Published on August 8, 2019

You’ve painted your walls. You’ve tried high-contrast door frames. You’ve even given your kitchen cabinets a vibrant upgrade. But if you think you’ve exhausted all means of adding color to your space, look up. That bland, off-white ceiling? Yeah, it could probably use a facelift. 

While it sounds like an acrobatic feat in theory, involving ladders and people bending over backward to reach every nook and cranny, painting your ceiling is actually super-easy. To demystify the process, we tapped designer Nicole Gibbons (who also happens to be the founder of Clare Paint) for her top tips: 

  • Paint the ceiling first, then tackle the rest of your room. “Make sure it dries for 24 hours before painting your walls,” she says.
  • Choose a flat finish. “It helps to hide imperfections and reduces glare from artificial lights,” Gibbons explains.
  • Roll on the color in one direction and only one direction: “If you switch, you’re more likely to see streaks,” cautions the designer. 

Now that you have the technique down, it’s all about picking the right color for your space. Check out these six rooms to see painted ceilings done right.

The Beginner 

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Photo Courtesy Little Greene

Maybe you’re only ready to dip a toe into ceiling paint—that’s okay! Test it out in a smaller space, such as a bathroom, and keep your walls a simple white, like in this space from Little Greene.

The Cover-up 

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Photo Courtesy of These Four Walls

Use your ceiling paint as an opportunity to conceal unsightly light fixtures in your rental—or, if you can swing it, upgrade them entirely. As this Ferm Living–designed space shows, continuing the color over the ceiling medallion and cords makes it look that much more put-together. 

The Compromise

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Photo Courtesy of Eugene Bulatnikov | Design by Eugene Bulatnikov

Designer Eugene Bulatnikov had the right idea by continuing the emerald hue halfway down the walls. If you want a similarly high-contrast space, pair a bold tone like green or blue against a bright, modern finish—in this case, white subway tiles, but any crisp ceramic tile could work. 

The Trio

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Photo Courtesy of Little Greene

For maximum impact, go the color-blocked route: one shade for the molding, one for the walls, and one for the ceiling. Pick complementary hues—see how the ones in this Little Greene–designed living room are all dusty colors?—and keep the rest of your decor simple.

The Monochrome 

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Photo by Moon Rei Studio | Design and Product by Casa Botelho

We’re not afraid to commit when the situation in question is matching your walls to your ceilings, like in this Casa Botelho bedroom. Going with one color from top to bottom makes any room instantly more dramatic. The only question: Are you going to go tonal with your accent pieces, too, or pepper in contrasting hues? 

The Art Installation

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Photo by Echo and Earl | Design by @teamwoodnote x @citysage

For the truly confident: Consider a pattern. Designed by Team Woodnote, these simple squares are a great way to incorporate all your favorite hues at once. Just throw in a neutral to tie everything together. 

See more paint ideas:
4 Tricks to Making Classic Navy Feel Fresh Again
The Case for Painting Your Door…Yes, Just Your Door
If These 10 Color-Blocked Walls Don’t Convince You to Reach for the Brush, I Don’t Know What Will

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