How to Make Your Ceilings Pop With Paint

Updated on March 5, 2020
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Linda is a seasoned writer and home-decorating authority. She loves sharing design trends, decor ideas, and useful tips with her readers.


Your newly decorated room is nothing short of fabulous. You’ve chosen the perfect wall color. The furnishings and accessories are spot on. But you have this gnawing feeling that something is still missing. Take a look at your ceilings. Do they complete the space or just fade into nothingness?

Consider pampering the forgotten “fifth wall” with color, a hint of luster or stenciled patterns to give your room the crowning touch it deserves. The 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.

Make It Sophisticated

Create instant sophistication by painting the ceiling the same color as your walls. This technique works best in rooms with high ceilings or those with crown molding. If you think the effect will be too overpowering, use a ceiling color two shades lighter or darker than your wall color. Or simply add white pigment to your paint to lighten the look of the ceiling or walls.

Using the same or a shade or two different on the ceiling gives the room a tailored look.
Using the same or a shade or two different on the ceiling gives the room a tailored look. | Source

Enliven a Neutral Room

Take a room with neutral to the next level by painting the ceiling a vivid yet complimentary color. Imagine a room with taupe walls with an eye-catching, coral red ceiling. It not only adds interest; it gives you another great way to inject your personality into a space. Showcase chunky crown molding or coved detail by reinforcing the architectural features with a dose of vibrant ceiling paint color.

A lively coral is the perfect contrast with the taupe walls.
A lively coral is the perfect contrast with the taupe walls. | Source

Add Warmth

An open concept space with towering walls often feels cold and impersonal. You can easily warm up the lower portion of the room with rugs, furnishings and window treatments. However, even a killer chandelier will feel lost when set against a white ceiling. Add warmth to the entire space painting the ceiling in an intense shade like navy, black, or gunmetal. This is a sure-fire way to cozy up even the most cavernous room.

This deep blue definitely makes this large dining room much more cozy.
This deep blue definitely makes this large dining room much more cozy. | Source

Glam It Up

If you’re a glamorous sort who appreciates shimmer and shine, try experimenting with paint glazes on the ceiling. You can go subtle or bold. Use a neutral color as the base and apply a topcoat of matching pearlescent glaze to introduce a hint of glam. Got a country-inspired room that is yearning for a tin ceiling? Stencil one on with metallic glaze in any finish you like. A reflective trompe l’oeil effect is sure to amaze.

This living room has a soft reflective effect coming from the natural light and gold ceiling.
This living room has a soft reflective effect coming from the natural light and gold ceiling. | Source

Create the Illusion of Space

Got a small room but don’t have the budget to open up the walls or raise the ceiling? Take the easy route and renovate with paint. Visually expand a small room by minimizing the contrast in color between the walls and ceiling. Also, remember that lighter colors make a room feel larger. For example, similar shades of warm gold capped by creamy yellow create a continuous plane which visually gives the room a greater sense of space. In this case, choose a ceiling paint with the same finish used on the walls.

Warm walls and a butter yellow ceiling give the bedroom a spacious feel.
Warm walls and a butter yellow ceiling give the bedroom a spacious feel. | Source

Which Shades to Use?

  • Neutral: 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 Palette: 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.
  • Shimmering Metallic: Metallic paint or a gold 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 shimmer by introducing subdued lighting to the room.
  • White: A white ceiling is not necessarily a bad thing. It can actually 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.

How to Paint a Ceiling with Color

What's Your Ceiling Color Preference?

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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2018 Linda Chechar

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    • lindacee profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Chechar 

      20 months ago from Arizona

      Thanks, Furnshop. Glad you liked the ceiling ideas.

    • lindacee profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Chechar 

      21 months ago from Arizona

      R Talloni, I agree that it does take a brave one to paint the ceiling with something other than a bland white. It is worth it to envelop the room with character and color.

    • profile image


      21 months ago

      Color on a ceiling can indeed make a huge difference in a room's ambiance. Using more than one color in a subtle way can bring in something akin to architectural detail. This look at making ceilings pop with paint is useful to anyone brave enough! :)


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