HomeThe Best Paint ColoursBenjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams: Paint IdeasWhat Colour Do I Paint the Ceiling?

What Colour Do I Paint the Ceiling?

Posted on June 2, 2015 by KylieMawdsley


How to Choose the Best Paint Colour for Your Ceiling

(Partner post to ‘The 3 Best Benjamin Moore Off-White Paint Colours’)

When you’re updating your wall colours, one thing usually leads to another and you often end up painting not just the walls, but the ceiling and trim as well.

That’s right, you don’t just have to choose a colour for your WALLS, but for your CEILING TOO – WILL THE MADNESS EVER END!?

But have no fear, ceilings aren’t that hard to figure out once you know what your choices are…

Ceiling Paint Idea #1

Paint the Ceiling the Same Colour as the Trim

For longevity, this is always a good choice as no matter what colour you do the walls in later years, the ceiling can always stay the same!

What colour to paint a ceiling if its flat. Kylie M INteriors E-design

Works Best For:

  • Consistency and simplicity
  • The same ceiling running through different rooms
  • If you are OCD about your wall colours like me and change colours frequently
  • Textured ceiling or flat ceiling
  • Small rooms or rooms with a low ceiling (as long as the walls are light coloured)

living room with vaulted ceiling, fake, faux wood beam, chandelier, Gray Owl paint colour. Kylie M Interiors Color Consulting and E-decor

Points to Ponder (the good, bad and ugly)

  • It’s consistent and easy to remember when you’re painting walls or doing touch-ups.
  • If your walls are painted a medium or dark colour, a white ceiling/trim can make the space look smaller due to the high contrast. Low contrast can make a space look larger than it is.
  • Remember, your ceiling is likely to pick up reflections from other colours so even a white ceiling can look subtly different in every room!

Check this out ‘The 3 Best Benjamin Moore Off-White Paint Colours for Trim and More…’

Ceiling Paint Idea #2

Paint the Ceiling a Lighter Version of the Wall Colour

This is nice for a softer, lower contrast look, but can be tricky to mix and match as ‘lightened versions’ of the wall colour CAN work, but aren’t always the best match.

Dining room traditional, slightly country style. Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray, crown molding, wainscoting. Kylie M INterior E-design, client before image

Works Best For:

  • Small rooms or rooms with a low ceiling.
  • A low contrast look – can make a space look bigger / ceiling look higher.
  • Tone-on-tone – less visual interruption for a more simple look
  • This works well if you want a low-contrast, tone-on-tone look

Points to Ponder

  • If you like to change your wall colour every so often you’ll scream bloody murder when you realize you have to change the ceiling colour as well
  • In a home with many different wall colours/ceiling colours, it can get a bit busy with no ‘common thread’
  • It is not fool-proof as often the lighter version of a wall colour is not as nice as the original and the undertones CAN shift. Be sure to get samples and check them ou

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

Important Note:  Always have your paint company mix a sample pot for you. Why? Well if your wall colour has a lot of red or orange in it, the lighter version may be quite ‘pink or peach’.  Or maybe that fresh green you love on your walls turns into a mint green on your ceiling. You’ll be pretty safe when dealing with neutrals, but as soon as you are considering colour, make sure you get it tested. (Hey, if I got Tim tested, surely you can get your paint colour tested)

Benjamin Moore cannot lighten/darken their own sample pots. To get a sample of a BM colour lightened, have H.Depot colour match it for you and mix it into one of their own sample pots – they can lighten and darken it for you with their paint mixing system.

Ceiling Paint Idea #3

Paint the Ceiling the Same Colour as the Walls

This is one you have to be careful with as it won’t work in every room!

Sherwin Williams Accessible Beige in open concept layout. Vaulted 2 storey ceilings in mountain retreat with leather and light wood flooring. Kylie M INteriors E-design

Works Best For:

  • Rooms with flat ceilings
  • If your wall meets your ceiling and doesn’t necessarily run straight and level
  • Rooms with either a light paint colour OR dark paint colour – does not work as well with medium tones
  • Small room with either a small ceiling or ceiling that slopes to a small postage stamp size

Points to Ponder

  • Contrary to popular belief, you can also do this with a darker paint colour as darker colours can make corners recede and actually make a space look larger.  A white ceiling with dark walls is a ‘high contrast’ look which can make a space look smaller.
  • Less tedious cutting in to do (hurray!) as you can just slap in in those corners and get rolling!
  • Ceilings are usually a flat finish and you might not want this finish on your walls so don’t be afraid to change the sheen level from your walls to ceiling.

Ceiling Paint Idea #4

Paint the Ceiling Darker Than The Walls

This is great for a more moody, intimate approach (also great for tray ceilings)

what paint colour to do ceiling in home theatre,Kylie M Interiors E-design, online paint colour consulting

See the whole project here: E-Design Home Theater

  • High ceilings
  • To make a room feel more intimate
  • To accent crown moulding

When I say ‘darker’ you can take me literally or not. Dark can simply be a few tones darker than the wall colour or something striking and high contrast like the photo above…

If you have a high ceiling and it is a flat finish, consider painting it a darker colour. This will bring the energy in the room down and make it feel more intimate. This does not work well with textured ceilings as darker colours bring out texture which can make it a feature (not a good thing).

Dark or coloured ceilings can accent beautiful crown moulding and decorative details – more so than a light paint colour.

Have Some Fun!

If you’re feeling brave and really want to step outside of the decorative box, consider doing a finish on your ceilings that is metallic, pearlescent, fresco or textured. Benjamin Moore and Martha Stewart have some fabulous finishes (online doesn’t show well, its best to go to the store).

Chat soon,

Kylie M Interiors, decorating blog, e-design, online colour consulting expert. signature





  1. I was looking for an idea for a DIY headboard when I came across one that led me to your website, I had to check it out because my granddaughter’s name is Kylie and her last name is Moore so with the same name and last name initial it was inevitable. I am glad I did, I read several of your posts /articles and they were very interesting, helpful and funny to say the least. I subscribed and look forward to seeing more information on how to make the best of the space you have.

    1. Well Donna, there can NEVER be enough Kylie M’s in the world! I’m glad you found me and even more glad you found the information helpful!

      Chat soon,
      Kylie M (#2, or #1 – it’s hard to say)….

  2. Any recommendations for rooms that don’t have crown molding? The ceilings are not particularly high, one room has significant sloping. Planning on painting walls light/medium colors – gentle cream, abalone in the sloped ceiling room, and palladian blue. Do crown moldings make a medium height ceiling look lower? Just wondering why they are all over the first story of my house (higher ceilings) and but not in the second story bedrooms. ?

  3. Thanks for all your tips and knowledge! Your humor too! Do you think that BM Sandy Beaches 946 with an LRV of 79.65 is light enough to paint the ceiling the same color? I do like the pointer that same (existing white) throughout the house makes for easier future wall paint change ups though! I am painting my room in Benjamin Moore Sandy beaches. I strongly considered one of your favorites Gentle Cream which is also so nice in my room but due to it’s North East direction and low light after morning time, I liked the brightness of the Sandy Beaches color and it seems to work well with teak, light wood floors, gold framed art etc. Have you ever reviewed the color B.M. Sandy Beaches AKA Capri Coast? Mahalo & Cheers!

    1. Post

      Hiya Bonnie, you MUST be living in one of my fave places in the world – Hawaii!

      So, if the room is WELL-LIT and the ceiling is FLAT – yes, I would do it. However, if it’s a textured ceiling, I’d be nervous and maybe get a sample of Capri Coast made up at 50% lighter – actually, this might be a good option ANYWAY! You might also get a sample 75% and see which one feels best to you 🙂


  4. Favorite SW ceiling paint? Bright White was too cool/blue. Pure White? Was also thinking about Dover White, which is what our kitchen cabinets are. Though, I was reading it might be too “dingy” looking for ceiling. Interesting, as I don’t get that at all form our cabinets.


    1. Post

      Oooo, with Dover White cabinets you want to be careful how BRIGHT/WHITE you go on the ceiling. You might consider getting Dover White made 50% lighter, so you still have some warmth, but a bit less depth/more brightness 🙂

  5. Hi Kylie, what a great site! Planning on Gray Cashmere for bedrooms and Balboa Mist for rest of house, with Chantilly Lace trim for all (would that work with both? Was thinking it would tie it in). Was thinking of going with your suggestion of lighter shade for ceiling. What has worked best for you with Gray Cashmere and Balboa Mist? Pretty good natural lighting throughout.

    1. Post

      Well, thank you, Angela! If it were ME, heck, I’d be doing Chantilly Lace on the ceiling too – no doubt about it!

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