How Ceilings are Stealing the Show

The "5th Wall" is the New Showstopper

When painting a room, it’s easy to get caught up in the basics:  trim and paint color. But oftentimes, people overlook one of the most important walls of the room, the ceiling. Often referred to as the "5th wall", it's a large, visible area that, if given some color love, can transform a room. 

Path (C2-680) high Gloss ceiling by Julie Rootes Interiors for the 2019 SF Showhouse

Often less expensive than wall paint, ceiling paint is manufactured to dry faster and splash less, cover imperfections and is usually pretty easy to work with. Ceiling paints are created to be extra flat; this scatters the light and blurs imperfections on those large surfaces. That’s why you don’t use ceiling paint on walls - the trade-off for that extra flat finish means it’s less washable.

Giving thoughtful attention to the ceiling can take a room from good to great. And changes the personality of the space enormously. 

Imagine if Michelangelo Sistine Chapel (photo) didn’t utilize this space…or used just plain white!


Make sure to pay special attention to the light and how it reflects upwards on ceilings. The green from your landscaping can influence how the color reads, just as a cooler blue tone can be the case if you live near a body of water.  

6 Ideas for Spectacular Ceiling Statements:

1. White: Usually, the most obvious ceiling choice is white. It’s safe and is effective at making ceilings brighter, especially when the walls are lighter, giving it a traditional, clean feel. Typically, you match the ceiling to the same white shade as the trim. This is a great option for a bright, open kitchen.

2. Go Monochromatic: Another option is to paint the ceiling the same color as the walls, providing a monochromatic feel. We call this a wrap. It's soothing to the eye and adds an element of depth and drama, often making the ceilings appear higher. This affect will “erase” the boundary between the walls and ceiling. And this method really helps if the wall/ceiling line is uneven so not to draw attention to unlevel break lines.

Monochramatic ceiling via

3. Use a percentage: Get creative and go a shade darker or lighter to add depth, dimension and interest. Darker ceilings will allow a room to feel a little lower and more intimate (best for higher ceilings), while a shade lighter than the wall color provides a lifting effect. 

4. Add a pop of color: Go crazy on the ceiling! Paint it a totally different color (or colors) to add interest and design detail. Make a statement. It’s your home after all so it should reflect you and your creativity! Color is great for kid spaces and can add an element of fun and whimsy without overwhelming the whole room.

Designer Tobi Fairley got creative in her daughter's room with stripes of Americas Cup (C2-612) and Raindrop (_Stripes_Americas Cup and Raindrop (C2-720)

5. Shine on: Adding a gloss to the ceiling makes a major design statement. Add shine in the entry, dining room or powder room.

Gloss Ceiling in Cousteau (C2-713)

Prep work in glossy paint is more. Ceilings tend to have less prep because you don’t notice the flaws, but you do when it is glossy.

— Miles Redd

6. Don't forget the porch! Vintage-styled homes with pale blue porch ceilings add that classic design detail that gives the porch personality. In the south, specifically south Caroline, Savannah and even some Northern states, many people painted their ceilings a soft green-blue called Haint Blue to ward off evil spirits called “haints”. Whatever the reason, the end result is soothing and beautiful!




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