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?

Overwhelmed with color trends? Want to know how to choose the BEST neutrals, colors, and color combinations? Wish there was a no-fail system that creates cohesive and beautiful color schemes for any home with any finishes?

Now there is! I’ve been doing this for years, and now I’ll teach you how (including all the specific colors in BOTH Benjamin Moore and Sherwin-Williams paints). You can find out more HERE.

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Jamie P Brantley
7 years ago

Wow! I love it!

Christine
7 years ago

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
Whitney
7 years ago

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

Suzy
Suzy
7 years ago

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)

Dana Tucker
7 years ago

Kristie, that would make a great blog post. “Say No to the Red Dining Room”. LOL!! Love this post. I’m sharing!

Calli
7 years ago

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

Mel
Mel
7 years ago

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
Mel
7 years ago

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
Vicky Riddle
7 years ago

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
Sarah
7 years ago

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

Cathy
Cathy
7 years ago

What a difference! Love it!!

Jil McDonald
7 years ago

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
Terry Murphy
7 years ago

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
Karhy
7 years ago

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
iclectblue
7 years ago

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

Connie Nikiforoff Designs

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 »

Kim
Kim
7 years ago

So how would this work? I recently painted my small 15’x15′), low-ceiling (7’9″) room BM Palladium Blue. Would I paint the same color and finish (satin) on the ceiling? I ABSOLUTELY LOVE the dark gray ceiling and would even be willing to repaint the walls and install crown moulding to achieve the look, but I’m not sure which would work better – a dark contrasting ceiling or the monotone look.

Kim
Kim
7 years ago

Kristie, it worked! We carried the Palladian Blue onto the ceiling (switching to flat, of course) and it looks like a million bucks! As predicted, the low ceiling almost disappears and the color looks much, much lighter up there. Thank you so much!!

Coley
Coley
6 years ago

Kim, do you have a photo you could email me of how your room turned out? That is the exact color I will be painting my bathroom and was thinking of doing the same thing to expand the space!

Sara Backstrom
Sara Backstrom
7 years ago

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
7 years ago

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

Michelle Walker
Michelle Walker
7 years ago

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
Tami
7 years ago

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
Shaina
7 years ago

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
Chez
7 years ago

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! 🙂

Chez
Chez
7 years ago

Cascade White on the walls, turq rug. Do you think Blue Bonnet will look ok? Thunderbird looked too dark.

Joan
Joan
7 years ago

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

Donna Frasca
7 years ago

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

Bethany
Bethany
7 years ago

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

Bethany
Bethany
7 years ago

Light walls, that’s a good idea!
I’ve been studying lighting via books, and lighting experts advise keeping ceilings very light to reflect light but I’m sure their sole goal is bouncing light. Seems whatever area is a professional’s specialty is the area that trumps all else. Thank you for your info.

Peggy
Peggy
7 years ago

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

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

Warmly, Michelle

Sid
Sid
6 years ago

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
Aimee Molina
6 years ago

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
BillG
6 years ago

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!

BillG
BillG
6 years ago

We ended up keeping the white ceilings. I really don’t like them, but it could be worse!

Christine
6 years ago

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 »

Christine
6 years ago

Thank you for responding. I have neither a tray ceiling, nor a high ceiling. Standard 8 feet of boring box. I guess crown molding just got bumped up on the ‘to do’ list. Thank you for your input and professional opinion.

Sarah
Sarah
6 years ago

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
Holly
6 years ago

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

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
Coley
6 years ago

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
Carol Daniell
6 years ago

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
Louisa
6 years ago

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
Louisa
6 years ago

What about painting them at all?

Laura Tallant
Laura Tallant
6 years ago

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
5 years ago

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
5 years ago

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
5 years ago

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

Robert Audlee
5 years ago

Here’s one with the room lights on- the walls are Ben Moore “Nickel”, the ceiling Valspar “Very Black”. One (accent wall for a large video monitor) is the darker Ben Moore “Crucible”

Robert Audlee
5 years ago
Reply to  Robert Audlee

sorry Kristie, looks like I double-posted this shot. feel free to delete!

Robert Audlee
5 years ago

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
5 years ago

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
Michael
4 years ago

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
3 years ago

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
3 years ago

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
3 years ago

Thank you.

Cecily Porter
Cecily Porter
1 year ago

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

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