My Ceilings Are Giving Me Nightmares During The Day



Dear Laurel,

I think I have read every post you’ve ever written about paint colors and I’m planning on buying your essential paint guide bundle.


But, in the meantime, my ceilings are making me crazy!


And you know how they always talk about “the 5th wall?”

Well, upstairs the rooms have dormers and pitches and it’s more like the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th walls, in some places!

Then, there’s the great room that has a vaulted ceiling with beams.

The other rooms are nine feet and the kitchen has a very pretty coffered ceiling.

What I’d like to know is how to choose the best colors for the ceilings and then what colors to paint the trim as well.

Alotta C. Ling


Hi Guys,

Alotta DOES have a lot of ceilings!

But the fact that she’s having nightmares because of them has inspired me to share what I hope will be some helpful advice.

Are you ready?








Oh stop looking at me like I just told you that Snow White is a serial killer!


via CNBC


I mean, do you walk around looking up like this all of the time?

Ohhhhh… look at my ceilings and please pass the butter.


No, of course not! You’re busy living your life, and I promise you that when you’re fretting over stuff like whether your kids will get into a good college, that you’ll rarely if ever look at your ceilings.

But there’s more.

The older I get, the more I adhere to the KISS method for as many things as possible. Anyone in IT knows that KISS stands for Keep it Simple [and] Stupid.

But it’s true. Simple is the word. Why make things more complicated than they need to be? Isn’t life difficult enough as it is without adding to it with things that aren’t all that important. Having great looking ceilings is not that big a deal, most of the time.


But Laurel STOP!!! Please just SHUT UP FOR A SECOND!


Yes, loves; what is it? I’m listening.


Well, it might be nothing for you, but for me/us it’s very difficult because


  • I don’t want to make a mistake.
  • Or, have a boring ceiling
  • I want something smashing.
  • But I’m afraid of making a mistake.


First of all. What makes you think that it’s easy for me? Sure, it’s easier than it was 30 years ago, but none of this is easy. Ever.

And nobody stressed more about her paint colors than me.

After I became more experienced with my home and that of many clients, I realized that all of that stress was largely unnecessary. That’s what I’m trying to say.

But,  please know that If you want something smashing, it requires skill and experience. And there are many variables. Therefore, I’ll do my best to attack the most common issues. But if I don’t hit all of the notes that you need and you’re needing more help, please seek out the advice of a professional.



Some rules of thumb regarding ceilings.



  • 99% of the time, if the trim is white, it is always going to be fine to paint the ceiling the same color as the trim.


This next rule is a big one. Please listen carefully. Maybe write it down, so that you’ll remember. ;]


  • If the walls are white, paint the walls, trim and ceiling the same color. The same shade of white paint.


Here are the only six shades of white I’ve ever used in my entire 25 years of being in this business.


I’ve specified zillions of times all three elements being painted the same color and no one has ever taken out their shot-gun. Not even once.

No really. It always looks great and it always looks like three slightly different colors which is very beautiful.

I prefer flat ceilings unless the surface is perfectly smooth. A shiny ceiling will show every flaw.

The walls can be in matte or egg-shell. Egg-shell is great for darker colors.

And I recommend doing the trim in semi-gloss or satin.

More info here about getting your paint sheen right.


Really, Laurel? You paint everything the same color? That sounds so boring.


We just went through this!


But if you think that white on white is boring, let’s look at some “boring” white rooms where everything is painted one color.


Suzanne Kasler


Nancy Keyes


And no, the back color is NOT a different shade of white. This is all one color. Benjamin Moore Decorator White or something close to it. (my bad. It’s Winter Snow oc-63) Why does it look this way? It’s all about the lighting.


Darryl Carter.


Here, the wall might be a shade deeper. Either way, it’s a gorgeous room.


Well, what if the walls are not white?


If the trim is white, then paint the ceilings the same color.


What if I don’t want a white ceiling?


You can still paint everything the same color.

If the walls and trim are white or even if the walls are some other color, 99% of the time, a soft blue ceiling is wonderful.


This is a post about different colors for a ceiling with lots of blue ones.


blue ceiling and wall ideas


Here are some other ceilings that aren’t white.


benjamin moore palladian blue ceiling, linen white walls | Ceiling Paint Colors

A room I did several years ago. The ceiling is Benjamin Moore Palladian Blue


Werner Straub photo for Traditional Home


Tim Barber


Fabulous bathroom. I love the accent of the aqua above the tile.



What about dark ceilings?

Here are some ideas for dark ceilings


Okay, then. What about my attic rooms that have eight walls. No joke. There are so many angles, it’s driving me crazy?


Paint it ALL ONE COLOR. In so doing, it will help the room look softer and less choppy. I usually do a shade of white or cream. But I’ve also done khaki and gray.


Jacquelynne P. Lanham and Shope Reno Wharton – Architects


Love this beautiful soft pale blue taken all the way around the room. The trim is all painted a cream. It looks like Benjamin Moore Ivory White 925 which is one of my favorite cream colors. Here’s a nightmare ;] of a job where we used ivory white extensively.

All of the colors I’ve ever used for rooms like this are in the Laurel Home Essential Paint Collection which also comes with the palette collection using the 144 colors.


Oh wow! Really, Laurel?


Yes, really. :]



Oh, and I’ve finally updated the testimonials. They are on the page that speaks specifically about part II of the paint collection, the paint palettes.

Here are some more ideas for ceilings.


Tim Barber


His work is totally awesome!


Beautiful office before done by  Nicole Balch of Making It Lovely for the One Room Challenge™.

Look at all of those crazy angles!

And the finished room! Great job!

The wall-color is Benjamin Moore Brandy Cream oc-4 and 1030


Another Tim Barber beauty. This room has a very beautiful subtle wallpaper pattern. And please notice the painted brick on the fireplace. Imagine how horrid it would be if it was red brick. For more about horrid brick you can check out this post.


Okay, I’m starting to feel a little better about my ceilings.


Good. :]

Oh wait. What about coffered ceilings? Should I paint the flat inside a different color?


Well, I never have, but I have seen some situations where it is quite beautiful. But remember that it’s going to be a design element that’s going to call a lot of attention to itself, so it means a good balance in other parts of the room.

The other thing about coffered ceilings is something to look out for. Any ceiling can have a tiny coffer like this.

Lifestyle and Design

And this is a fantastic post in the link. This is a DIY, although, I would not recommend that. But what’s really cool is that they did this to cover up a horrid popcorn ceiling.

But unless your ceiling is super-duper high, I prefer the traditional coffers not to be deeper than six inches. I’ve seen some that are deeper and they look too heavy, IMO.


This classic living room by Joseph Kremer is perfect.


And that brings me to tray ceilings.


Ahhhh… if there’s any hallmark of bad post-modern-traditional architecture, it’s the ubiquitous tray ceiling, commonly seen in the master bedroom and other rooms.


I say, ugh because they are often too big and too heavy and sometimes there are multiple trays causing a lot of confusion as to what gets painted what.

They disturb me so much that I don’t even want to post any. So, I’m not. But most of  you probably know what I’m talking about. And maybe you have one.

Don’t fret. You do not have to make it worse by painting it in stripe-y colors. I would just paint it all one color. Sometimes it looks nice to paint just the very top a different color.


But here’s a sweet tray ceiling in the most charming galley kitchen ever. Sorry, source unknown. If anyone knows, please let me know and I’ll add it.


Other treatments for ceilings.


Shiplap and barn siding are very popular for ceilings these days.


From Britain With Love


Kitchen and Beyond




This is reminding me of the project we did for a new build a couple of years ago.



Well, I hope that answered some of your questions about ceilings.


Happy President’s Day if you’re in the US!



PS: Spectacular weekend for sales. Please check out the newly updated pages with dozens of my favorite home furnishings– on sale!


5th edition rolodex-post-graphic - November 2018 - A unique shopping guide with hundreds of sources created by Laurel Bern

  • Christine - March 26, 2018 - 5:18 PM

    I have had ceiling nightmares for a few years – my master bathroom has many slopes and angles, as high as 14 feet, and the ceiling was in such a bad state. With our recent master bath gut and renovation, my husband vetoed adding mill-work or even crown molding to the ceiling to make it look better… We went gorgeous on everything else in the bathroom, so I was crushed to think that we’d be left with the same old icky ceiling. Alas… as I saw my builder start painting the enormous slanted walls / ceiling in blah “Ceiling White”, I made him stop. The walls had just been painted beautiful Ballet White, and I picked Cloud White for both the trim and the ceiling. Happily, it worked perfectly and now I don’t even notice the ceiling. My builder was happy as well, he said the coverage was much better in the Cloud White. However…. I have a real problem (relatively speaking) with our sunroom (actually part of the kitchen). It came with the house in Linen White (beadboard ceiling and walls) and some other white trim. I got tired of that and foolishly picked Ewing Blue for the walls – it’s a real pretty color for a vase, but not my walls!!!! It’s way too much… doesn’t flow with the house at all. I am trying to select a white (Chantilly Lace or White Dove maybe) to paint over the Ewing Blue walls… but now I read your post and think I need to do EVERYTHING that one right white. It gets enormous sun all day long – East, South, West – and it mainly windows an even skylights. I would be happy to send you pics of the before and the mistake-after / limbo…. Great post Laurel!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 26, 2018 - 5:30 PM

      Hi Christine,

      Thanks so much! If you’re a subscriber, you should’ve received a free guide called “freaking out about your paint colors.” If you can’t find it, type in FREAKING OUT in your computer (if you saved it) or your email search box and it should pop up. If you haven’t subscribed, please do so with any form at the top of all blog posts.

      It’s impossible to advise on paint colors over the internet. But once you have your guide, it explains how to choose colors.ReplyCancel

  • Kiera - February 23, 2018 - 10:20 AM

    When I saw the third image I immediately said to myself “That has to be Darryl Carter, because it’s all done in white and it’s completely perfect and I love every single thing about it.” And lo and behold, it was. The more I see of his work the more I love it. And Nancy Keyes – I don’t know if she reads the comments, but if she does, Nancy, your design sense is exquisite and your house is gorgeous. Laurel, I love that you show not only your own excellent work but also these other great designers, and I especially appreciate all the work you do in grouping these different designers and their takes on the same kind of theme or color scheme. I learn so much from this blog!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 23, 2018 - 12:42 PM

      Thanks so much Kiera! Nancy does read a lot of the comments and I’m incredibly grateful for her wisdom and awesome contribution! She’s the real deal!ReplyCancel

  • Missy Ann - February 20, 2018 - 5:19 PM

    Love this post! Actually, I love all your posts! You share so much knowledge! Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Molly - February 20, 2018 - 1:31 PM

    Laurel, I’ve searched your blog multiple times for advice on cove ceilings. I’ve got two rooms (living and dining) with cove ceilings that the previous owner applied popcorn to (and it’s asbestos so, lucky me, I’ve got abatement in my future). The popcorn makes the ceiling dark and shadowy (it’s likely just “ceiling white”). There is no crown. Question is (once the abatement is done) do we add crown and do ceilings and crown/other moulding white or no crown and go with walls and ceiling the same. I like the idea of crown but there are a couple of places where it might look odd (around the chimney which is slightly angled near where it meets the ceiling) and over the doorway between the two rooms there’s only a couple of inches (not cased opening but arched). I can figure out all the other ceilings in my house thanks to your advice, but I’m lacking good examples of cove ceilings.ReplyCancel

  • Michelle Marceny - February 20, 2018 - 10:51 AM

    I love to see your fresh and classic perspectives. I learn something every blog.


  • julie - February 19, 2018 - 7:26 PM

    Wow, I kind of liked the tray ceiling in my dining room. It gives some definition to the dining room portion of a large living room / dining room combination. It also adds, what I don’t know, maybe character, to a 1982 no style, builder blah house. I will re think painting the top of it….I usually like your opinions and outcomes.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 21, 2018 - 1:26 PM

      Hi Julie,

      Some tray ceilings are wonderful. I posted one such, but some are over-scale or too many “trays” and it can be confusing. There is no one right way to paint a tray ceiling and the way you have it, is most likely just fine! ReplyCancel

  • Gail Caryn - February 19, 2018 - 11:02 AM

    Another great post. Great response to Florida too. Yikes girlfriend retract the claws!!!!
    I love a white ceiling if there is crown but I’m not fond of the line when colour meets white without crown. I can’t afford crown right now, so I painted all the bed and bath ceilings the same as the walls in matte. I’ve got Woodlawn blue, gray owl, silver satin and and lovely gold from Behr in the north bedroom. I love the coloured ceilings and I never have to obsess about not getting the line perfect where the ceiling meets the walls. My ceilings are 9’3″ but I’ve done this with 8 ft as well especially in bathrooms where I use satin on the ceiling. It sure makes the painting easier too!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 19, 2018 - 2:45 PM

      Thanks so much Gail and agree about the two color thing in rooms with no crown. If it’s a subtle difference, it’s okay, but otherwise, I think it looks wrong.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah Clarke - February 19, 2018 - 12:11 AM

    Hi Laurel, I have been absolutely LOVING your blog since I finally broke down and asked Dr. Google how the !@#$% to pick paint colors. Since then I have practically gone blind catching up on all of your posts (ok, it might also have something to do with just turning 45 — happy belated bday, my fellow aquarian!). This whole time while feverishly devouring your writing, I have been like, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE, LADY(or at least since I bought my first house in 2011)???! THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for your generosity in sharing such hard-earned wisdom and talent from many years “in the trenches,” your great sense of humor, your down-to-earth approach, your honesty, your impeccable style, your values, and today the perfect response to a “difficult” commenter. So sorry to read that. You spread joy and create inspiration. I look forward to buying your products as soon as I unglue my eyeballs from your gorgeous posts. Thank you again for helping us all up our game. MUCH LOVE XOXO!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 19, 2018 - 1:31 AM

      Oh Thank you so much Sarah! I don’t usually post trolling-type comments but really now.

      I’ll never understand why some people think it’s okay to defame someone on their own blog. Maybe it makes them feel mighty to put others down. But to me, they sound like the deranged rantings of a “drunk dialer.”

      Usually, those nasty words go straight into the trash heap, but once in a while I’ll publish one.

      Fortunately, I’m quite blessed as most people make positive, kind comments like yourself. I don’t expect that either, but it is always greatly appreciated! xoxo


  • Julie S - February 18, 2018 - 8:18 PM

    Preach it, sister. Some testimonial here. I’m one of those who loses sleep at night over paint colors and let me tell you about my ceilings.

    When we renovated our new house we didn’t have the money to do anything to the ceiling – open floor plan, vaulted to 12′ but with a soffit running along the peak and other weird angles in addition to that, with knockdown texture and semigloss cream paint. We painted the walls white and updated their texture, and ignored the ceiling. I have both white and cream in my decor so I figured it would work. Guess what, it does. I rarely look up to notice the sheen and texture, and just have a slight sense of a darker ceiling above. In fact the darker ceiling adds intimacy to the sunny white space. I quite like it, and we may never even get around to repainting it what with everything else that bugs me more.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 18, 2018 - 9:13 PM

      Hi Julie,

      And there it is! My whites are not perfect either. I just left them the way the place came. Once in a while, I notice, but usually not.

      I just couldn’t deal with painting when I moved and everything was in good condition. The only rooms I painted were the bedroom and bathroom because the colors made me want to barf a little during the day. lolReplyCancel

  • nancy keyes - February 18, 2018 - 3:52 PM

    Hi Laurel,
    You know I am going to thank you for showing our LR again! Just a couple of days ago we were looking at the ceiling and it was light blue! If I didn’t know better I would have thought a painter broke in during the night and painted it. The mouldings on the ceiling still looked white though. The next day it was green near the window and pink on the other side. And bright bright white in the area where we were sitting. You are SO right that it is all about the lighting as well as time of day and what is outside the window. XOReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 18, 2018 - 9:08 PM

      Hi Nancy,

      Well, the reason I show your living room so often is because it is a beautiful lesson in exquisite decorating. It’s put together without looking in any way stale or dated. It is the epitome of timeless!

      And I love your sharing this bit about the changability of colors.

      Another favorite of mine is when the same color on adjacent walls looks warm on one wall and cool on the other wall.

      I once saw this in a dining room on a summer afternoon. It was China White. One wall looked like a very pale gray with a hint of lavender and the wall perpendicular to it, looked to be a very pale gold.

      Of course, if I came back in a couple of hours, it would likely look completely different!ReplyCancel

  • Maria - February 18, 2018 - 3:43 PM

    Hi Laurel. I’m loving your blog. I just wish that there was a colour guide or something that would help me chose colours correctly. I’m prepared to purchase if you do have something to that effect. Thanjs so much for a wonderful blog… Look forward always, regards MariaReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 18, 2018 - 9:04 PM

      Hi Maria,

      Well, then, I’m doing something wrong. There IS a guide and in fact, I talked about it in the post at least once, maybe twice and linked to the information pages. I guess it’s a fine line between making folks aware of these products that I’m incredibly proud of and shoving them down their throat ad nauseum. Nobody likes that!

      The paint product is actually two products in one. Part I is highly curated collection of 144 beautiful Benjamin Moore colors along with info about each color. And there’s one huge Universal palette where all of the colors go with all of the other colors.

      And each color has the white/off-white trim colors that will work best with that color.

      Part II takes those colors and puts them into 40 palettes with boards and furniture and sources. Plus 12 palette families with what families work with other families. So, you can take any of the colors with the families and “cousins” of the families and they will work well together.

      Wouldn’t it be nice if it was like that in real life? lol

      And if you are interested in purchasing Laurel’s Rolodex along with the paint color/palette bundle, you’ll get $40 off.

      The link is in the top menu bar on the left or you can click this link.

      Once on that page, there are links that will take you to other pages with more information as it would be overwhelming to put all of that on one page.ReplyCancel

  • Rose - February 18, 2018 - 3:39 PM

    This a wonderful and practical post.
    I know from experience that problems with ceiling are like problems with doors. Both seem very complicated, but as you explain in this post, ceilings can be treated in the simplest possible way and be elegant. Have you ever done a post on doors? I used the search box and looked at several that came up as results, but none concentrated on doors more or less exclusively. Any advice as to what to do with too many doors in too many different styles and colors and finishes?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 18, 2018 - 8:55 PM

      Hi Rose,

      I’ve put doors on the list. But I’ll just say except for the front doors, there probably shouldn’t be too many different styles. Or at the very least, a unifying feature like the color.ReplyCancel

  • Genie Harris - February 18, 2018 - 12:16 PM

    As usual just a beautiful post. I’m getting ready to remodel a very old Tudor revival house in St Louis that has been stripped of a lot of its wonderful charm! I also love ceilings with plaster detail but oh so expensive to do!

    Love your blog! You write so wonderfully!!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 18, 2018 - 2:48 PM

      Thanks so much Genie! It’s funny, but there’s going to be a post very soon about another old home in St. Louis only hers is Edwardian. She did a real number on her kitchen and it’s awesome!ReplyCancel

  • Jenny - February 18, 2018 - 12:11 PM

    Thank you for another great post Laurel..I don’t know what the subject of ceiling has with making one calmer and happier, probably something metaphorical lol..but your post sure exuded warmth and calm that are always sorely needed. Beautiful examples, as always. Happy Sunday!!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 18, 2018 - 2:45 PM

      Hi Jenny,

      Well, that’s the objective, I think, especially with paint. Of course, if one wants a vibrant color, that’s okay too, just something different that I think takes a lot of skill or it could look really bad. But I love it when I see something that I had never thought of and it looks great!ReplyCancel

  • Maggie - February 18, 2018 - 11:20 AM

    Wonderful post, making ceiling treatments simple !! This really boils it down and is helpful. Love the all white rooms you show, they are beautiful and so not-boring, and the occasional blue ceiling is a nice touch. I had my bedroom painted recently, BM Feather Down with the ceiling and trim BM Cotton Balls (Thanks for the Cotton Balls idea, it’s a gorgeous white.) Bedroom has some sort of “cathedral” ceiling, basically its all triangular, no beams or moulding, just triangle shaped if you know what I mean. I wanted to paint the walls and ceiling the same matte Feather Down, with just the woodwork+ trim in Cotton Balls. I thought it might take the focus away from the sharp angle. I (stupidly) listened to the painter of all people, who told me “it’ll be too dark, you will hate it, it will look bad” !! Then I saw on one of your blogs recently this same ceiling shape and you recommended it be all the same color. Like you have said on multiple occasions, don’t listen to a painter for decorating advice. I should perhaps have listened to myself instead. Nonetheless, I still love the Feather Down/Cotton Balls color combo and the room looks lovely.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 18, 2018 - 2:43 PM

      Hi Maggie,

      Oh, those painters! Not that all of them are bad with their advice, but too many of them only know what they know and what they know is limited because they basically just do the same thing over and over again. And it’s not a mistake to paint the angles in a soft white like cotton balls.ReplyCancel

  • Nancy - February 18, 2018 - 10:12 AM

    While I was in the paint store several of us customers started chatting. One lady said she always used pearl finish on ceilings, it made the ceilings feel higher. She said she was an interior decorator. I am impressed by experts so I did just that. I used a pale blue with pearl finish. (The pale blue was my idea, she looked a little doubtful.)
    It might be the placebo effect but I think she’s right, I’m going to use the Benjamin Moore pearl finish on ceilings from now on.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 18, 2018 - 2:40 PM

      Hi Nancy,

      Actually, it’s the pale blue that makes the ceiling look floaty. I had that in my old home and loved it. It really lifted the 8 foot ceiling. I’m not saying that it’s bad to paint the ceiling in the pearl finish. Lots of designers like the luster, but if the ceiling has flaws, they could show up. It depends on the lighting too.ReplyCancel

  • Eleanor - February 18, 2018 - 9:42 AM

    We have a Cape Cod with dormered bedrooms, bathroom, and mini loft. I painted most of the ceilings the same color as the walls and it looks great. The girls’ room is BM Sleepy Hollow, bathroom Ballet White. I used BM Desert Twilight in the other bedroom and painted the ceiling white since it is such a dark color, but I think I am going to finish the ceiling in the wall color shortly since I love how it looks in the Sleepy Hollow bedroom. We don’t have great natural lighting but with bright colored bedding and white furniture, lamps and (eventually) scones it is a nice, warm, cave-like feeling. Very cozy.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 18, 2018 - 2:38 PM

      Hi Eleanor,

      Sounds great! And I usually do paint the ceilings a color with dark walls. But it depends. If there’s a lot of white in the room, and the trim is white, then a white ceiling is okay.ReplyCancel

  • Susie - February 18, 2018 - 9:38 AM

    Every now and then I see a high-gloss ceiling in a magazine but if your ceiling isn’t PERFECT, seems like it would show every flaw. Fortunately my condo has a normal ceiling (not popcorn) and my ceilings and wall are white which is fine with me.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 18, 2018 - 2:36 PM

      Hi Susie. Thanks it is true and was stated in the post; maybe you missed the line. I’m the worst reader, so I understand! And yes, those lacquered ceilings you see in magazines are VERY expensive because the labor involved is INSANE!ReplyCancel

  • Christina - February 18, 2018 - 9:26 AM


    This post is very helpful – thank you. I clicked over to the “six whites” post (which I’ve read many times) …. but was wondering if you could provide a general response regarding what types of lighting or circumstances would lead to white dove looking like a dirty white? I’m testing it in my space, of course, but just curious about if/when the color has not worked for you?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 18, 2018 - 2:35 PM

      Hi Christina,

      Well… Believe or not, I’ve not ever felt that it looked dirty, but once in a medium-dark bedroom, it seemed to look a little too bright to me at the time of day I was looking at it. But that is just me being super critical. However, any room that is north facing, and especially if there are few windows, it could look dingier than in a bright room. You’ll always be safe in a bright room with white dove. But it also depends what else is going on– the other colors, windows, lighting. It goes on and on… That is why I say that to be on the safe side, it is always best to test. Light is a funny thing and there are many other factors including terrain, part of the country, cloudy, sunny. but after a while, you won’t focus on it and it’ll most likely be just fine.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah McGee - February 18, 2018 - 9:17 AM

    You have the coolest knack for always addressing something I’m puzzling over! I think we’re cosmically connected (see, creepy fan girl rears her head again) I recently had been helping a friend who wanted to add coffered ceilings to a narrow room, but I just couldn’t make it make sense in the scheme of the whole house. Instead, I suggested – *gulp* – wallpapering the ceiling and doing millwork to jazz up the walls. I think it’s gonna turn out pretty cool. I damn well hope so since I’ve suggested a schumacher print. Please pray for us. 😉

    Also – I would be glad to write a testimonial for your paint palette! I bought it last year and it’s saved my brain from certain spin out on more than one occasion. xoReplyCancel

  • Constance - February 18, 2018 - 8:31 AM

    Love your insights, Laurel but you didn’t mention what to do if your woodwork is NOT white! My old French country home has dark mouldings , doors and windows:. Any different suggestions? Thx ConnieReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 18, 2018 - 2:26 PM

      There are some posts that feature wood mouldings. If the walls are white, the ceiling can be white. I’m not overly fond of white ceilings if the walls are a strong color and the the moulding is a wood stain. It tends to look like someone forgot to paint it. But it’s typically what I see as people have in their heads that ceilings MUST be white. Often I paint the ceiling the wall color if the trim is wood or another color in the scheme. Or let’s say that they walls are teal and the trim is wood, it could be a lighter analogous shade of green, perhaps. Good question.ReplyCancel

  • Tinamarie - February 18, 2018 - 8:27 AM

    Hi Laurel,

    I am painting the flat inside coffered ceiling black and the whole rest of the room white. so I then used the search bar for “good balance ” because I have no idea what you mean by that but am always eager to learn from you; and nothing really came up about good balance.
    Did you do a post on good balance?

    Because now I’m scared,


    • Jan - February 19, 2018 - 2:26 PM

      I believe that a black ceiling would be visually “heavy” so to balance that strong visual weight – add black accents on the walls and around the main part of the room – and on the floor.
      For example – add black-framed art or photos (which could contain black, of course!); black framed mirror; or consider adding a black border to curtains or blinds.
      Then in the main part of the room – add a black coffee table or black in some of the fabric choices – maybe a couple of pillows. On the floor – add a rug with a touch of black too.
      These are just examples! Move the strong color around the whole space! Just some thoughts – hope that Laurel doesn’t mind!ReplyCancel

      • Laurel Bern - February 19, 2018 - 2:53 PM

        Hi Jan,

        I know that you have nothing but the best of intentions; I did say something similar, (“It means that you need some bold colors and/or patterns and black on the floor, furnishings and walls.”):] however I don’t like to give specific advice in the comments or encourage others because it begets others wanting advice and then things could get really out of hand. Plus, it’s awkward if I don’t agree with the advice.

        But also, I feel quite strongly that it’s not a good idea without seeing what’s going on. It’s like a doctor diagnosing a problem on the phone. He might have a good idea what the problem is, but until he sees the patient, can’t be certain.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 18, 2018 - 2:22 PM

      Well, I don’t think there’s a specific post, but it’s mentioned in dozens of posts because it’s an important point in good design.

      It means that you need some bold colors and/or patterns and black on the floor, furnishings and walls. But I can’t see your room or the rest of the house, so it’s difficult to know if the black panels are a good idea or not.

      Nothing is created in a vacuum and it’s how we get ourselves painted into a corner. You need a plan before doing anything, just like building a house.ReplyCancel

  • Laura - February 18, 2018 - 6:34 AM

    I absolutely love that you just said we can use all the same white for everything. You made my day! It’s probably what we’ll do. Here’s my dilemma…we are building a beautiful farmhouse, on a family acreage, inspired by a hundred years old homestead nearby. I have seven kids, the house will be heavily lived in and I can’t stand watching my white trim slowly turn smudge colored. I wish I had time to keep up with all the trim smudges, but it’s a big house and I don’t. I need tough, sturdy. Is there a post in here addressing a non-white option? I worry it’ll look funny or date my house someday or just look cluttered with greige trim. Not sure I’m bold enough or talented enough to know how. It’s 4 am and I’m stressing out about it. I like classic, not trendy, but I don’t like dirty either.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 18, 2018 - 2:18 PM

      My question is what kind of paint are you using? I recommend semi-gloss and if it’s new wood, or at least heavily prepped the Advance formula. It should clean right up. And have your kids wash their hands after every meal and when they come inside after playing. That’s what I did and it worked quite well for several years.ReplyCancel

  • florida1 - February 18, 2018 - 6:32 AM

    Hmmm well Laurel, you have become my ‘Go-to’ on your website for ideas which actually look like the ‘Real’ people of America-(mostly the ones in the ‘fly-over’ states & YES I live there-(Indiana) not Florida :)…) would actually decorate like that. BUT TODAY?? WOW…you Totally missed the mark. Those pics showing someone painted the trim, ceilings in most and the Walls ALL THE SAME COLOR OF WHITE?!!! WOW…NOPE…ain’t buying what you’re trying to sell. My eyes LOVE yes LOVE BLACK WINDOW, DOOR, Crown Molding trim with either grey or white walls…BLACK as the NEUTRAL COLOR….NOT MORE WHITE!! Those rooms look too Washed out; actually look horrible….I will still check out your site tomorrow though as this is the First time you’ve totally messed up…..ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 18, 2018 - 2:15 PM

      Well Florida. Wow! Yourself. I’m not trying to sell anything and you don’t HAVE to like what I like, but if you have nothing nice to say then you need to sit on your hands. Understood?

      I happen to LOVE, LOVE, LOVE white. Now, how would you like it if I told you that you’re a moron for not liking it? and Wow again. I wouldn’t say that, but we don’t put people down on this site-EVER. Do it again and you’ll be blocked.ReplyCancel

  • Celeste - February 18, 2018 - 3:59 AM

    This is my favorite post you’ve ever written. I love the Joseph Kremer room.ReplyCancel

  • Kristie Barnett, The Decorologist - February 18, 2018 - 12:51 AM

    Ceilings can be a challenge! I love to, very selectively, use dramatic color on ceilings. Don’t get me started on the trays . . .ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 18, 2018 - 2:09 PM

      Haha on the trays, Kristie. I know. They do some wonky things with the way the light hits them, sometimes.ReplyCancel