace everything.

dark blue ceiling

Dark Ceiling After

 

So don’t be afraid of the dark!  Have you ever painted your ceiling dark?

 

If you want to learn more about choosing just the right paint colors for your home, you can buy my Color Workshop video right here.

 

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Jamie P Brantley
Guest

Wow! I love it!

Christine
Guest

I am a big fan of darker ceiling (and non-white ceilings in general, even if it is lighter than the wall color). Great post!

Whitney
Guest
Whitney

I always paint my ceilings a color..Love it….

Suzy
Guest

I love it, too. Great job. On another note, I’m also happy to see the end of another Red Dining Room. I’ve been house-hunting in the New York area for several months, and it seems like, inevitably, the dining room is red. Probably 80 percent of the time. “Show me The Red Dining Room”, is what I ask the agents. And they always do. :0)

Calli
Guest

I can totally see the difference, Kristie!
Think I’ll give this a go in my small white office.

Mel
Guest
Mel

This room now looks amazing! Two questions: is the ceiling textured (stippled or popcorn)—If not, do you have reservations about painting textured ceilings? And did you change the size of the trim at ceiling level. Again, what an awesome do over. Love your work.

Mel
Guest
Mel

Oh! One more question! I know you don’t give out paint colors as a rule, but is the paint on the walls in the green range or cream? Hard to tell on my monitor. Thanks!

Vicky Riddle
Guest
Vicky Riddle

I love the Greyhound color you suggested for my dining room ceiling! I would have never thought of that, but it looks great! Thanks again Kristie!

Sarah
Guest
Sarah

Wow, paint needs its own rap song. It can change everything!

Cathy
Guest
Cathy

What a difference! Love it!!

Jil McDonald
Guest

Love it! I’ve always wondered why, when ” they” said that dark colors move towards you. I’ve learned in kindergarten that if you want something to recede, you paint it darker. But we get swayed by false information, then our ‘beliefs’ change and before we know it, we’re running with the pack saying ‘darker paint closes in the room’.
Good for you, for setting the record straight!

Terry Murphy
Guest
Terry Murphy

I love the look of a dark ceiling, and the paint colors that Kristie chose for this room. On a separate topic related to the “after” photos — I also love the chair rail placement in these photographs. Here is a link to a very interesting article on chair rail proportions from a master carpenter: http://www.thisiscarpentry.com/2010/12/03/misused-confused-chair-rail/. One other comment — I once read an article online by a designer who counselled AGAINST painting the area below the chair rail a contrasting color. However, it looks very nice in the picture, and I wonder what Kristie’s thoughts are on that philosophy?

Karhy
Guest
Karhy

I like colored ceilings also. When done right I like wallpapered ceilings too, in a bedroom. I tend to say go for it and not lock into trends. I’m wondering the same thing as Mel. My friend painted her ceiling a couple shades darker than the walls and for some reason I really didn’t like it al all. It felt very closed in. I was wondering of it was due to having a textured ceiling?

iclectblue
Guest
iclectblue

Well done! I like how you updated it with just paint. What a transformation!

Connie Nikiforoff Designs
Guest

I might consider this if the room was pretty good sized. For small rooms (like we had in our former home) I always painted the ceilings the same color as the walls….I used light colors overall. That way there was no visible distinction of the line between the ceiling and walls. We didn’t have any crown moulding though. I think the ceiling color has a lot to do with lighting in the room, both natural and artificial, as well as the usage of the room. The new colors in this client’s room are wonderful! So much lighter, brighter and to… Read more »

Sara Backstrom
Guest
Sara Backstrom

I love the way you transformed this room with paint! It is very inspirational. I would like to know your opinion on what kind of paint finish to use for ceilings. Does it work to use an eggshell finish on both the walls and the ceiling in a room? Or is it usually best to go with a flat finish on the ceiling?
Thanks!

Kelly
Guest

I love a sheen on my ceilings also Kristie! Great example you gave with pictures. Pictures tell a thousand words!

Michelle Walker
Guest
Michelle Walker

Kristie recommended I paint my dining room ceiling BM’s Charlotte Slate AC-24 and I LOVE it. My walls are a creamy yellow faux from the previous owner so I’m not sure of the exact colors.

I also “wrapped” several of my rooms in one color and I have an eggshell finish on the walls & ceiling. No need to buy separate paint.

Tami
Guest
Tami

Kristie! This room is amazing!! I can’t even believe how great her existing furniture items look from JUST paint! This is really amazing!
I still need to have my bookcases painted 🙂

Shaina
Guest
Shaina

Love the dark ceiling! Kristie I love all your work. I was wondering … I have the opposite problem. I have a very large open space . its a very large connecting living room and dining room with 12 foot ceilings. I want to make the space cozier and smaller. Would I paint my walls darker and keep the ceiling light?

Chez
Guest
Chez

Love the room you did, and I could totally see how it opened up the room in the pics! Wow – that ceiling really looks taller! I was just at a paint store the other day, and the paint colorist there told me that painting a ceiling anything but white will absolutely make the ceiling feel lower. I couldn’t convince her otherwise. I remain a bit nervous about my plans to paint our LR ceiling BM Blue Bonnet. I trust you though – so fingers crossed! 🙂

Joan
Guest
Joan

Above, Mel asked your thoughts about painting a textured ceiling. Can you give us your opinion on that?

Donna Frasca
Guest

I love color on the ceiling no matter what height. Why not right? 🙂

Bethany
Guest
Bethany

Beautiful ceiling but have a question: light colored ceilings reflect light, dark colored ceilings do not. Won’t dark ceilings make a room dark?

Peggy
Guest
Peggy

Does the dark ceiling phenomenon still work with a textured ceiling? Not popcorn, but a random stucco like pattern. Use flat rather than eggshell? This is for a 13 x 15 foot boys bedroom with a 4 inch molding.

Michelle at Faith, Trust, & Pixie Dust
Guest

This room looks so much better & I love how fearless you are about painting ceilings. Great job!

Warmly, Michelle

Sid
Guest
Sid

This works totally – but it’s not a dark colour. It’s a neutral shade. And it’s inoffensive – that’s why it works along with the moulding being white opens it up. A dark shade with a definite assigned colour wouldn’t work – very generally speaking.

Aimee Molina
Guest
Aimee Molina

What is the color you used on this ceiling? I am looking at doing this in my bedroom, which is vaulted. I know the colors look lighter on the ceiling and I don’t want to go too light and lose the effect!

BillG
Guest
BillG

This looks awesome! We just picked paint colors for our brand new home. We chose a creamy brown for the walls and a kind of vanilla-esque color for the ceilings… but they accidentally painted the ceilings white instead! We don’t have crown molding and I’m afraid the white ceiling will look terrible with the brown walls. The ceilings in the living areas are vaulted, but in the kitchen/dining and bedrooms they’re flat and only 8′ high. I’d be curious to know what you’d suggest in our scenario!

Christine
Guest

One question about darker ceilings (something that I adore quite a bit). I have a small master bedroom (13.5′ x 13′) and have a golden color on the walls (Valspar’s Woodlawn Lewis Gold). I really like the idea of painting the ceiling a deep, aubergine (I’m currently crushing on Benjamin Moore’s Caponata), but can’t decide where to start and stop the color transition. My room does not have crown molding (1960’s brick rancher) and I have no plans to add crown molding. My initial thought is to NOT paint the ceiling along the wall/ceiling line, as one traditionally would. Rather,… Read more »

Sarah
Guest
Sarah

Would you recommend painting a ceiling darker when there is no trim separating the wall and ceiling and also if the ceiling has dramatic slops that follows the roof line? I hope that make sense.
Thanks!

Holly
Guest
Holly

I love dark ceilings. We have an open concept first floor and have a custom shade of brown on our ceiling with light beige ish walls, dark oak molding and dark hardwood floors. I thought my husband was crazy when he told me his idea, but it has created the illusion that the walls are receding as you look across the house. Definitely makes the house look longer than it really is. I am so happy I listened to him.

arts and crafts for girls age 12
Guest

Wonderful blog! Do you have any hints for aspiring writers?
I’m planning to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
Would you suggest starting with a free platform
like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so
many options out there that I’m totally confused .. Any suggestions? Appreciate it!

Coley
Guest
Coley

I absolutely love what you did here! So many designers change out the entire room that costs a pretty penny and I just love that all you changed was the paint. I’m not able to do this in most of my upstairs as I have the dreaded popcorn ceilings 🙁 When our bathroom gets redone though, I’m going to attempt wrapping it in the same color. Still deciding on whether to change it from eggshell to flat on the ceiling though as I have to think about the humidity issue…

Carol Daniell
Guest
Carol Daniell

Going over all your old posts, and this one is a good one for me. We’re starting from scratch now, so I’m going to be utilizing you a lot! Not just for ammunition against hanging TVs in the middle of the living room just so my husband can see it from the toilet from the hall bath (remember that one?) Well, our house burned down, and I’ve been so upset, he’s pretty much letting me do what I want. So since we have eight foot ceilings, if we paint them darker, they’ll look higher, right? And the TV is going… Read more »

Louisa
Guest
Louisa

A lot of people have asked about textured ceilings, but nobody has asked about textured 12-in ceiling tiles, which unfortunately came with our house. Would you consider painting those a darker color?

Louisa
Guest
Louisa

What about painting them at all?

Laura Tallant
Guest
Laura Tallant

Hi Kristie,

My husband and I both love these paint colors and we are going to paint our dining room with the same scheme. I have a question for you though. We have a large mirror with a gold and black frame that we will be re-hanging. We also have 2 additional pictures with black frames with gold highlights. The furniture is a medium to dark cherry. We are trying to decide what type of chandelier and finish we should purchase. What would you suggest? Thanks for your help!

Robert Audlee
Guest

We’re building a ‘dramatic’ conference room, with purple chairs, and two big whiteboards ‘backlit’ and a conference table ‘underlit’ with purple LED’s. Would we be COMPLETELY crazy to go with a black ceiling and medium/dark grey walls?

Robert Audlee
Guest

I bought some cheap disposable black plastic tablecloths, and stapled them to the ceiling to get a feel for what it would look like (Haven’t finished mounting the LED rope lights behind the whiteboard yet- I just threw them behind it to see how they’d look)

Robert Audlee
Guest

Thank you Kristie! We did it, and everyone is GIDDY about the results!

Robert Audlee
Guest

here’s one with room lights on. Ceiling is Valspar “Very Black”, light grey walls are Ben Moore “Nickel”, dark grey wall is Ben Moore “Crucible”, trim on door and windows is Ben Moore “Hematite”

Robert Audlee
Guest

this one shows the darker wall (for our large monitor) in “Crucible”, and the door and window trim. This shot was taken before the whiteboards were mounted.

Michael
Guest
Michael

Kristie, I’m a new homeowner and there are several projects I need to do to this place and my funds are dwindling. I wanted to have all the ceilings scraped and redone but because they are all vaulted its going to cost me thousands I don’t have so I may have to keep the popcorn. :-/ Have you ever painted a popcorn ceiling darker to conceal it more? i haven’t found many pictures online and wonder if that would be disastrous. The one pic I found didn’t look too bad….

lisa
Guest

Kristie, I am a fan of darker colors on walls but would like to try reversing what I have done on my previous renovations and paint the walls light and the ceilings dark. My husband and I are renovating a 1698 chapel and hermitage in Europe into a home. The nave will become a living and dining rooms. The barrel ceilings reach just over 16′ and has a ledge on the wall at about 10′. The width of the room is 13.5″. The floor tiles will be neutral shades of cream and tan. I thought about faux painting the ceilings… Read more »

lisa
Guest

I posted a photo of the same room from the other direction. I forgot to mention that the room is 32′ long. Would light walls and darker ceilings make the room look even more narrow? I am anxious to hear your comments.

lisa
Guest

Thank you.

Cecily Porter
Guest
Cecily Porter

Can you paint a dark ceiling and have it look great if you have no coving?