Interior paint opinions -- walls vs. ceilings

I want to paint most of my interior walls bright white but I'm not sure what to do about the ceilings. My ceilings have the identical texture as the walls so the only way to create some contrast is by varying the color.
Should I use a darker white on the ceilings and a bright white on the walls or would I be better off using the bright white on the ceilings and a slightly darker white on the walls? Yes, this question may strike some as ridiculous but it's driving me crazy.
-crabshell
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Go with darker on the walls.
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Darker on the walls, however a white ceiling isn't always the best idea - you may want to consider a complimentry color (several shades lighter) for the ceiling. It really depends on your room, the lighting, etc.
One thing I do when painting walls/ceilings that always gets positive comments is I cut the wall color in about 1/4" below the actual ceiling line. The reason this is done is that the actual line is RARELY straight and if you have a lot of color difference between the walls and the ceiling you don't want a jagged line (it will show.) I cut it in slowly by hand and the results are spectacular and really worth the effort.
Another tip; if you're changing color on any vertical line, use blue painter's tape to make the transition, but before you paint your new color, paint a light coat of the "other" color over the tape first. This will prevent bleed-under and give you a distinctly sharp line between the two colors. If you don't have any of the "other" paint handy, some have used hairspray to seal up the tape line.
I used to paint professionally and I painted several "stream of dreams" type houses in Seattle (these are high-end homes put on display to the public to show the BEST in building/decorating.) I am sort of a perfectionist, but I find the extra effort to be well worth it, after all you have to live there and look at it every day!
Jeff
crabshell wrote:

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I appreciate the advice. You sound like you now what you're talking about so I'll elaborate on my situation.
My ceilings are low (8') and the natural sunlight I get is mostly northern reflected light. The floors are white oak without any stain, just the natural wood color + urethane.
I want the house to have a century modern vibe and to me that means white. However, as much as I love pure bright white, as the following poster points out, it can look like an operating room. I hate antique white because it looks like white gone bad -- sort of yellowing white. But a soft gray may look too dingy, so I'm perplexed.
I like your idea about the ceiling/wall line. It's a little spooky but I may give it a shot. I'd like to see a room like this for myself.

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OK I'm intrigued. You seem to know what you're talking about but I remain skeptical and would like more convincing :-) But I have done a little professional painting myself and your technique about painting a line with tape was correct, so you have some credibility with me.
When you say the ceiling line is rarely straight, do you mean the drywall guys didn't leave a perfectly square and straight angle to work with? That's usually true. But I'm having a hard time visualizing what you're talking about. But I want to learn new techniques. It seems that 1/4" extra space would look goofy. As you know, shadows and contrast change right at the angle between walls or wall and ceiling. That's why you can use a *slightly* off shade of paint on one wall, and no one will ever know if you paint the line accurately in a good line at the corner. The color always appears to change at the corner anyway. So won't it do the same thing on the ceiling corner if you paint white down 1/4" onto the wall? Please explain more, and thanks for bringing this up.
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The best thing I can tell you is to just try it. It looks GREAT... and everyone, I mean EVERYONE, that sees it loves it. What's most important is that you learn how to use a paintbrush properly (if you don't already know how.) Load it with paint only on the first inch or so (use a 2 1/2 or 3" brush) and tap off the excess (don't use the edge of the paint can or tray to scrape it off.) PUSH the paint up from the wall towards the ceiling until you get a nice straight start about 1/4" (or 3/16" if you prefer) from the ceiling. Then move the brush (SLOWLY) laterally pulling the paint in a straight line across the wall in line with the ceiling. I suppose you could use tape and make a line, but I just do it by hand - it comes out better. It's a nice touch that shows quality and has a custom look. You'll see!
Jeff
jeffc wrote:

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Yes, I know how to use a brush properly. So you find you're able to keep this line a consistent 1/4" (or whatever) from the ceiling? Sounds hard to do (I've only done it with a corner, whether the corner be at the juncture of 2 walls, wall and trim, wall and door frame, etc.) But I guess I'll give it a try.
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To most people, darker on the bottom, lighter on the top seems more natural and pleasing. This is true of contrasting as well as complimentary colors. Bright white walls will probably look like a sterile operating room, but if that is what you like . . . . .
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There is nothing wrong with using a darker color on the ceiling. If you get the right color, it's much nicer than simply using white. Just know that any color you use on the ceiling will reflect down onto bright white walls. A soft pastel wouldn't look too bad or reflect too much, depending on the sheen of your wall paint. I've seen blue, brown, and dark green ceilings work out just fine. Dark green with stained crown molding looks nice.
If you're crazy over this, just go to a paint store and buy whatever ceiling paint they offer. It is usually just a cheaper flat paint that's a tad grayer than bright white, and will look fine.
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Another idea: I live in an old house that has a fairly thick molding (3" thick, it's 9" from the ceiling). I painted my ceilings white. The walls I painted a light shade of whatever color the room was to be. The area between the molding and the ceiling I painted a dark shade of what I went on the wall. The molding I painted a white (along with the trim). It makes the ceiling looks like it's floating a bit and they seem higher. It's a nice effect.
crabshell wrote:

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Sounds nice.
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We went all semi gloss white and I love it!
With white walls and cieling the room is briter and appears larger, easier to paint too:)
The BIG thing to remember with a all white room the room takes on the color or tone of the furnishings
big blue sofa makes white appear soft blue. Its very servicable and can be wonderful.
all whites very common in florida.
I never want colored walls again, its really that nice and we painted about 10 years ago.
its really not a operating room look at all!
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Semi gloss? Ugh.
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I tried semi in a bathroonm and I ened up toning it down to a satin. Looked like an Exxon station.
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