The Fifth Wall

I am always amazed at how shocked people are when I show them photographs of rooms with painted ceilings!  I just spent a few days in Calgary and Lethbridge presenting Benjamin Moore’s 2013 Colour Trends to some fabulous Albertans…… and as much as both audiences seemed thrilled with the future colour & décor ideas, there was always an “aaaaahhhhh” from the audience when I showed an image with colour on the ceiling.  “Wow – so different…..can I really do that??”   Well, during my presentation research this year I came across some vintage colour cards from Benjamin Moore’s archives and low and behold, look what I saw when I opened the pages:benjamin moore historic image

benjamin moore historic

Red ceilings, yellow ceilings……Aren’t they fabulous?  After the initial excitement of the colourful ceilings I was instantly impressed with the hand painted and drawn room scenes…..Incredible.   Other than the tube television, the scenes seem very current.

We like to think that colour & décor is so different today than it was for our folks, but isn’t it true “what goes around comes around!”

Benjamin Moore blue Kitchen

polo blue 2062-10, benjamin moorepolo blue 2062-10  (walls)

marblehead gold HC-11marblehead gold HC-11 (ceiling)

This kitchen image above with the punchy yellow ceiling is from Benjamin Moore’s 2013 Trend direction.  It seems fresh and sleek and very graphic, but apparently yellow kitchens are a real classic.  It’s really the colour combinations and the application that makes a colour seem novel again in another era.

And why not take the opportunity that your ceiling provides to add a splash of colour?  More often than not, the ceiling is painted white simply by default.  (or maybe because paint companies used to make a product called Ceiling White J)  Although white looks just fine in many cases, you have to keep in mind that the lightest element in the room tends to attract the most attention…  and the ceiling may not be your intended focal point.

benjamin moore paint color

warm gray benjamin moore revere pewter HC-172  (walls)

persimmon 2088-40persimmon 2088-40 (ceiling)

However, in this image, the ceiling is rather intended as a focal point.  Certainly in this case if it was painted white, it would disappear.  But the surprise element of mirroring the rug colour on the ceiling adds a whole other dimension to this little home office.  The splash of colour on the ceiling adds life to the room, rather than overwhelming it.

Even the smallest touch of colour on the ceiling can make a difference.  Sometimes it just makes sense to use the same colour as the wall as we did here below in a serene little sunroom.  Punctuating the ceiling with white above the large, horizontal windows would really draw the eyes UP as opposed to keeping them fixed within the room and focused on the view.  The wall colour just wraps onto the ceiling making it:
A. easier to paint and
B. more harmonious.

benjamin moore living space

pittsfield buff HC-24 pittsfield buff HC-24  (walls & ceiling)

simply white 2143-70simply white 2143-70 (trim)

Most often I recommend a coloured ceiling in a “stand-alone” room, like a bedroom, bathroom or kitchen.  However even in an open–concept design like this town-home, the yellow ceiling (you can see I like yellow ceilings! J) works throughout the main floor living and dining room. The angle of the photograph was obviously intended to highlight the ceiling, but the reality is when you are physically in this room the ceiling is not obtrusive, instead the colour just casts a subtle, warm glow, like sunshine.

benjamin moore living room

delaware putty 240 delaware putty 240 (walls)

chestertown buff HC-9chestertown buff HC-9 (ceiling)

Speaking of sunshine, which is lacking in Toronto at the moment, don’t you think this sunny nursery ceiling painted with august morning 2156-40 is so cheery?  What a great colour for baby to wake up to every morning!  Maybe I should try it in my bedroom to help me cut back my caffeine intake?!


benjamin moore orange nursery idea2156-40_august morningaugust morning 2156-40

Professional designers always consider the “fifth wall” when pulling a rooms’ colour palette together, be it subtle or bold.  Benjamin Moore recently collaborated with Toronto based designer and Dabble Magazine’s Editor in Chief Kimberley Seldon on a series of videos illustrating her tips and tricks of the trade.  If you want to see her dramatic painted ceiling examples, please link through to see this video:

Do you have a paint project on the go, or in mind for the near future?  Hopefully this post will inspire you to consider the ceiling in your colour planning.  Would you paint one of the other walls in the room WHITE if it didn’t relate to the other colours in the space? Probably not. Ensuring that the ceiling colour compliments all the other elements in the room is an ideal way to enhance the overall atmosphere.  So whether you go bold or neutral just be sure not to ignore it!

Happy Decorating!

sharon grech

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6 thoughts on “The Fifth Wall

  1. Love seeing the nursery have a orange tone ceiling. This will create a happy baby as babies look up at the ceiling more than anyother person.

  2. Although some consider me being creative at times I never thought of “the 5th wall” being painted anything other than “ceiling white”.
    Now the deal is I will gladly paint the ceiling but not in white when she asks me.

  3. I have an old tea table, I would like to paint it gloss black, your comments?? Tea tables are a bit higher than a normal table.

  4. Pingback: PAINTED CEILING | designtrolls

  5. I believe that is among the most important info for me.
    And i am satisfied reading your article. However should remark on few common things, The site taste is great,
    the articles is in reality excellent : D. Excellent process, cheers

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