Thinking about making some décor changes as the weather begins to shift? One surefire way to update a space in an unexpected and dramatic fashion is daring to paint the fifth wall—the ceiling, that is. Whether you’re going for subtle or bold, a colored ceiling will make any room feel refreshed and refined. While it may sound like an impractical project, it’s not as intimidating as it seems.
“People tend to think of ceiling painting as a daunting task, but with the right materials and spirit, it can be an easy DIY project,” Erika Woelfel, vice president of color and creative services at Behr tells MyDomaine. All you need is a stepladder and a roller with an extension pole to get started. “There’s really no color to avoid,” says Woelfel, just as long as you’ve thought through how it will couple with your current décor. Ready to add a pop of color to your interiors? Take a look at these beautiful rooms with colored ceilings to inspire your next project.
Erica George Dines DESIGN: Melanie Turner Interiors
“A pop of color on the ceiling can add surprising depth to the right space, adding an element of unexpected visual interest,” says Woelfel. Here, a pale blue ceiling plays off the muted mauve couch to create a serene color palette for the entire room. Along with the large leaning mirror, this colored ceiling creates an optical illusion of a larger, brighter, and more open space. The decorative pillow complements the colored ceiling, allowing all these design elements to flow together. Try adding a faint complementary color to the fifth wall of a smaller space in your home to visually expand the room.
Use the 60-30-10 Rule
Woelfel swears by the 60-30-10 rule. “60% of a room should be decorated in the dominant color, likely what’s on the walls, followed by 30% in a secondary hue for elements like furniture or a painted ceiling, and 10% can be other décor used to complement and contrast with the other hues,” she explains. This dramatic black dining room follows Woelfel’s rule, as the majority of the space is commanded by the black paint that makes its way from the white molding to the ceiling and is accented by dark chairs. Whites, reds, and browns make up the rest of the color proportions of the space. Replicate this look with a dramatic black paint.
Create a Mood
This fresh living room feels airy, thanks to an abundance of potted plants, bright colors and patterns, and a cool blue ceiling to match the walls. “Be mindful about the mood you want to create in each room and make ceiling paint decisions based on how you want it to feel,” Woelfel says. The colored ceiling here melds seamlessly with its surrounding décor, making the space feel like a relaxing bohemian destination. Determine what mood you want to evoke in a space in your home that needs a refresh, and use a colored ceiling to establish the atmosphere you’ve imagined.
Don't Be Afraid to Contrast
A soft blue, gray ceiling contrasts against the bright white walls of this dining room, creating a sense of depth and expansion in the contained space. “A touch of color on the ceiling can help create height in small spaces—and if you don’t love the finished look, it’s easy to repaint.” Don’t be afraid of a little contrast. Here, the blue ceiling almost replicates the sky, making this enclosed space feel more like an alfresco dining area.
This dining room looks fit for royalty with a rich rose-gold hue that elongates the ceiling and elevates the well-lit space. While there is already a variety of decorative elements in the room, the colored ceiling doesn’t feel overdone next to ornate wallpaper, luxe seating, and a contemporary chandelier. Replicate this look with a deep, bronzed pink paint.
“There’s really no room where a painted ceiling wouldn’t work, but if you’re feeling uncertain about using color on the ‘fifth wall,’ start in a small space,” Woelfel suggests. This small nook feels ever expanding due to the dark ceiling that starts just above the crown molding of the walls. You can also always lighten the space with bright accessories like this white table or crown molding.
Play with Lighting
Woelfel recommends trying out different color pairings to really understand how light will affect the space. The natural light from the large window in this bedroom coupled with the powerful colored ceiling makes the room seem effortlessly bright. “I recommend trying a few pairings out and painting large swaths so you can get a sense of how the lighting will affect the color throughout the course of a day.” Test out a soft pink hue in a well-lit room to see if this look works in your home.
This colorful living room melds so many different elements that you almost don’t notice the pure black ceiling, which manages to simultaneously stop the white walls in their tracks while expanding the fifth wall to an almost infinite height. According to Woelfel, picking a color all depends on the look you are trying to achieve. This black ceiling adds to the edgy décor of this eclectic living room. It’s just one of the many unexpected elements that work to pull the unique space together. Going for a distinct look? Try a defining black paint on the ceiling to pull together disparate pieces.
Dare to be dramatic and get in on the colored ceiling trend. Pick a hue and start painting right away.
This post was originally published on September 6, 2017, and has since been updated.