The most unique ceiling paint colors to offset your white walls

For many years, white has been considered the only appropriate color for ceilings. Gone are those days! Today’s decorators have become much more adventurous with color, with plenty of ideas and interest in working with any and every shade other than white.  Let’s take a look at some ideas they’ve had for ceiling colors offsetting white walls.

Making the room seem lower or higher

Generally, if you’ve got white walls, painting the ceiling a darker color will usually make the ceiling seem lower. Painting the ceiling a lighter color, on the other hand, makes the ceiling appear higher or the room appear bigger. Since you can’t get much lighter than white, and pretty much everything else is darker than white, most other colors will make the room seem at least a little bit lower.

This needn’t discourage us from playing with color, however; after all, one person might see the room getting smaller while another one sees it getting cozier. Overall, it just means we should choose a room that already feels like it has a nice, high ceiling, so our darker ceiling color won’t make us feel like the room is closing in. Let’s dive deeper:

Get an idea of how the color works with the light in the room

Try some paint color swatches to see how the light in your room works with the color you’re choosing. Get a few colors to see which look best with different kinds of daylight, lamplight, candlelight. Are there large windows in the room to let bright cheery daylight in, or is it a more subtly lit room where certain colors would give off a quiet glow in the lamplight? The more light your room gets, the less “closed in” it will feel when you paint the ceiling a darker color.

The same type of thing happens if your paint has a sheen to it. Will the paint you select have a reflective finish? This can offset a minimizing darker ceiling color.

To highlight areas of impressive trim or hide flaws, try a nice subtle dark color

Are there areas of exposed ceiling or impressive trim you want to highlight in the room? Consider painting the ceiling behind these areas with a darker color, like a muted charcoal or navy, for a nice contrast. This will work to simultaneously give needed color to the ceiling as well as underscore the parts you want to draw attention to in the room.

Does the ceiling have noticeable flaws or areas of ugly pipes, etc. you would like to hide? Darker paint can help with those issues, too.

Match a boldly colored ceiling with some decor of the same color in the room

A bright pink ceiling in a little girl’s room could work nicely with a bright pink nightstand or a pink-patterned duvet, rug, or lampshade.

So what are the most unique colors you can offset those white walls with?

We sorted through a vast assortment of shades and chose these for your ceiling:

Tip: To minimize the feeling of “lowering” of the ceiling, minimize the contrast between the two colors. You’ll have white walls, so unless you want drastically “lowered” ceilings, don’t go for a black ceiling. Try a pale peach ceiling with white walls, for instance, and some matching peach patterned decor in the room to tie it together.

To create the illusion of a larger space, or minimize contrast, colors like these work well:

  • light coral
  • soft orange
  • soft grey
  • muted slate blue
  • baby blue
  • a subtle aqua
  • pale sage
  • blush pink
  • sea foam
  • light lavender
  • pale plum
  • creamy apricot
  • dewy moss
  • sand
  • metallic or shimmery colors

When lowering the ceiling is ideal for you, go for it with uniquely gorgeous colors like:

Rule of thumb with this strategy: the darker, the better. Go for the:

  • deep indigo
  • chocolate
  • burgundy
  • dark navy
  • deep forest or olive green
  • dark burnt orange
  • black cherry
  • black ceiling — if this works for you.

You may also want to enhance the contrast while not actually going very much (or any) darker by using colors like:

  • bright orange
  • bright yellow
  • lime
  • electric blue
  • rouge pink
  • vivacious red
  • dark maize or mustard
  • deep magenta or purple

Consider a glossy version of the paint and matching decor in the room for extra pop

With these, you may want to opt for a semi-gloss or glossy paint to make the ceiling fully pop. Tie in elements of decor in this room as well to pull the room together.

In some rooms, depending upon the texture of the ceiling, you could use a

  • natural wood color or stain
  • dark brown

over a timber-like surface.

Give patterned ceilings some thought

Patterned ceilings or anything similar, i.e. stripes will function similarly to dark colors in bringing down the ceiling a bit, but it works well in many rooms, like this.

Use a little technology to see how your ceiling would look in different colors

This handy tool lets you explore countless colors and request chips of paint to try out wherever you might decide to paint in your own house. Additionally, this Lowe’s Paint Visualizer lets you put in a photo of your room and apply the color where you would be placing it to see how it would look.

Overall, the most unique colors we found for your ceiling today based on the categories mentioned above, are:

  • lipstick red
  • soft sage
  • metallics of any kind
  • chocolate
  • black cherry
  • bright coral
  • dark maize
  • patterned
  • natural wood
  • black
  • berry brown
  • evening lilac
  • desert sunset orange
  • bold crimson

Not sure if you’d like these colors based on their descriptive titles? Try this digital color wall and Sherwin-Williams color selection tool. You can click on any color you like to get the name, price, and other details on it. For example, we chose a deep rose color called “Flower Pot”, and it showed us these details and several different rooms plus a whole house painted that color.

Armed with this information, you’re sure to find the best possible color for your ceiling. Best of luck on your adventures and happy paint shopping!

Editors' Recommendations