How to Choose Ceiling Paint Colors

Design ideas for the wall we often forget!

By Jan Soults Walker

Things are looking up in rooms where you give some thought to selecting paint colors for ceilings. Here's how to influence space perception with ceiling color.

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Dramatic Transitional Boy's Room by John Douglas Eason
John Douglas Eason

Live large. Raise a low ceiling with light paint colors. Pale hues and white appear to recede, making the ceiling seem further away. Similarly, high-gloss or semi-gloss sheens reflect light and help lift the ceiling. Careful though, as glossy sheens also draw attention to uneven or flawed ceiling surfaces. (Read more: Design Problem, Solved: Low Ceilings.)

Fool the eye. Paint a band of color about 6 to 12 inches wide around the perimeter of the ceiling to match the wall color. This wallcovering trick creates the illusion that your walls are taller and that your room has more height.

Be brave. Dark color on a low ceiling or bright, light colors on a tall ceiling can instill a dramatic effect in a room lacking inspiration. Feel free to experiment with unexpected and bold color choices overhead.

Get cozy. When a room feels too large or cavernous, it's difficult to get comfortable. Instantly make a room appear warmer and more intimate by applying dark color to the ceiling. Deeper shades make a ceiling feel lower, and flat or low sheens enhance the effect by absorbing light.

Read How to Choose Wall Paint Colors for more paint-selecting ideas.

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