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.
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,
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
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 . . . . .
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.
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.
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
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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