To paint, or not to paint… that is the question when it comes to the ceiling. We’re actually huge fans of painting the ceiling in many cases, especially because people fear that it might make a room feel closed in but it can actually have the opposite effect. Think about standing in a small room and looking up to see a giant white square above you. That big stark square (the unpainted ceiling) can look like it’s right on top of you, and all of that contrast that it has from the wall color can really make it pop, in a chopping-up-the-room sort of way. Meanwhile if you painted it the same color (or a slightly lighter tone) than the walls, the entire room can feel more expansive because there’s less contrast, so it won’t feel as choppy or as in-your-face as a bright white ceiling might.
Many folks will tell you not to paint your ceiling anything too dark, but we have seen that in a very small room, like a bathroom, even a relatively dark color, like a medium gray tone, can look great on the ceiling and the room will feel more open and less fractionalized by a stark white ceiling. Take our tiny master bathroom, for example, which we painted Rockport Gray:
It’s nice to see the same seamless color on the walls and ceiling. And it doesn’t feel dark since there’s a nice big white door, a white shower curtain, and some large scale art (as well as a colorful light fixture) to break things up. So if you have a room with medium or dark toned walls, but you have some lighter items (like a light sofa or duvet) you might be surprised how lofty your room might feel if you lose the stark white box over your head and make it blend with the walls!
We also painted the ceiling in our first house’s bathroom the same tone as the walls, and even though it was a khaki green color (Dune Grass), it worked! We didn’t look like martians when we looked in the mirror, since it was a subtle tone that didn’t reflect down on our faces like lime green might have. And once again it made the room feel taller and less boxed in since the ceiling sort of blended into the walls and disappeared.
I mentioned that a lighter tone of the wall color could work for the ceiling too, so that’s always an option if you’re afraid to go with something too dark. You can always ask a paint pro to give you a “half-tint” of a specific wall color, which means they’ll cut the formula with 50% more white paint, creating a lighter tone that is guaranteed to “go” with the original color. Or you can even go with something in a totally different color than the walls for a more playful look, like we did in our daughter’s nursery with celery green walls and a soft aqua ceiling.
As for the finish, most ceilings look great in a flat finish since it hides the most imperfections, although in a bathroom, something eggshell or even semi-gloss can work since it’s great for the moisture-factor in a room that might get a little steamy.
What are your preferences for ceiling color? We know tons of folks who embrace white ceilings and others who don’t have one in their entire house! There’s definitely not one “right” answer, which is kind of the fun part!