What Color Should I Paint My Ceilings?

You recently moved into your new house and have painstakingly planned and selected your wall colors. Unfortunately, now you're left with bright white ceilings. Should you ignore them or incorporate them into your room's color scheme? The debate continues as to whether ceilings deserve the same design treatment as walls. The consensus is the ceiling is considered the "fifth wall" in a room and shouldn't be overlooked with regard to color. Color on the ceiling can make a diminutive room appear more spacious, make a large room feel cozy, or provide character to an otherwise uninspiring space.

Neutral Shades
Neutral shades on the ceiling catch and reflect light just as well as white paint, without the glaring result. Stick to lighter neutral colors in a room with minimal natural light. Paint your ceiling in light tans, creams, taupes or grays to brighten up a north-facing room with few windows.

Monochromatic Scheme

A ceiling color chosen within a room's monochromatic scheme is instantly pleasing to the eye and is accomplished with little effort. Begin with your current wall paint color and take it a few shades lighter. The effect is harmonious, soothing and sophisticated.

Contrasting Color

Painting a contrasting color on the ceiling instantly adds visual excitement to a room. The rule of thumb for selecting a contrasting color is to choose one opposite on the color wheel to your wall color. Stay with colors of the same intensity (do not mix a pastel with an intense color) to avoid competing colors.

Metallic Leaf
A metallic leaf ceiling effect begins with a dark base coat topped with a layer of metallic paint and glaze. Try this ceiling in your dining or powder room for a touch of sophistication. Further enhance the drama and warm glow of the metallic leaf by introducing subdued lighting to the room.

Single Color
Use your wall color on the ceiling. By enveloping your room in one color, you unify the room and give the illusion of a more intimate space. In an average-size room, this technique is most effective with lighter neutral colors. A warm, rich color works well in a large room with a high ceiling.

A white ceiling is not necessarily a bad thing. White can make the ceiling fade away, allowing you to focus on other elements in the room. Avoid sterile whites and instead consider whites with warm undertones. A dramatic wall color with a crisp white ceiling and matching crown molding can be striking.

 Brian Moloney via Flickr

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