Taming the Tray Ceiling

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

 

 

This is how some people think you should paint out a tray ceiling:

One Word:  YIKES!

That kind of multi-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 tray!  Hopefully, you’ll see the virtue of a different tactic:

decorologist dining room

Another Tray 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.  Dated color placement is a thing, too (not just dated colors or color combos).  Here’s another look at the “before”:

bad tray trey ceiling colors

Tray Ceiling Colors “Before”

Below is the way I chose to paint out this tray 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.

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!

black bannister

If you need help choosing the RIGHT colors for your home and making decisions about WHERE those colors should be applied, check out my Just the Right Paint Color instructional video before you get out your paintbrush!

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Jean Molesworth Kee
Guest

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?

Colleen
Guest
Colleen

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!

Sheila@SZInteriors
Guest

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

Amy White
Guest
Amy White

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

Holly
Guest

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.

Will Jordan
Guest
Will Jordan

Actually, she is wrong about the spelling. “Tray” is the correct spelling. Do a little searching in some online dictionaries and you will find that there is no such thing as a “trey ceiling”.

Kathy
Guest
Kathy

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… Read more »

Paula Van Hoogen
Guest
Paula Van Hoogen

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??

Cris Angsten
Guest

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.

Colleen
Guest
Colleen

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.

Linda Beam
Guest

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.

Tennessee Girl
Guest
Tennessee Girl

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

Patsy Oveton
Guest

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.

trackback

[…] 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, […]

jen
Guest
jen

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?

Brenda
Guest
Brenda

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.

Joann Rogers
Guest
Joann Rogers

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!

Lesa Bell
Guest

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

Cynthia Gadol
Guest
Cynthia Gadol

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… Read more »

Will Jordan
Guest
Will Jordan

Bravo! Well researched and well stated.

Barbara
Guest
Barbara

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… Read more »

Will Jordan
Guest
Will Jordan

I would challenge you to produce a reputable source that indicates that a tray ceiling is actually spelled “trey”. No reputable dictionary in the world contains this meaning for “trey”. How about you do a little research and then correct your web page?

Linda Bush
Guest
Linda Bush

It’s sad that this is such a valuble post and someone has to spoil it and gripe over how the word TRAY/TREY is spelled! Who cares! We know what it is not matter how it’s spelled, I say if someone is good enought to share precious knowledge with us we need to be polite and respectful and not argue spelling!

Shannon Hickman
Guest
Shannon Hickman

I’m always impressed with how you take a traa ceiling and make it look wonderful! Some trae ceilings are so “striped” they bring the eye upward – in confusion – because striped ceilings stand out and lack flow. Personally, I like tra ceilings that are pretty monochromatic. Anyway, every trai ceiling I’ve seen you improve upon looks fantastic! Keep up the good work on the traey ceilings. ( I bet every reader knows what “the word that begins with ‘t'” means in my sentences, despite the spelling. 😉 ) Be kind, everyone!

Sherrie
Guest
Sherrie

I know I’m coming to the party late, but I hope it’s not too late. My husband fell in love with a house that has tray/trey ceilings and I think they look dated. Do you know if they can be eliminated and if so is it very expensive to change? It’s details like this that drive me crazy. Thanks!