THE EVER-NEGLECTED fifth wall. After putting so much effort into designing and decorating a space, it’s easy to throw in the towel, slap up some white ceiling paint and call it a day. But don’t give up after rolling on the last coat on the four main walls! A colored, patterned or textured ceiling can be just what you need to tie your whole space together.
While the possibilities for a ceiling treatment are endless (wallpaper, wood paneling, a fun stencil, textured plaster!), to keep it simple for those of you who typically ignore the fifth wall, today I’m going to explore a few different options for an easy painted ceiling.
GO BOLD. If you have a neutral color on your walls, don’t be afraid to add a punch of color on the ceiling. This will add interest to your space, without the overwhelming effect that the punchy color would have if it was boxing you in on the four main walls. Take a look at these inspirational photos for some ideas:
In each of these spaces, the homeowner added some playfulness by coating the ceiling with a bold hue complementing other elements of the space. Try this technique if you’re afraid to paint an entire room a particular color or if you think the color is too dark for the four main walls.
TONE-ON-TONE. If you paint your walls a saturated color, a stark white ceiling can be jarring and will draw attention to itself rather than your lovely wall color selection. This is especially true if your ceiling is less than eight feet high. Instead of keeping your ceiling white, try painting it one shade lighter than your wall. To achieve this, simply mix 1 part of your wall paint with 1 part white ceiling paint. Keep adding white paint until you get your desired color. And, remember, paint dries darker, so be sure to test out your custom mix on the ceiling before painting the entire thing! Here are a few spaces with tone-on-tone ceilings:
If your ceiling is taller than eight feet, try going a shade darker on the ceiling to cozy up the space!
COMPLEMENTARY CONTRAST. My favorite way to give the ceiling a whimsical vibe is to paint it a totally different color that stands on its own. When using this method, be sure to select a color for the ceiling that will complement your wall color as well as the other design elements in your space. That way your ceiling wont stand out in a bad way. Here are a few inspirational spaces with lovely contrasting ceiling colors:
On to my guest bedroom ceiling, since that’s what this post is really about today. I’ve been working on updating my guest bedroom. Check out this post and this post to see my progress so far. This is what it looks like now:
I decided that I wanted to put up crown molding since most of the other rooms in our house have it, thus my lazy painting method displayed below. Look, there’s no reason to cut in around the edges if you’re installing molding. Your time is precious, don’t waste it.
Before the crown molding is installed, I wanted to put a fresh coat of paint on the ceiling as well. Rather than go with stark white, which is already there, I decided I wanted to paint the ceiling a contrasting color. I wasn’t sure which direction I wanted to go in, so I slapped a few paint samples from my basement paint shelf up on the ceiling. Hmmmmmm.
I guess you could say I was all over the place on this project. You can see my thought process as you move from left to right down the line. We had a ton of yellow/cream paint samples left over from a project we did at our first place. I started with those, and wasn’t feeling any of them. Then I thought maybe it would be cool to do the ceiling in a crazy turquoise or teal to make it really interesting. Again, I put up some more sample colors. Matt vetoed those colors immediately (from work, via text). My third option was to go tone-on-tone and paint the ceiling a shade down from the wall color. I tried out two variations of the color, but liked neither of those options. Finally, I returned to my yellow/cream paints. This time, I chose my favorite tone of yellow from the first group and mixed in a little white to achieve a butter cream-like tone.
Matt and I finally agreed we liked the color second from the right the best. This is Chopstick by Martha Stewart mixed with a lot of white ceiling paint. I ended up liking the toned down version of Chopstick much better when paired with the Tranquil Bay walls. With the green light from the hubby, I mixed up a big batch of paint using my left over sample and my left over white ceiling paint. I decided that since I only needed to do one wall, it made sense to just mix up what I had at home rather than go out and buy a new quart of paint. BAD. IDEA.
I ran out of paint. So, I went out to Home Depot to get another Chopstick sample and happily mixed up some more paint. I figured that, although doing this project for FREE would have been awesome, at the end of the day spending $2.99 wasn’t so bad. BAD. IDEA. #2.
I ran out of paint, again. So, I went back to Home Depot, again. (Are you now understanding why I don’t update this blog very frequently!?!?) This time sure that for another $2.99 I’d be able to finish the project. I mixed up some more paint and happily finished the ceiling. About $6.00 and who knows how many hours of driving, mixing and painting later, I stood back to admire my frugality and ingenuity.
I HATED it. The color didn’t look uniform because my custom-mix jobs were less than perfect. I suppose that was a result of having to mix three separate batches of paint. The sheen didn’t even look right. Some patches were shiny and others were matte. There were even some spots that weren’t totally covered with paint. FAIL.
Dirty paint tray in hand, I swallowed my pride and headed back to Home Depot one more time looking for a color to match the mess I’d made.
Lucky for me, I stumbled upon the perfect soft yellow that looked almost exactly like what I’d mixed up at home. Go figure. Instead of buying a quart of paint, I went ahead and bought an entire gallon. After all that wasted time, I wasn’t willing to run out of paint again. The color is Soft Cream by Olympic. It’s soft and creamy, so it’s not just a clever name. I love it.
Soft Cream looks especially lovely when paired with the Tranquil Bay walls. I have artwork with some bright shades of yellow that I’m eventually going to put in this space, so I thought this light shade would be great to pick up on those tones once I put the room back together.
Needless to say, the gallon was more than enough to paint the entire ceiling in this 10×12 space. Although the lighting isn’t great in this photo, you can see that the Soft Cream matched almost exactly to the color (second from the right) that Matt and I originally chose for the ceiling.
Although it took me a bit more time (and $$) than I would have liked, I’m happy with the final result! I’ll admit that with this lighting it’s hard to even tell that the paint is yellow. Once the crown is installed, you’ll certainly see the soft contrasting ceiling against the glossy white molding. I’d show you a shot of the entire room, but it’s torn all apart because of my ceiling-painting adventure. After spending all that time up on a ladder, I didn’t have any energy left to move the furniture back into place.
I have to say that, all my paint-mixing stupidity aside, this was by far the easiest ceiling paint job ever! Since we’re having the crown installed, I didn’t have to worry about clean edges, which is music to any homeowner-on-a-DIY-quest’s ears. I simply ran my brush along the corners so I didn’t get paint on the walls with the roller and then rolled a coat of paint right up to my painted lines. Once I had enough paint in hand, I literally finished this project in less than 30 minutes. Sometimes being cheap bites you in the ass! Lesson learned by me, and passed on to you free of charge.
Next stop, crown molding!!
What does everyone think? Do you paint your ceilings – or will you now that you can see the impact it can make in a space?