High ceilings are a desirable feature in a home, but preventing an unfinished drafty feeling in a room with height requires some decor chops. The right paint color will wrangle those runaway ceilings down to size. Use a deep hue as a solid block of color for weight. Play with pattern and faux images to attract and fool the eye. Forget default white -- a color that just seems to recede into the clouds. Keep your ceiling earthier and within reach with more adventurous color choices.
The 8-Foot Rule
When the ceiling is on the cusp of too-tall, apply the 8-foot rule to determine the best paint color choice. If it's under 8 feet, paint the ceiling one or two shades lighter than the walls. Sunny yellow walls get a creamy pale yellow ceiling; mushroom walls fade into a ceiling painted in unbleached linen or sand. For ceilings more than 8 feet overhead, choose paint two shades darker than your walls. Mint walls and an apple-green ceiling create a cheerful kitchen. Silver-gray living room walls with a dove or medium-gray ceiling balance the height with subtle color.
Paint a pattern on the ceiling for a sense of greater weight and proximity. The high ceiling is no longer "out there," miles overhead; it's an irresistible design feature integrated into the decor. Stencil an exuberant contrasting border of large botanical shapes in charcoal and ghostly gray against a cloud gray ceiling. Block off squares with slate paint and fill in the "coffered" spaces with misty barely gray overlaid with a stenciled mosaic design in a lighter slate. Top straw walls with a honey-yellow ceiling dotted with a repetitive pattern of small amber figures. Color-wash the ceiling in faded terra-cotta over light melon walls and "scribble" a ribbon-like tangle of burnt orange overhead. Pick up the scribbled color in drapes or a pattern in the rug. Hire an artist and paint yourself a full-spectrum Sistine Chapel above the dining room table.
All the prized antiques are on the floor, as is the inherited oriental carpet. The far-away ceiling is orphaned and uninteresting, off in the distance. Balance the space and reconnect the ceiling with the room by painting it with its own dramatic story. Mark off a rectangle with a wide border and paint the inside of the rectangle an intense color to match the floor or a vibrant shade in the carpet. Paint the border a lighter, contrasting color -- a neutral is a conservative choice. Dark hardwood floors are mirrored by a rich cocoa panel overhead, surrounded by creamy ivory to the edge of the ceiling. Your Oushak with its figured jade design reflects that same jade on the ceiling, bordered by pale ice-blue. The fake architectural feature looks like a recessed ceiling with a lower border area. A medallion and chandelier provide even more balance and accentuate the illusion.
Lower the Walls
Bring the tall ceiling down to size with rich, warm color that seems to envelop the space. Lower the ceiling even farther by painting a border around the upper wall in the same color paint. The strong color keeps the ceiling from feeling infinite, and the same paint on the wall confuses the sense of where ceiling and wall begin and end -- making the walls seem shorter. Warm pumpkin-orange is cozy on a high ceiling. Lime with a lot of yellow in it is cheerful in a playroom. Add a contrasting frame of crown molding on the walls around the entire room at the level where the ceiling color and wall color meet, to further integrate the upper wall with the ceiling.
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