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Don’t Forget the Fifth Wall: Your Ceiling

Don't Let the Ceiling Come Crashing Down (for Being Boring)

by Susan Brunstrum – July 25, 2013

Some people call it a ceiling, I call it the “fifth wall” in a room, and I always take it into account when choosing paint colors.

For decades, “ceiling white” was the go-to hue for that often-ignored expanse above our heads and for good reason: white is safe and clean looking and sometimes it’s the right choice, but not always.

Using color on ceilings can give a room a professional, finished look and it can change the entire mood from basic and boring to cozy or dramatic.

Don’t worry that the ceiling is going to come crashing down – visually – if you put color on it. Sometimes the opposite happens. Really! At Sweet Peas, we have splashed a little color on ceilings in bathrooms and bedrooms, dining rooms and offices, almost everywhere.

There are few, if any, rules about painting a ceiling, but here are some general guidelines I follow:

You don’t have to paint every ceiling a color just because you paint one. I only paint ceilings in self-contained rooms where that fifth wall doesn’t flow into another space. Foyers almost never work.

Photo Courtesy of Sweet Peas Design

Photo Courtesy of Sweet Peas Design

It is best to have crown molding or some kind of trim along the ceiling if you are painting it a color. The molding creates a buffer and helps define the wall and ceiling colors. Typically I paint the molding the same as the trim color for the whole room, but occasionally I will choose a new color for the crown molding.

Photo Courtesy of Sweet Peas Design

Photo Courtesy of Sweet Peas Design

Ceiling color can be a lighter or darker shade of the wall color, or it can be totally different. I have done taupe walls with a pale blue-green ceiling. It all depends on the room.

Photo Courtesy of Sweet Peas Design

Photo Courtesy of Sweet Peas Design

Powder rooms are perfect for the most dramatic ceiling colors. They are private little retreats that are rooms unto themselves. Why not make them unique and special? Here is a great opportunity to use an accent color from the rest of the house. If you’ve popped some red or orange somewhere else in the house, that’s what you want in in the powder room. Be Cheeky!

Photo Courtesy of Sweet Peas Design

Photo Courtesy of Sweet Peas Design

Coffered ceilings are ideal for color, too. They are a stunning architectural feature and I like to make the most of them. One of my favorite tricks is to paint between the coffers for more definition.

Photo Courtesy of Sweet Peas Design

Photo Courtesy of Sweet Peas Design

Sometimes I have to use all my powers of persuasion to convince clients to use color on a ceiling.

The result? At the end of the project, they always tell me they love it.

About the Author: Susan Brunstrum

Susan Brunstrum, founder of Sweet Peas Design, Inc., Libertyville, is proud to be Cheeky’s new interior design maven. She believes that “Cheeky” design means living the lifestyle of your dreams. She has been featured on LXTV, CLTV and many other ‘zines and blogs. Visit her at www.sweetpeas-inspired.com.