Paint The Ceiling or No?

Homeowners often ask me whether or not they should paint the ceiling white or something different. I happened upon a couple of kitchen photos yesterday that perfectly illustrate a point that I make in my Just the Right Paint Color educational video.

paint the ceiling here

via BHG

See how the yellow wall color is wrapped onto the ceiling in this photo? This is “right’ in The Decorologist’s book!  As a Color Consultant, I usually recommend that my clients wrap the wall color onto the ceiling if there is no crown moulding – especially in a kitchen where there is so little wall color above the cabinets anyway. Look at the difference when the color isn’t wrapped, but instead stops at the ceiling:

when to paint the ceiling

via BHG

I’m not saying this looks particularly bad or wrong, but it would look better if the color was wrapped onto the ceiling here, too. With such little wall space painted yellow, it just reads like a stripe of color.  In fact, that stripe draws your attention to the intersection of white and yellow, which makes the ceiling look lower.  Paint the ceiling the same as the wall color and it will make the room feel larger. In this case, it would make the ceiling appear higher and would be like inviting sunshine right into the kitchen!

For more advice about on-trend paint colors and color placement, check out my Just the Right Paint Color video!

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Rhonda
Rhonda
7 years ago

The yellow kitchen is lovely! I’m assuming, though, that a ceiling wouldn’t be painted a color if there were crown molding?

Cathy
Cathy
7 years ago

You have so many great ideas; on this one though, I think it lowers the ceiling and gives me the feeling of being in a box.

Susie
Susie
7 years ago

Hi Kristie! I love the look of painted celings but I have a question. The pictures that I see in magazines or on the internet show a plain celing. What about the a/c vents or high hats? Do you leave those white or paint them also. What if you have knock down?

Eileen
Eileen
7 years ago

That’s something I hadn’t thought of before and I agree that it looks so much better in the first picture. Looking at my own kitchen, which is in need of painting, would you still paint the ceiling if you’ve got a higher ceiling height? I don’t have just a strip of wall above the cabinets; it’s more like 3 feet. Also, what sheen would you use in a kitchen when you’d be painting the ceiling as well? I’ve heard that ceilings should be a matte finish, but wouldn’t you want more of a wash-down friendly finish for kitchen walls?

carolsmyth@thedesignpages
7 years ago

I totally agree. It’s hard to convince clients that painting a ceiling will actually visually open up the space but you’ve just shown it here. I did a post yesterday on painted ceilings and I can’t stop thinking about doing something groovy in a room or two at my place.

Arlene
Arlene
7 years ago

I think the top photo really works well partly because the ceiling is not very high. The photo on the top has quite a high ceiling and can get away with a white ceiling. I think it is important to see the whole room before making a judgement on the second photo.

Really love the yellow!

Val
Val
7 years ago

Painted ceilings have been on my mind a lot lately! We have cathedral ceilings in our great room with a kitchen, dining and living room. I’m looking for the perfect blue to wrap up the walls and ceiling. I think it will expand the space. I’m also considering removing the picture molding from the 90’s for better flow for the paint color. Do you think that will work?

Val
Val
7 years ago

Thanks Kristie! 🙂

Lisa
Lisa
7 years ago

When should you paint the ceiling lighter than the wall color? Is it when the ceiling is high or the room is large?

Barbara
7 years ago

Another great post Kristie. The ceiling is often like the weird cousin you don’t know what to do with. But, now we know!

Have you checked out the Sisterhood yet? http://www.theblogsisters.com

Cheers!, barbara

Pamela
Pamela
7 years ago

I had an old cracked ceiling in my 90 year old kitchen so I used wainscot on the ceiling that I first painted by mixing equal parts water and paint and then wiped off leaving a pickled (green) look and finished with several coats of polyurethane. I painted the upper walls white and finished with white crown molding. The kitchen looks fresh and unique. It is my favorite thing about my house.

Kelly
7 years ago

I too love the way the color wraps up on the ceiling in the kitchen photo! Very pretty!

jeannie
jeannie
7 years ago

I love this tip! I so wish I could do this in my kitchen, it is such a different look – opens the room up! But I have popcorn ceilings – boo. Any suggestions for textured ceilings? I don’t want to do beadboard, as I plan on doing that for my bathroom ceiling. Are the hard to remove, is it a DIY project? Thanks!

Michelle@Faith, Trust & Pixie Dust

What do I think? I think everything you do is brilliant! I just love this beautiful yellow. So I’ve been reading the comments & I gather that even though the color looks lighter on the ceiling – it is the same paint (only in a different sheen)?

Warmly, Michelle

Eileen
Eileen
7 years ago

Just had to update you that I just painted my kitchen–walls and ceiling–which I wouldn’t have done had I not just read this post. I used eggshell on both everything (I hate cutting in so using the same sheen saved time) and it looks fantastic. It’s a Benjamin Moore color called Gray Cashmere and I can’t quite decide if it’s more of a blue-gray or a green-gray.

Love, love, love it!

Eileen
Eileen
7 years ago

Definitely reads lighter. Yesterday was cloudy here is the northwest and the ceiling looked just slightly lighter, but today it’s very sunny and it looks much lighter, almost white if you don’t really take the time to notice. What it doesn’t do is emphasize the line between the wall and the ceiling, so I’m thrilled with it. Now I’m painting the adjoining family room, which doesn’t get nearly as much natural light, in a shade just a hint lighter than the gray cashmere. I’m pretty confident that it will look great, but my I-hate-change child is pouting. Everyone else is… Read more »

Jessica
Jessica
7 years ago

Hi! I just found your blog and LOVE it. I just moved into a new home and I’ve been trying to decide on a paint color. My question regarding painting the ceiling is what do you do if your kitchen and family room are completely open to each other (only separated by an island) but the family room has crown molding and the kitchen does not?

Jessica
Jessica
7 years ago

Thank you, Kristie! 🙂

Jennifer Eanes Foster
Jennifer Eanes Foster
7 years ago

Hi Krisite,

I just found your blog and this post on painting the ceiling.  I am the interior designer for the kitchen on the top photo (painted ceiling).  This was a great post and explanation on what painting the ceiling can do for a room with no crown molding.  It can scare some clients, but it makes such a difference.  I tell them the same thing about rooms with angled ceilings/under gables…wrap the color on the walls, angled ceilings, and flat ceilings.

Love your blog!

 

Melissa
Melissa
7 years ago

Jennifer,

Please tell us the name and brand of this shade of yellow… It's so hard to find the right one!

thanks!

Sonya
Sonya
7 years ago

I just found your blog as I am searching frantically for some insight on what to do with ceilings!!!  We are building a new home and I have been totally stressing over trim/ceiling colors.  I'm going with a very neutral palette, using Valspar Moose Mousse on the walls in my biggest open area (den, dining, breakfast, kitchen area – all of which have crown molding) and Lovely Bluff in the bedrooms and hallways (most of which have crown)  with December Starlight as my trim color.  But I have been totally confused on what to do with the ceilings because my builder had told me… Read more »

Sonya
Sonya
7 years ago

Thank you,  if I decided to go a shade or two different on the ceiling than on the crown, would you recommend going lighter or darker than the crown??   Or do you just prefer it to be the same?  I have to be honest, I've never paid a lot of attention to the ceilings in houses until this!

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[…] while it is actually the same color as the walls. The result? A ceiling that appears higher and a room that feels bigger because it’s no longer visually dissected by the white ceiling that started two-thirds of the […]

trackback

[…] The bedroom actually looks larger – in large part due to the lighter paint color than extends up and over the room. In this situation, I chose to paint the ceiling the same as the wall color. Notice there is no crown molding at the intersection between the ceiling and wall (more on this topic here). […]

Malgorzata Turek
Malgorzata Turek
1 year ago

Hi, would this work if you choose the medium to dark color? Would the color overpower the room?

Jennifer
Jennifer
1 year ago

What if it’s a dark colour? Our master has 2 windows and a sliding door as well as 5 doorways ( closets and en-suite) and we picked a beautiful indigo shade. We have 8’ ceilings and no crown moulding. Too dark?? Thoughts?

Meika Zack
Meika Zack
4 months ago

Hi Kristie! Wondering what you think about painting the ceiling when the room is a darker color. My kitchen has maple cabinets and eggplant purple walls there is a connected (case opening) dining area with wrap around bay windows so it gets tons of light. In the dining area I have a metallic gold ceiling but in the kitchen the ceiling is white I have been dying to paint it the eggplant color but everyone thinks it will be to dark. What do you think as a professional. I know it sounds crazy to have an eggplant kitchen but I… Read more »

Meika Zack
Meika Zack
4 months ago
Reply to  Meika Zack

If it helps the color is behr plum rich if that helps

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