HomeThe Best Paint ColoursBenjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams: Paint IdeasWHAT COLOR SHOULD YOU PAINT A HIGH CEILING? White, Wall Color, or WHAT?


Posted on September 25, 2023 by KylieMawdsley


Before you start slappin’ any ole color on your ceiling, do you know which one is BEST for your room? It might not be white! But don’t worry, there is some method to the madness (albeit, it’s a bit of method and a LOT of madness).

In previous blog posts, we talked about how to tackle cathedral/angled/vaulted ceilings, tray ceilings, as well as the best paint colors for ceilings. This one is dedicated entirely to high ceilings that are perfectly flat/horizontal at the top – no angles.

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First, if your ceiling has texture (including popcorn), let me make it easy for you…

Paint it the same color as your trim.

Of course, that’s assuming your trim is the right color for your room. If not, then you may have a bigger project on your hands.

If you have wood trim, find a shade of white that coordinates with your wall color. While unicorns exist (a good-looking, non-white textured/popcorn ceiling), white is usually right.

2 storey entryway or foyer, white walls, Sherwin Williams Pure White, black front door, wood stairs, sliding barn door. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint colour, virtual diy decorating ideas (2)

White is DEFINITELY right in an entryway with white walls and trims. 

Now, for those of you with flat (non-textured ceilings), let’s check out the options…



While getting all artsy-fartsy is tempting, the most popular paint choice is to paint the ceiling the same color as the trim…

Living room, tall windows and ceilings, Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray, best greige paint colour on walls, oak floor, taupe neutral sofa. Kylie M.

While the ceiling in the above great room looks similar to the wall color, it’s just the natural light affecting it – the ceiling matches the trim. Remember, your natural light, exposure, interior lighting conditions, and surrounding wall colors will shift how the ceiling color looks – even if it’s just white!

In a room like this next one, again, you would likely match the ceiling to the trim…

Beige with orange-pink undertones, tile carpet and paint colour ideas. KYLIE M INTERIORS



While it’s not at the top of the list, painting your high ceiling the same color as your walls is doable. However, if you ask this opinionated little Ginger, it’s not the best option.

Why shouldn’t you paint your ceiling the same as the walls?

You know how I love to hear myself talk (and type), so let’s bullet point this bad boy…

Contemporary design living room with tall tile fireplace with modern linear gas insert and floating hearth. Sherwin Williams Repose Gray. Kylie M Interiors E-decor and Design Online

Paint Color Review of Sherwin Williams Repose Gray


  • CON: Rooms with tall ceilings already have a LOT of wall space for a color to live on, especially large rooms. Adding more of this color to the ceiling leaves less room for contrast and layering (it can be too much of a good thing).
  • CON: Some high ceilings are naturally shaded as they don’t get a lot of natural light; what looks like the perfect depth on your walls can look darker on your ceiling.
  • PRO: Matching your ceiling to your walls creates a seamless look that suits some styles (zen).
  • PRO: If your ceiling line isn’t straight where it meets the walls, using the same color helps hide imperfections.
  • PRO: If you’re DIY’ing it, it’s WAY easier to use the same color (less cutting in). It can also save money if you’re hiring a professional painter.
  • HARD TO SAY: Due to the ceiling height/lighting situation, some white ceilings look similar to the walls once the natural shading occurs; whether this is good or bad is open to perception.
  • HUGE CON: If you want to change your wall color in the future, you have to paint the ceiling, too – and that’s one darn high ceiling.

Just remember…

Wall colors LOVE having white trims or ceilings to play with – whether the contrast is high or low.



You do you, boo, but I wouldn’t (for most homes). Sure, some rooms can pull off a moody, dark, dramatic ceiling or even a more moderate one. However, the average room in the average home suits white.

If you see a dark accent color on a ceiling, it’s more often…

  • in a room with crown molding (especially bedrooms and dining rooms)
  • found in homes with Tuscan-style finishes
  • generally in rooms with lower ceilings, including small, boutique-style bathrooms
  • rooms that have a particular mood or vibe (below)

While I might recommend them to the odd client when it suits their space, style, and architectural details, a high ceiling is usually painted lighter or white.

If you have a tall, dark ceiling that you love, I’d love to see photos – they’re few and far between!

This next ceiling (lower, on the left side of the photo) might look dark, but that’s just the photography. However, based on this entryway’s moody, old-world style, if the owner wants a darker shade on the higher ceiling, it could look cool…

Sherwin Williams Aesthetic White, best off white beige in traditional vaulted entryway foyer, greige trim, black door, gothic style. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, wrought iron railing

However, let’s consider this room’s existing palette: an off-white wall color and medium-depth/non-white trim. For these reasons, I’d more likely paint the ceiling the same as the walls (Sherwin Williams Aesthetic White).

If you’d like to paint your high ceiling a dark color, consider crown molding to separate the ceiling and wall. Otherwise, the effect can look a bit bush-league if your room’s style doesn’t support it.

Funny enough, without crown molding, a darker ceiling can make a ceiling look a bit higher. In comparison, a crown molding border and a dark ceiling can give the illusion of a lower ceiling (all of that is open to perception).



Second in line to white are off-whites. Whether you choose a lighter shade of your wall or a coordinating color, soft colors on ceilings can work if you want a lower contrast look.

What colour paint ceiling. Desert Tan walls, Timid White trim, close to Rich Cream ceiling. staircase with wrought iron and vaulted ceiling. Kylie M Interior Edesign, golden paint color

If you want to soften the mood in your room, you can also consider a darker shade of your wall color. Again, crown molding helps for both of these approaches but isn’t as necessary as it is with most dark ceilings.


It can work because the contrast is lower. Just remember to make sure your ceiling line is straight where it meets the wall!

Assuming you know your wall color, ask the paint store to make sample pots 50% and 75% lighter or darker. Undertones can SHIFT as you adjust colors, so make sure it still jibes! Paint up a nice big piece of poster board and hang it on your ceiling where it meets the wall. Move it to different spots to see how the natural and interior lighting affects it.

Remember, depending on the type of light your ceiling gets (or lack thereof), your ‘considerably lighter’ paint color could look much darker in the end – your darker color could REALLY look skookum!

Let’s make a quick segway to talk about cream trim…



Cream-colored trim. Ooof, this is a creature unto itself. Often, the cream on your trim isn’t suitable as a ceiling color as it’s too yellow. While cream cabinets are their own topic, I see two scenarios in my Online Color Consulting regarding cream trim…

1. My clients WISH they had white trim and don’t want to use their current creamy trim color on their ceiling.

2. They like their cream trim but want a lighter, brighter look on the ceiling.

Either way – GOOD LUCK, CHUCK!

Sherwin Williams Creamy trim, wainscoting, gold paint color similar to Harmonic Tan, home decor in foyer

Remember, cream isn’t ‘just cream’; it’s a yellow paint color with a neutral base to calm it down (either a little or a lot).

One main reason people don’t use a cream color on their ceiling is that the yellow can show up to the party on a larger scale – there’s a bigger expanse for it to cover and come to life. Like me wearing a white headband versus white underwear, the white has a WAY LARGER SURFACE TO COVER on this big ole booty and looks way brighter because of it.

My next client hired me to fix her Tuscan-style bathroom and its holy hot mess of colors. The teal? It’s a topic unto itself. As for the creamy-beige-colored trim, it’s great with the travertine tile, but notice how dingy it looks compared to the white ceiling…

Bathroom update beige travertine tile in shower and tile floor with teal walls and cream trim.

I can’t wait to see the AFTER photo! 

As shown above, be cautious with painting your ceiling any old (or new) shade of white, as it can make your trim look fugly in comparison (fugly being a super professional word, I know).

Long story short, if you have cream trim (and absolutely CAN’T paint it white), you might have to paint your ceiling cream, too. However, ask your paint store to lighten your paint color by 50% and 75% (sample pots) and see how that looks. The intentions can change as you lighten a color, so make sure it doesn’t flash even more yellow.

THREE Steps To Your Perfect Paint Color: Lightening & Darkening



This approach isn’t for the faint of heart. And while it depends on the room, some rooms can pull off a ceiling color that doesn’t match the walls OR the trim.

If your room has crown molding, painting the ceiling a different color – an accent color or a lighter version of the wall – can offer a soft look compared to a white ceiling. While we discussed dark colors earlier, this approach is geared towards more moderate approaches. Whether you have dark walls and want a lightish ceiling or light walls and want a subtle depth on your ‘fifth wall,’ this idea treats your ceiling more like an accent wall.

The Best COLORS for Ceilings (Light, Medium & Dark)

I’m not sure WHAT color is on the ceiling in this kitchen (below). Because it’s heavily shaded, it cooooould be the trim color (I’d be surprised). It makes me think it could be a lightened version of the wall color…

Light maple wood kitchen cabinets, Calacatta Misty white quartz countertop, Sherwin Williams Modern Gray paint color on walls

  • I would rather the above ceiling match the white trim (assuming it doesn’t now and the shadows are just affecting it).
  • If it actually is a version of the wall color, it needs to be lightened much more to account for the natural shading in this area.
  • I’d almost rather see it a darker color than matching the walls (although it would visually weigh the room down).



While I won’t get into the decor/furnishings of it all, let’s talk about ways to jazz up your high ceiling should you find it a little too boring.



I can’t WAIT to do this in my living room (shown below), as I’m not a fan of our high ceilings. A room with high ceilings doesn’t always feel as intimate and inviting as a room with 8 to 10-foot ceilings. Of course, this is open to perception and can be somewhat remedied with decor and furnishings, but that’s a different blog post. Still, I’d nix the high ceiling if I were to build my home from scratch.

Living room, tall ceiling, vaulted, Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray best greige and White Dove. Sherwin Urbane Bronze painted stair railing. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, DIY Decorating, color ideas (1)

As for your home, cladding your ceiling in tongue and groove wood or planks isn’t for the faint of heart, DIY-wise or budget-wise. In this case, beams, especially fake ones, are easier and add a ton of visual value.

Sherwin Williams Natural Tan, living room wood beams, vaulted ceiling, fireplace, beige sectional, dark wood floors. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint colour consulting

The 8 Best Trendy Beige & Tan Paint Colors

If you’re looking for a provider, Elite Trimworks (USA) has a good selection and great Google reviews. Architectural Depot has options and great Facebook reviews. As for my Canadian homies, Sawmill Designs has beautiful products, as does the aptly named Woodbeam Company.

This next kitchen doesn’t have a high ceiling (I only use images from my Online Consulting clients, so I don’t always have the exact photo I need.) Regardless, it shows how adding beams to your ceiling is a great way to add interest…

Benjamin Moore Mysterious, dark blue black painted lower cabinets, island upper cabinets stained dark wood, granite quartzite look countertops, beams, okay floor kitchen. Kylie M Edesign




While many high ceilings have recessed lighting, having a chandelier or at least a decorative fan is ideal. These create a focal point and draw your eye up, accenting this architectural feature of your home.

We can’t see the full meal deal in this foyer, but I see the start of a high tray ceiling and a gorgeous chrome chandelier…

Open concept entryway and living room, beige tile floor, cream furniture, Sherwin Williams Aesthetic White off-white beige paint color on walls. Travertine look. Kylie M Interiors

This next living room would be missing something if not for the two-tier chandelier…

Large tall stone fireplace, Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray on walls in family room or living room, vaulted ceiling. Kylie M. Oak wood floor, best greige paint colour

Same with this next space. The light fixture adds interest to a LOT of dead air space and brings your sight line down a bit from the tall ceiling…

Living room, tall ceiling, vaulted, Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray best greige and White Dove. Sherwin Urbane Bronze painted stair railing. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, DIY Decorating, color ideas (1)

While this next lovely living room is cathedral-style/vaulted, I would love to see a more decorative chandelier or at least a fan with blades in a similar wood tone to the rattan blinds…

Traditional transitional style living room, brick fireplace, blue accents. Mantel decor. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color consulting and advice blog

The white ceiling fan doesn’t add anything to this beautiful space.

As for recessed (pot) lights on high ceilings, I’m not a fan or a chandelier (get it?). Recessed lighting has its place on some lower ceilings as it adds great general lighting and task or accent lighting, depending on the room. If you’re building a home from scratch, I wouldn’t get too carried away with recessed lighting and focus more on a central light fixture. Recessed lighting has its place, but not as the ‘end all be all’ in a room’ as it has little ambiance.



When it comes to bedrooms and high ceilings, it’s often about bringing the sight line down and making the space look more intimate – while keeping things pretty. This is hard to do with a fan.

Personally, I love sleeping with a fan on; however, I won’t sacrifice style for function (yes, I am all uppity like that). I have a table fan in our bedroom that does the trick (or a floor fan in the hot summer). Soooo, while I love the vibe in this next bedroom, and the fan probably moves air around in the most wonderful way – DAMN, would I love to see a chandelier…

Benjamin Moore Cedar Key, red oak flooring, red stain bedroom furniture, navy blue accents, arched windows. Best beige taupe, Kylie M Interiors

The Right Height to Hang Light Fixtures


The soft lighting of a well-chosen light fixture adds personality, style, and intimacy to a bedroom, living room, entryway, or dining room (the most common rooms with tall walls). It also adds a decorative touch and a focal point for the room to gather itself around.

However, if there’s one room where a darker ceiling is more likely to be found (hopefully with crown molding around it), it’s a bedroom. Again, it’s often about making the space look more intimate and inviting; a darker ceiling helps with this.

Let’s round this bad boy up with one final important point…



While it’s not the best approach for EVERY home, it sure as heck suits the average space.

But why? 

Painting ALL your ceilings white creates flow and consistency, especially in an open-concept space. This next room has high ceilings but is open to the dining room with a standard 9-foot ceiling height…

Living room, fireplace molding, Benjamin Moore Charcoal Slate, Citiy Loft walls. taupe sofa, home decor. Kylie M Online Paint color consulting exp

MSI CALACATTA IZARO, Benjamin Moore Charcoal Slate, Sherwin City Loft, open living and dining room, beam separating. Kylie M online paint consultant

Keeping these two ceilings the same color creates a visual link between the two spaces. If the ceilings are different colors, they’ll look disconnected.

Here’s another space where having the ceilings the same color is important for flow (even though you don’t see the one ceiling)…

Open concept living room and kitchen, Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray, grey sectional. White cabinets. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, client befor ephoto

Imagine the above living room ceiling in a different color – it ain’t gonna jibe.

However, if the owner of this next traditional living room wants a darker ceiling, it would make it look more intimate (I love how it is, personally)…

Living room with traditional modern sofa and furnishings, warm paint colour on walls. CLIENT PHOTO before Kylie M Interiors Edesign

Why could a darker accent ceiling work in the above living room and not the others?

  • This room is separate from others, so the flow doesn’t demand that the ceilings match – it’s its own space.
  • The crown molding offers a border between the walls and the ceiling. This isn’t ALWAYS necessary, but it sure helps!
  • While the room would need a few darker accents (rug/cushions) to help an accent ceiling belong, it’s the type of space that SUITS a bit more drama and depth.
  • The great thing about the above room is that it looks stunning with a white ceiling. It just has other options to consider, which is fun when you want to switch things up without rewriting your entire palette.

By the way, when painting your ceiling, use a flat sheen paint. As shown in this next photo, an eggshell or satin finish can be the wrong look for an area that’s not supposed to be glossy…

living room south facing, Navajo White Benjamn Moore greige furniture. Before Kylie M E-design

So there you have it! And while I’d love to say this rounds up my CEILING SERIES, lucky for you – there’s more to come!


The Ultimate Guide to White Paint Colors

What Color SHOULD You Paint Your Ceiling? PART 1

The Best Ceiling Paint Colors: Light, Medium, & More: PART 2

Vaulted & Angled Ceilings: What Color Goes Where? PART 3

TRAY CEILINGS: What Color Goes Where? PART 4

The Best WHOLE HOME Gray & Greige Paint Colors



-design and online paint colour consulting using Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams paint colors. Kylie M Interiors. DIY and affordable decorating advice blogger. Market

Chat soon, 

Kylie M Interiors Edesign, signature, online paint colour consultant using Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams paint colours. DIY update advice ideas


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