This is an old post but I got asked this a few times recently so thought I would repost for today.
The short answer? It always depends. Some decorators use the 8 foot rule: If your ceiling is less than 8 ft high, then paint it 2 tints lighter than the wall color. (Tint just means the color has more white in it and is therefore lighter. If it had more black in it, you’d say it was a shade darker).
If your ceiling height is more than 8 feet, paint it 2 shades darker than the walls.
Other decorators feel that painting a ceiling white always makes it feel lower than it is. I disagree with this. It’s true that when you break up the color – when the wall color is different from the ceiling color – your eye notices the change. But if the ceiling is lighter than the walls, and especially if it has a semi gloss finish to it, it actually looks more expansive and higher. But you may need to play with this a bit, because if your walls are really dark, then the change from dark (walls) to light (ceiling) is much more noticeable and therefore the ceiling appears closer.
Another trick to make that ceiling appear higher is to bring the ceiling color down the walls a bit: paint the same color on the ceiling a foot or so down onto the wall. This makes the ceiling appear taller than it is.
Painting a ceiling is definitely a personal choice. There really is no wrong answer. Just decide the effect you want and go from there. As I always say, if you don’t like it, you can always paint it over!
Most designers have a favorite paint line they like to use, and mine is Benjamin Moore. Out of their hundreds of white hues, here are some of my favorites:
Simply white OC-117. I love this color because it doesn’t break blue or green, meaning the undertone is a pretty pure white. I use it for millwork and for ceilings. It goes with everything.
White Dove OC-17: this one is also pretty neutral. You can pair it with just about any wall color.
Cloud white OC-130: This is a warm white, meaning it has a red undertone. So be careful when using it with green hues because it could start to read a little pink. But I love it with warm neutrals and dark colors.
Super white PM-1: When I’m looking for a really crisp, bright white, I’ll use super white on my millwork.
As always, paint a test swatch in your area before selecting!
I recently decorated a mid century style living room that had an open floor plan. One wall in the room was completely paneled, including a built in cabinet. Removing the wall paneling was the best thing I did to bring the entire space together. Once the drywall was up and painted, I moved the dining table from a small area off to the side to the more open space behind the sofa. I defined the area as a dining room by centering a fixture above the table and anchoring the table and chairs with an area rug. Having the walls all the same material and color made the room feel more cohesive and helped the stone fireplace stand out more. The paneled cabinet will be removed at a future date, so painting it the same color as the wall helped to deflect – rather than emphasize – the panels until they are finally gone for good.
I recently helped a client get her dining room ready for Christmas. When she called me we had just under four weeks to make the room feel more inviting and warm before 18 relatives descended upon her. She was a quick decision maker and excellent notetaker, so while I gave direction, she quickly executed. We started with a new wall color – a warm gray. There was a nice sized hole in one of the plaster walls and no way to get a painter in by Christmas. My client patched and painted by herself like a pro. Next we pulled new drapes in a bold pattern and a wool rug with soft lines to give the room more texture. A print on one wall was replaced with a striking mirror that added a lot of interest and helped bounce light around the room. Vases, lots of red and silver accents, holiday plants, and lights strung from the drapery rods added holiday charm and warmth. Good job CM!
Recently my husband painted the back steps. Exciting right? (Well the color* is! See below). But why I mention this is because the back steps sit in our wealth corner. Which means that our wealth corner is not actually in our house. It’s…missing. If you drew a line across the back of our house, it would run along the back wall, jog down about six feet where the back door sits, then jut over to the left about another five feet. Our finances have been a little missing of late too, so having everything else in order, I decided to tackle this issue. I hung a pair of wind chimes at the back door help to bring chi to the missing area. The tinkle sound is nice too and bonus – it helps to drown out the never ending hum of our neighbor’s AC. I also hung a clear crystal in the same area – I could have used a purple one, purple being the color associated with wealth – because crystals help liven up chi. And lastly I fixed that missing corner by literally drawing it in: I took some of my daughter’s purple chalk and drew a line across the steps and back to the house. Voila! Purple chalk! Good chi!
Wait! Rain! Ga! No more chalk. Well, I wasn’t that unhappy about the rain. We needed it.
Instead of redrawing chalk lines we painted the back steps. Purple. A lovely deep blue purple. And guess what? The next day the phone rang. It was a new client.
Normally feng shui isn’t this immediate, and it’s certainly not going to fix money issues especially if there are other major factors involved. But if you feel the energy is missing in that area, help it out with a little feng shui. And see what happens.
* Benjamin Moore Galaxy.
Last week I attended a seminar on Benjamin Moore’s 2011 color schemes. These are not new colors; rather they are 18 existing colors that Benjamin Moore has arranged in three palettes of six to help you convey a certain mood in your home. The three moods are Dreamy- which has sophisticated, subtle hues; Spirited-a bold palette with high contrast colors; and Soulful-a selection of warm hues and rich tones. Pick two to three colors from each palette to create the color experience you want to create. The combinations are flawless: each color works perfectly with the others in its palette, so you don’t have to worry about picking monochromatic grays to match or using the right value of purple.
Which leads me to the 2011 Benjamin Moore color of the year: Vintage Wine. This is a sexy color. At times it looks like eggplant when paired with the chartreuse green in the same collection, but put it against some of the more subtle earthy hues and its brown tones really show up. Take a look at the Soulful palette below:
Genesis White 2134-70
Kendall Charcoal HC-166
Gray Mirage 2142-50
Royal Flush 2076-20
Paper Mache AF-25
Wrought Iron 2124-10
Grape Green 2027-40
Vintage Wine 2116-20
Casco Bay 2051-30
Amulet AF 365
I just did my first post on my other design blog on the color yellow today. Yay! It was in reference to how yellow helps one concentrate on tasks, so it’s a good color to have at your desk when you need to work.
Conversely, ElleDecor had a great article today on the color green. Green relaxes the mind and calms the spirit. It’s a great color for bedrooms and bathrooms, anywhere you want to just kick back and unwind. A bold green, like a kelly green, can renew the spirit; a pastel green will have a more soothing effect.
From a feng shui perspective, it’s good to use green in your health area. It will enhance the chi for good health, whether it be healthy relationships, healthy souls, or healthy bodies. The green can come from paint color, furniture, pictures, or other accessories. You can further stimulate the health chi by bringing in natural (green) plants and wood.
So yellow gets the creative juices flowing, and green calms you down. Got it? Good!
A quick (but very useful) tip when painting, and when you hire painters and want to make sure the right color gets on the right wall:
Write both the name of the color AND the room that the paint is going in on the paint lid. Example: Airway 828 – Master Bedroom.
Why should you do this? Have you ever tried to read the name of the paint in the teeny tiny lettering on the label on the side of the can? Now try it with paint dripped all over it….
Having the name of the color right on the lid comes in extremely handy when you are painting with similar hues. It also keeps you from tipping an open can on its side while you try to read the label (You’ve done that. We’ve all done that.)
If you are using painters, it’s an (almost) foolproof way to make sure the painters use the right can for the right room. If you are using more than one paint color in a room – say different hues above and below a chair rail – specify that on the can: “Litchfield Gray – dining room – below chair rail”.
It may seem like an extra step, but you just spent all that time picking the right color (or hiring your fabulous decorator to choose a color for you) so why not make sure it ends up in the right place?
I’ve been doing a lot of rug shopping lately. Besides the fabulous custom choices I have encountered at the Merchandise Mart, I have come across some wonderful mid range retail price options. My number one favorite? The Asimi rug by Crate and Barrel:
This is a wonderful, 100% wool rug with an oriental flair of flowers and vines woven in a warm pattern of chocolate brown, sage green, gold, red and steel blue hues, making it extremely versatile. It would be perfect in a living room or dining room, either a contemporary or traditional setting.
If you require two rugs in a room or in rooms that flow together, pair it with the Library rug from Room and Board:
This is a durable rug, made in 100% New Zealand wool, making it great for a family or living room. What ties these rugs together? They are unified in hue and intensity even though their patterns are disparate.