What Color Should I Paint My Ceiling? Part II

May of 2012 I wrote a blog post called “What Color Should I Paint My Ceiling?”. The post talks about ceiling whites and why you shouldn’t use an extra or ultra white ceiling paint color because some whites are just so white they look blue, you know, like snow does on a winter day.

Well I realized the post never really answers the question of  what color to paint a ceiling but rather just mentions a brand of white ceiling paint to use. I left you hanging and I’m sorry! So it’s long overdue but here’s “What Color Should I Paint My Ceiling?”, Part II.


Well today and dozens of colorful ceilings later, I’m going to go into detail about your color options if you’re thinking about painting your ceiling.

Oddly enough, just last week I needed a slightly blue ceiling color so guess what color I chose? Ceiling Bright White by Sherwin Williams. I know that sounds utterly ridiculous but read the other post first then come back here and let’s get into the nitty-gritty about ceiling color.


Before I talk about ceiling color and the different types of ceilings, I want to tell you the most important piece of information you will need to know before you even get a paint chip in your hand.

Ready? Ok. Take the paint color chip that you are considering for a ceiling color and lift it way up over your head. Your paint chip should be color side down and you should be looking up at it. Are you doing it?

It all has to do with lighting. Lighting is an entirely different subject but hugely important just one which I will not discuss today but one you need to be aware of. The point is, you must hold your paint chip the way it’s going to be viewed on the wall. Painting your walls? Hold the paint chip vertically. Painting your ceiling? Hold your paint chip upside down just like it will be seen on your ceiling. Don’t ever hold your paint color chip flat unless you plan on painting your floor. That was so important I had to make it bold.


See how different these colors look? They are the same color chip but just held differently. If you took these hues and held them upside down, the middle tones would darken tremendously. Take the color chip of your choice and experiment.

That my friends is how you view the paint chips that you are considering for your ceiling color. Not sunny side up, not at arm’s length away but up over your head with the color side down, just like it would be viewed as it were on the ceiling.

Bet you didn’t think about that before right? Doesn’t the color look really different when viewed upside down? Sure it does! This is comparable to how you would look standing in the sunlight verses standing in the shade. It’s the way the light hits you or your paint chip, that will make all the difference in the world.

Whew! Now that you’ve learned the most important trick when it comes to viewing your color, NOW we can talk about color options for your ceiling like how to place it, where to place it and even if you should have color on your ceiling.

Why should I paint my ceiling a color instead of just leaving it white?

Well you can just leave your ceiling white but that really depends on the style of your home, your color palette and the height of your ceiling. Here are some instances when you can choose a color for your ceiling instead of just using white.

  • when you have a warm color palette and white would be just too stark. Ivory or a soft white would be perfect for a warm color palette such as this:
Designed by Donna Frasca

Designed by Donna Frasca

  • When you have a high ceiling. Using color on a high ceiling gives the illusion and feel of a lower ceiling.
  • When you have a coffered or tray ceiling. Decorative ceilings are perfect for color! It can be the focal point of the room.



Designed by Donna Frasca


  • When you want to add interest to your room.
  • When you have a very large, open concept home and could use color to define a space.



  • Add just a little color to your ceiling if you want it to coordinate with your drapery without distracting from it.


  • Small room? Monochromatic color works great here. Use a darker shade of your wall color to accent your ceiling while giving the room a larger appearance with the same hue.


  • Keep it fun for the kids! Use a dark blue or black color on the ceiling and add those glow in the dark stars. This would be super fun for any kids room.


So you see, there is really so much you can do with your ceiling color but the main thing to remember is turn your paint chip upside down before deciding on a color. As always, I highly recommend painting out a sample before you commit to any wall color just to be sure you love it.

Here are some recent ceiling colors by that I’ve used by Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore. You can see there is a variety here and ceiling color but it goes to show you that you don’t have to be afraid to put color on your ceiling, just think it out before you do.

Restful White SW7563

Westhighland White SW7566

Toasted Pine Nut SW7696

November Skies 2128-50 Benjamin Moore

October Mist 1495 Benjamin Moore


About Donna Frasca

I am an energy that has found a new vibration and frequency. Through many years of writing, learning, and experiencing, I've found comfort in trusting in myself and in Spirit.
This entry was posted in Benjamin Moore, Ceilings, Color, Color Tips, Interior Design, Paint Color, Sherwin Williams and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

49 Responses to What Color Should I Paint My Ceiling? Part II

  1. Ahh, the ceiling – the perfect accent wall! Nice post, Donna – thanks for sharing!

  2. Great explanation. I am a huge fan of color on ceilings. I totally get what you mean about pure whites looking blue. The snow was a great example.

  3. Pingback: Trends for the 5th Wall :: What Color Should I Paint My Ceiling

  4. Valentina says:

    Great lesson Donna. BTW, I moved my blog to my books site, you are welcome to come over for a visit. http://valentinaexpressions.com/category/home-designs-master/

  5. Jodi Horner says:

    You’ve got the gift, lady! 🙂

  6. Pingback: 5 Affordable Painting Ideas to Refresh Your Home | CraftPro

  7. I love those different hues of blue! Very effective. One of my hobbies is painting with oils…I find a well balanced, coordinated color scheme is similar to a well-framed painting. I love your blog…so glad you stopped by mine and decided to follow because it led me to yours!

  8. Pingback: Do we still need white ceilings? | Decorating by Donna • Charlotte's Color Specialist

  9. Jill Pearson says:

    Can you use the same exact paint as you used for your walls on the ceiling? I did my dining room and kitchen this green color, I have a 5 gallon bucket. Had to remove this ugly thing connecting 2 cupboards together, but has a strip of different color paint there, and my white is too white just to touch up there.

  10. I love your site!

    I wish you were closer to me and I’d hire you in a heart beat!

    Thank you for all the useful information.

  11. dodgeblake says:

    Hi Donna. I like your post. I have a question: darker ceilings in a small room doesn’t make the room feel even smaller? What if we put a lighter color?

    • Donna Frasca says:

      For smaller rooms such as the guest bath, I like to put the color all over the walls and ceiling. Will it make the room seem smaller? Perhaps but it’s a small room any way so you might as well make it a great color – plus it’s super cozy and don’t have to cut in.

      • dodgeblake says:

        Wow. Yes, I think it makes sense. I’m surprised by your idea. Thank you very much for sharing.

        • Donna Frasca says:

          I also did this in the small rooms in my home and it looks great. The more I see white ceilings the more I want to paint them.

          • dodgeblake says:

            I decided to do it in two small room here too. Can’t wait to see the results. I think I’m going to follow this idea in the outside of the house too, walls and than the outside ceiling that circles the roof. Do you think it makes sense, Donna? I see that in houses made of concrete all the time, so I thought: why not?

          • Donna Frasca says:

            When homes have odd ceiling angles, I usually take the wall color right up and over. If find white very annoying when color is so beautiful.

  12. dodgeblake says:

    Thank you! You inspired me. My home will finally look finished. I’m really tired of gray all over the ceiling for years. Although I know gray serves it’s purpose as a neutral color, I don’t like the references to destruction, uncertainty and neutrality this color makes.

    • Donna Frasca says:

      Although gray looks great in some homes combined with the right colors, to me, it’s still a depressing color – I lived in Pittsburgh for 15 years and it was just one big gray state! Glad I inspired you for color! Thank you.

  13. Cindy Glover says:

    Great article. I love light grey for ceiling. Last year I painted my bedroom in it. It was spectacular. Different people like different pages, though. Greetings!

    • Donna Frasca says:

      Thanks Cindy. I was just on the phone with a client talking about ceiling color and how white, would be my LAST color preference. I love the creams and their variations. No white.

  14. Lorna Butac says:

    I love this article , The color of my wall is mint green what would be the best color of my ceiling. Thank you.

    • Donna Frasca says:

      This is a popular article for sure Lorna. I love that you have mint green on your walls, I have it in my guest room and it looks great.

      I’m not a huge fan of using white – anywhere. However sometimes it’s needed in the home for trim and on the ceiling.

      If you have a lower ceiling than white would be a good idea BUT use a soft white, not a pure or ultra white. Watch your undertones.

      So in your case, it really depends on the mint you have, is it a bluer mint? Greener mint? My suggestion would be to choose several soft whites, hold them upside down as they would appear on the ceiling and choose from there.

  15. Tammy says:

    This was helpful to me but I am still have trouble with ceilings. I am building a new home. I want to add color to the inside of the tray ceilings to coordinate with my wall colors. I want the rest of the ceilings in the house to blend as well but not be white. We are painting all the trimwork white. I am using all neutral greys and khaki/beige colors in house. Do you have a suggestion for a ceiling color throughout the house other than the tray ceilings? My builder is using Sherwin WIlliams. Thanks.

    • Donna Frasca says:

      Tammy, that depends on where you live, your lighting, how high your ceilings are and the color palette and decor of your home. There’s so much more to choosing paint color than just picking. If you’d like, I can set you up for a Virtual Consult. Send me an email if you’re interested. I’d need to see pictures of your home.

  16. Jennifer says:

    Hi Donna,
    Your post is informative! I have a question.
    My whole house including ceilings are painted SW mega greige. I want to paint my dining room which have 9ft ceilings SW Tricorn Black. It has wainscoting around the room which is white and crown molding around the ceiling in white. Should I paint the ceiling black as well or paint it white to match the molding? I’ve seen it both ways and wasn’t sure which way to lean!

    • Donna Frasca says:

      To me, that sounds like a lot of black. Would that look match the rest of your home or will that be the Darth Vader room? This is one of the things that I ask for when I do my Virtual designs. I ask to see the surrounding rooms just to make sure all will coordinate.

  17. Ali says:

    As a rule – do you generally not want to paint the ceiling a true white? I am drawn to chantilly lace by bm, but no one seems to use that as a trim or ceiling color. I hear more about decorator white or white dove. Do you want the ceiling to be less of a true white? Next to chantilly, decorator white looks gray and white dove looks creamy. Thanks!

    • Donna Frasca says:

      Ali, that’s correct. I am not a fan of white anything in the house – it’s too stark and sterile looking. There are so many beautiful, soft white that complete a color palette. I’ve used Chantilly Lace when I needed a “white” to coordinate with a gray color palette OR when I needed a very light gray.

      I also use Ultra Bright White, or something similar, when I needed a light, light blue. When white is so white, it sometimes look blue, like snow 🙂

  18. When I paint Iuse to cut in frist and it would leave a lighter color than the rolled , I even would turn the roller side ways and get close to the ceiling. I now roll frist then cut in with a inch or inch and half brush, recommended by an Sherwin Willims employee and it works great. How do you quote rooms and hole houses? I’m getting into painting for living and any info would help. Thank You so much

    • Donna Frasca says:

      Scarlett, I don’t paint homes I design color palettes for them then a Paint Contractor or the Homeowner completes the job.

      I base my fees on the size of the home and the distance the home is to my home office, at least that is how I used to do it. Now, all of my clients (most of them) are Virtual so the pricing is less. It’s really a very affordable way to choose color for your home. Good luck with your new career!

  19. Sara Young says:

    Building a house and painting entire main floor SW grey matters. Since it’s more of a medium grey not sure what we should use for the ceiling color. Some people tell me ceiling bright white and others tell me just go with the white on the end of the same swatch which is NEBULOUS WHITE. What would you suggest? We had an open concept with volted ceilings.

    • Donna Frasca says:

      Get a sample of each, paint it out on a paint sample board then see how it looks in your home. Be sure to hold the paint sample UPSIDE DOWN as it would appear on the ceiling.

  20. Anonymous says:

    The problem with have a ceiling color other than a shade of white is that if you change wall color, you have to repaint ceilings. $$$

  21. Pingback: Look How Great Color On The Ceiling Looks | Decorating by Donna • Color Expert

  22. Janet says:

    Wall is yellow what color,is good for ceiling anything but white

    • Donna Frasca says:

      Well if your walls are a strong yellow that color will reflect up on your ceiling so you might need white for your home. It also depends on how high your ceiling is and what colors are in the rest of your home.

  23. Janet says:

    Ceilings are not high I do like color I am switching from peach to yellow

  24. Janet says:

    I do have rose and mint green

  25. John says:

    Hello Donna. I was wondering if you could offer some color advice for painting a brand new, orange peel (splatter-texture) walls and ceiling which is currently untrimmed (no molding yet). The room is isosceles trapezoid-shaped (22’x22’x22’x11′ w/9′ ceiling) and will be used as a bedroom for a while but eventually I would like it to be a theater room. There are two fairly wide entrances (@4′ wide) into the room which are evenly placed in the middle of each 22′ side wall-directly across from each other. Finally, there will be a lighted ceiling fan in the center of the room. I am very open to just about any scheme you can think of :). Thank you.

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