When Your Tray Ceiling Looks Like a Wedding Cake – How to Paint It

A tray ceiling (a ceiling with series of steps or layers) can be a special architectural feature in a home. Lately, I’ve chosen paint colors for several rooms with some MEGA tray ceilings – so many layers that they rival a towering wedding cake.  It’s a very dramatic architectural feature, to say the least.

This is a story of a lovely client whose husband contacted me about giving his wife a bedroom makeover for her birthday:

how to paint a tray with multiple layers

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When I first met with my client to discuss the changes she might like, I learned that while she didn’t dislike her master bedroom, the custom silk draperies had begun rot from sun exposure and the custom bedding was showing some wear and tear that couldn’t be repaired.  Here is a photo of the room the first day I saw it:

DSC_4843

 

 

A lovely room.  Notice all those layers in the tray ceiling:

wedding cake trey ceiling

before 

 

Can you see why I liken it to a wedding cake?  I spoke with my client about how she’d like her room to be different – the answer was:  less formal and brighter.  All the existing furniture would remain – this was more about a shift in color and fabrics.  We decided on a combination of custom bedding and ready-made curtains and a slight change in the color palette.  Notice that the way we hung the new window treatments lest in much more light into the room:

blue designer bedrooms

 after

 

We also changed out the lampshades and added a few custom pillows for the bed and chair.  Let me show you how we painted out that wedding cake trey ceiling:

painting a tray ceilingafter

 

It’s still an impressive effect, just not as showy.  The dark color in the uppermost tray looks like night sky, and the overall effect is less dizzying than the way it was painted out before.  

before after

 

 

I think the room looks fresher, don’t you?  Here’s a view from another angle:

designer bedrooms

after

 

I love the fabrics we chose for the bedding.  We moved away from the raw silk she had before and opted for less formal fabrics in varied textures.  

custom bedding 

bedding fabrics

 

We brightened up the master bathroom while we were at it.  The walls were brown and the ceiling was a grayed-blue.  Here’s a before photo:

DSC_4852

before

 

You may notice that the ceiling paint color in the bathroom appears to be in the same family as the ceiling paint color in the bedroom, just a few shades lighter.    So, we left the bathroom ceiling as-is and chose to continue the new bedroom wall color into the bathroom to unite the entire space.  The darker bedroom ceiling color would have been too dark for this lower ceiling.  Here’s the after:

green bathroomafter

 

You can see how the wall color picks up the accent tile in the shower.  I love how the colors flow from one room into the other.

master bedroom design

after 

 

The changes we made are subtle, but I think they go a long way in updating and brightening this master bedroom and bathroom.  What’s your favorite thing about these rooms?

Just in case you’re wondering, the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA) convention in Las Vegas last week went GREAT!  I’ll share more about my experience there later this week.

If you want to create a beautiful home, check out my video classes that will teach you how to choose the right paint colors and arrange your furniture without having to leave the house!

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Sherry
Guest

GREAT job freshening the space! It looks updated and bright now.

Dana Tucker
Guest

That ceiling looks 1000x better. Great makeover 🙂

Jennifer Collins
Guest

BEAUTIFUL job, as usual!
It really is surprising that trey ceilings usually have an unfortunate paint job. Once you’ve see one done wrong it’s easy to never make that mistake.
Too bad you couldn’t talk her out of those bath mats though!

Connie
Guest
Connie

I never even noticed the bath mats. What is your objection? What would prefer?

Nancy
Guest
Nancy

Wow! Fabulous!

Laura Ingalls Gunn
Guest

Bravo! I had such a ceiling when I lived in Georgia. While it was a trend to paint it a two tone look I opted for one color just as you did. Great work!

Barb V.
Guest
Barb V.

So much more modern! Did you change the bedroom wall color at all? Hard to tell.

Michelle L.
Guest
Michelle L.

Beautiful update! And I know you loved that she already had chandeliers in the bedroom AND bathroom!

Cindy Hall
Guest
Cindy Hall

Why did you remove the rug?

Kathi
Guest
Kathi

It is gorgeous,what was the wives reaction? It is amazing what just paint and a few minor changes in a room can accomplish without spending a fortune.You are so good at what you do,Kristie-kudos to you!

Lesa Bell
Guest

Thank you for this post Kristie. I find this is clients’ houses all of the time. The ceilings are just way too busy! Your way is far more attractive and calming to the eye.

Tammy Roberts
Guest
Tammy Roberts

Looks beautiful. Glad you answered the question about the rug because I too wondered if you had specified a new rug.

Kathy Alexander
Guest

Beautiful job and I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I just did my own personal bedroom in colors nearly identical to this about two months ago. The blue trey ceiling is so soothing to gaze at and when the draperies are open it feels like the sky extends into the room.

Jill
Guest
Jill

I love that you’ve connected to two spaces. That’s a mistake I see with some of my clients bedrooms and ensuite bathrooms. It’s also nice so see a redesign using most of what was there. That’s what I do best and I always love the challenge. Great job!

Barbara
Guest
Barbara

Both rooms look absolutely georgeous! Could you share all the paint colors with us? Thanks

kelly
Guest

Great job! I think the window treatment change is a big, big improvement. And I love that you did not have to spend a fortune to make the rooms so much brighter. Looks lovely!

Connie Nikiforoff Designs
Guest

The whole room is so much lighter and fresher now. My favorite part is the way you did the ceiling. You can still see the ‘layers’ but it’s not so imposing 🙂

Luci@BungalowAtHome
Guest

What a great update Kristie! Much more current and less fussy!

Francie
Guest
Francie

This looks great! This could make one long for a tray ceiling. The fabric choices for the curtains and bed are great. I actually have a swatch of the fabric on that long cylinder pillow as I tried to find a spot for it in my house. It is really pretty!

Alison Bennett
Guest
Alison Bennett

WOW! You did a great job! Just love the before and after photos to see what you did.

Jil Sonia Interiors
Guest

What a beautiful makeover! I wonder why so many designers use silk for drapery treatment – it fades and disintegrates so quickly!

I too was hired as a surprise 30th birthday present for a client’s wife. She was away for a week – so we did it all secretly whilst she was away. Upon her return, hubby just let her wander upstairs and find her ‘new’ bedroom and bathroom. She loved it and I can certainly see why your client would love it. Superb job!

Kath Barry
Guest
Kath Barry

This bedroom is now warm and comfortable. I want climb into that bed. Makes one smile just looking at it…
What a great job!

Livia
Guest

Wonderful job! You changed a forced “Look at me!” elegance into a peaceful yet sophisticated retreat.

debbi in Texas
Guest

Very fresh, calming and bright. I love the wall color and the bath trim tiles coordinating; it is a wonderful change with only wall paint and some fabrics. I really like the change made to the tray ceiling.

Jenny B.
Guest

This is great! I love what you did with the tray ceiling. I’ve been browsing lots of real estate photos lately, and have seen several overwhelming tray ceilings. This one looks lovely, though! In the before shot, the ceiling was the first thing I noticed. In the after shot, I didn’t notice it at all until I read about what you did. That’s how it should be. The ceiling should complement the room, not steal the show. 🙂

trackback

[…] Now let’s take a look at the previous state of the kitchen.  Red walls and ceiling, racing stripe tray, and high contrast.  That contrast can really make a small space look smaller and just plain choppy.  Your eye doesn’t even know where to go.  And look how many stripes there are, starting from the bottom:  tan flooring, white baseboard, red wall, white chair rail, red wall, white ceiling, red tray stripe, white crown molding, red ceiling.  Whew, I’m getting dizzy. […]

Angela
Guest
Angela

I love the look! Do you paint all the tray with a semi gloss trim paint or a combination of flat wall paint in the trim paint color? Thanks.

Brenda
Guest
Brenda

Hi, The colors are beautiful! Can you share the brand and names of the color schemes. Thank you!