HomeThe Best Paint ColoursBenjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams: Paint IdeasShould My Ceiling Color Match My Trim or Walls? PART 1

Should My Ceiling Color Match My Trim or Walls? PART 1

Posted on June 2, 2023 by KylieMawdsley

How to Choose the Best Paint Colour for Your Ceiling

When updating your wall colors, one thing usually leads to another, and you often paint not just the walls but the ceiling and trim, too – WILL THE MADNESS EVER END?

No, it doesn’t. However, my blog is here to make things a bit easier for you, especially regarding EVERYTHING paint colors! As for ACTUAL paint colors, that’s a blog post unto itself – this one is about what color you SHOULD paint your ceiling, as it relates to your walls and trims.

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And really, ceilings aren’t that hard to figure out once you know your options…



Painting your ceiling and trim the same shade is usually the BEST choice. This is a smart choice for longevity and flexibility – assuming your trim is a reasonable shade of white.


There are a few reasons…

1. It’s best not to mix and match whites in your space unless you HAVE to

2. For the longterm, white is easier to coordinate with new paint colors and interior finishes

3. Ceilings naturally shade/brighten themselves depending on the light coming into the room/time of day. This means that your ceiling can ALREADY look a bit different, so keeping it simple and as consistent as possible is best.

Primary bedroom, Sherwin Williams Aesthetic White, best off-white beige paint color on walls, White Dove trim and ceiling, white linens, toss cushions, wicker lamp, ikea side tables, Kylie M Edesign (2)

Sherwin Williams Aesthetic White and Benjamin Moore White Dove (25% lighter)



  • Consistency and simplicity.
  • Creating flow by having the same white on the trims and ceilings in adjoining rooms.
  • If you’re ADHD like me and change colors frequently, white is versatile.
  • Textured ceilings USUALLY look best in white; painting them the same white as the trim helps them belong to something rather than standing out.
  • Ceilings with any shiplap/paneling on them ‘usually’ look best in white/same as the trim.

Sherwin WilLiams White Duck in open layout living room and dining room. White tongue and groove painted ceiling with beams. Kylie M Interiors Edesign

Sherwin Williams White Duck & Benjamin Moore White Dove

If you have an angled or sloped ceiling, check this out: How to Paint a Sloped or Angled Ceiling



Just because a color already exists doesn’t mean it’s the best choice. Whether we move into a home with existing colors or accidentally chose the wrong trim color during our last painting project, make sure the white you HAVE is the right one!



Cream trim is tough (same with cabinets) as it limits your wall color options. And changing your ceiling won’t help. Chances are you’ll want to repeat this same color on your ceiling, or if you know what color it is, ask your paint store to make a sample pot 50% lighter and see how it looks.

While you can TRY using warm whites, like Benjamin Moore Simply White or Sherwin Williams Alabaster, they might not be the right blend for your particular shade of cream.

Remember, if you go TOO white and bright on your ceiling, your trim will look even worse/creamier.

Or, consider creating a new, solid foundation by painting your trim a new, more flexible color. 



Some whites are too warm or cold for the space they’re in, and adding MORE of them on the ceiling won’t help. In this case, you can sometimes transition.

  • If you have cool white trim, try a true white on your ceiling like Sherwin Williams High Reflective White.
  • If you have warm white trim, try a brighter warm white like Benjamin Moore Simply White or Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace. Or, if you know the name of your trim color, ask the paint store to make a whiter version of it.

I can’t say the above colors WILL work. If your trim color REALLY IS the wrong colour for your space, you might need to make a bigger change (paint your trim) rather than trying to put a Band-Aid on it.

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



  • Using the same white for ALL white surfaces (walls, cabinets, trims, ceilings) is consistent, flows better, and makes it easy to remember when painting walls or doing touch-ups.
  • Remember, your ceiling is likely to pick up reflections from other colors, so even a white ceiling can look subtly different in every room!



Some colors naturally have a lighter version of themselves and are often found on the same color strip in the fan deck. However, MANY colors are creatures unto themselves, and you need to play with them to get a coordinating ceiling color.

While this doesn’t work in every room, tweaking (not twerking) your wall color can make for a pretty, subtle palette.

How do you tweak a paint color?

You ask the paint store to lighten your wall color for you…

  • 25% is not enough; you won’t see the difference.
  • Even 50% is touch and go – depending on how much light your ceiling gets.
  • 75% lighter is usually the best place to start; undertones can shift quite a bit at this point, so sample carefully.

If you’re lucky, your paint color made 75% lighter will hit the spot! However, as mentioned above, it doesn’t always work…

  • Textured ceilings often suit white as color can draw your eye to them. If you’re using a neutral, and it’s LIGHT, you have a better chance of it working.
  • The darker your room is, the less difference you’ll see.
  • Depending on the color you’re playing with, it can look more like a subtle play on shadows rather than a real change in color (which isn’t always a bad thing!)

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



  • Often suit small rooms or rooms with a low ceiling.
  • Create a low-contrast look, which can make a space look bigger/ceiling look higher.
  • There’s less visual interruption and contrast, making a space look more calming and simple.
  • It works great for colors that don’t suit traditional shades of white (many beiges).
  • It often works well in rooms with wood trim and a warm palette, as a white ceiling can come off too harsh.

As shown in this next eating area, a white ceiling would be too stark for wall color and wood trim. Instead, we coordinated the wall color with a lighter shade of beige, with a similar undertone profile…

Sea Pearl laminate countertop, Sherwin Williams Malabar, lightened Natural Linen ceiling. Wood trim and cabinets. Kylie M Interiors edesign


  • If you like to change your wall color every so often, you’ll scream bloody murder when you realize you must also change the ceiling colour.
  • A home with many different wall colors/ceiling colors can get a bit busy with no ‘common thread’ tying the spaces together. In many homes, the trims/ceilings are the most important visual link.
  • It’s not foolproof as the lighter version of a wall color is often not as lovely as the original, and the undertones CAN shift. Be sure to get samples and check them out.

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

What Color Should You Paint Your HIGH CEILING?


Never assume a lightened version will work – always have your paint company mix a sample pot. 


If your wall color has a lot of red or orange, the lighter version may be relatively ‘pink or peach.’  Or maybe that fresh green you love on your walls turns into a mint green on your ceiling. SAMPLE, SAMPLE, SAMPLE (Hey, if I got Tim tested, surely you can get your paint color tested).



This is a tricky one that can BLOW UP in your face if you don’t have the right space! But what makes a space RIGHT?

  • Your ceilings need to be flat – no textured ceilings.
  • It often works better in homes with wood trim than white trim. In some spaces, without a white ceiling to connect with, white trim looks awkward and out of place.
  • If your wall meets your ceiling but isn’t straight (it has a bit of a wobble to it).
  • Small rooms with a small ceiling or a ceiling with a mix of flat and sloped areas often look better in the same color – but it usually needs to be a LIGHT color.

In particular, small rooms painted a dark color usually look BEST with a matching ceiling (below)…

Wine room with wood floor, barrel, built in red cherry wood stained wine racks, crystal chandelier, Benjamin Moore Charcoal Slate, blue gray paint color on walls and ceiling. Kylie M Edes

The 10 Best DARK Paint Colors 

You might be wondering why.

White ceilings with darker walls create contrast and draw your eye to the contrasting features. So, when you have a white ceiling with dark walls, your eye registers the divide where the wall and ceiling meet. By painting the ceiling the same as the wall, you blur the line between the two, creating a more seamless, moody, dramatic space. Imagine the above space with a white ceiling – woooooof.

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

Vaulted & Angled Ceilings: What Color Should They Be?



  • Contrary to popular belief, dark colors can recede corners and make a space look larger (open to perception). A white ceiling with dark walls is a ‘high contrast’ look, which can make a space look smaller.
  • You’ll have less tedious cutting-in to do (hurray!). This helps if you’re doing you’re own painting and saves money if you’re hiring out!
  • Ceilings are usually flat sheen, and you might not want this finish on your walls. Don’t be afraid to change the sheen level from your walls to your ceiling.



While it’s not for the faint of heart, not every room was cut out for white ceiling paint. Some rooms BEG for a more drastic, dramatic approach.

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



  • Rooms with high ceilings
  • Tray ceilings (if it has multiple layers, usually on the TOP layer is the dark color)
  • Dining rooms often suit a moody ceiling color.
  • Flat ceilings – not textured ones.
  • Home theatres and media rooms
  • Rooms where you want a more intimate vibe.
  • A beautiful accent to a room with crown molding.

Benjamin Moore Collingwood, best warm gray paint colour, Silver Gray ceiling, Sherwin Dover White trim, contemporary living room. Kylie M INteriors Edesign, online paint color consultant

When I say ‘darker color’ you can take me literally or not. Dark can be a few tones darker than the wall color, as shown above, or something striking and high contrast.



Some ceilings have dropped areas or awkward spots built to accommodate venting or plumbing. Check out this guest bedroom…

Benjamin Moore Gossamer Veil in guest bedroom, white metal headboard, blue gray accents, White Dove shiplap accent wall. Kylie M Interiors Edesign

Sherwin Williams Gossamer Veil & Benjamin Moore White Dove

The question is…

Which surface do you want this awkward zone to BELONG to – your walls or your ceiling? 

Painting the drop-down the same color as the ceiling (in the above room) makes sense. If this dropped area were the same as the walls, it would look lower than it already is. HOWEVER, if the walls are painted a considerably light shade, the walls and ceiling could be all the same color for a more seamless look, which can help blend an awkward ceiling.

For ideas SPECIFIC to your ceiling type, check out the links below… 


The Best Paint Colors for Ceilings: White, Medium, & Dark (PART 2)

How to Deal With an Angled Ceiling (PART 3)

TRAY CEILINGS: What Color Should They Be? (PART 4)

What Color Should You Paint Your HIGH Ceiling (PART 5)

The Best Paint Finish for Ceilings, Trims, and Cabinets

How to Create a Timeless Home: 4-PART SERIES

The Ultimate Guide to White Paint Colors

The Best Dark Gray Paint Colors



Kylie M Interiors, online paint color expert, consulding, edesign, Best Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams. Market (1)

Chat soon,

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





  1. 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. ?

  2. 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!

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      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 🙂


  3. 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 🙂

  4. 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.

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

  5. Kylie,
    We love your work. We have wainscoting and crown molding in our dressed-up ranch. Planning on using a BM warm white such as White Chocolate on those areas. That is just for reference…

    The real issue is the wall and ceiling color. We just realized that painting the ceiling a flat white (same color as the trim) is a missed opportunity. If we do that again, the top like of the crown mounding gets lost and the ceiling lacks cohesion with the walls. Thus, seeking advice…

    Option 1: Walls in Manchester Tan, and a lighter color on the ceiling. Color suggestion?
    Option 2: Walls in Everlasting, and a lighter color on the ceiling. Color suggestion?
    Option 3 : Move to a lighter color like Malton, and do the walls and ceilings in the same color.

    Any advice please? Thank you.

  6. I am trying to pick out wall colors for my new house and there are some fixed elements that have made the process difficult and thus overwhelming for me. I have looked at hundreds of photos of beige and greige wall colors. And I have read through just about every webpage you have teaching about wall and trim colors. It has been immensely helpful! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the bedroom wall color that is in section # 1. Could you please tell me what that is? Thank you!

    1. Post

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