20 Breathtakingly Gorgeous Ceiling Paint Colors and One That Isn’t

Dear Laurel,

I’m so upset. I’ve been working with a designer and love everything she’s presented. We picked out all of the colors, fabrics, furnishings. Very happy.

I’m using a painter my neighbor recommended. Seemed to be a nice guy, but here’s what happened.

My husband’s role in all of this is to schedule all of the workers since he works from home and I don’t. Terrific. Glad he’s here to answer questions, etc. But then he gets an email from the painting contractor.

Are you ready?

Painter dude is balking at the paint selections of the woman I hired to help me select them! So, hubs gets on the band wagon and starts questioning and making me doubt myself.

Painter: You should only paint the ceiling white. Never saw it done any other way.

Painter: If you paint the ceiling that dark blue it’s going to make the ceiling look lower

Painter: You need to paint the ceiling, wall and trim a different color

Right now, Laurel, I’m the most upset about the ceiling paint colors.

Is the painter right? I told my designer and I think I saw smoke blowing out of her ears.

Thanks for listening even if you don’t have time to respond. Love your blog, Laurel!

Celine Peynter


Dear Celine,

Is murder still illegal?

I am going to tell you something and anyone else who’d like to listen. With the exception of maybe one in a hundred, do not listen to a word your painter is saying about the colors. Is your designer telling him how to paint? I wonder how that would go over!

Furthermore, it’s none of his business and exceedingly unprofessional to contradict what your designer has specified. Like, duh!

I can relate; it’s happened to me a few times and yes, it’s infuriating because it instills fear and doubt in our mutual client.

The painter only knows what he knows and in most cases, it’s extremely limited when it comes to selecting colors.

However, I am not saying to never paint a ceiling plain white. I do specify it under certain situations.

The one color I need to caution you and everyone else about with the ceiling is the good old standby



You must never paint it in a low-light north facing room.


It will almost definitely go purple.

If you want a purple ceiling, then it will be fine, if not, then stay away.

Otherwise, these whites are all excellent choices for a white or off-white ceiling.

My best advice to you in the meantime is to ignore the painter and and maybe your husband. Or, have him read this post, please.

Painting the ceiling a dark color will make it appear HIGHER, not lower. Dark colors recede and light colors advance. Bright colors also advance more than cool colors.

[tweet_box design=”default”]If you paint a ceiling a pale ethereal blue it will float above your head.[/tweet_box]

Your note has inspired me to share some gorgeous painted ceilings. Most of them are not white. Some of the rooms that aren’t mine, I am making an educated guess at the color. As always, please test your colors first! All paint colors by Benjamin Moore.

In addition, there are 100s of rooms all over this blog that have ceilings that aren’t painted white. However, there is another post devoted to beautiful ceilings. It features paint, wallpaper and other ceiling treatments.

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

This is a room we did a few years ago. The ceiling is  PALLADIAN BLUE HC-144 and the walls are LINEN WHITE. Linen White is a great color for trim with golds, browns and other warm neutrals. Or for walls where there’s a good amount of light. For more dim rooms, I prefer Ivory White 925.



This is a room that’s almost finished now. The ceiling paint color is OPAL ESSENCE 680 and let me tell you it is THE most beautiful ethereal blue-green for a ceiling I’ve ever seen. The walls and trim are the aforementioned IVORY WHITE 925.

Notice how even though the trim and walls are the same color, the different finish and the way the light hits each one renders the color a little differently. This is a little sun room that’s very common in older homes in Westchester County. The furniture is coming in about 12 days!


benjamin-moore-cool-breeze-csp-665-design-lindy-allen-photo-Jessie Alexis Photography-painted-ceilings-hall

Designer: Lindey Allen Photo: Jesse Alexis via: House of Turquoise

ceiling paint color: COOL BREEZE CSP 665


Sarah Richardson – Country Living

ceiling paint color: SERENE BREEZE 449


Jenny Wolf

PARSLEY SNIPS CSP 635 (actual color)

benjamin-moore-baltic-sea-csp-680-ceiling-white-dove-trim-design-lindy-allen-photo-Jessie Alexis Photography-office ceiling

Design: Lindy Allen photo: Jessie Alexis Photography via: House of Turquoise

BALTIC SEA CSP 680 withe WHITE DOVE trim (actual colors)


Nate Berkus  photo: Lowes Regency Hotel


I love the look that this deep,  rich saturated color gives when wrapped completely around the room.


Mary McDonald

This looks to be a metallic specialty finish. There are several on the market. Benjamin Moore makes metallic glazes which you can read about here.



Chloe Warner via: Lonny

Fabulous luminous finish and wonderful analogous color scheme. I can’t quite tell what it is. It is a little pearly-metallic and little bit of a slightly rustic lacquer look. More about lacquer in a bit.


Ruthie Sommers


Ruthie is always so inventive. At first I thought that was clear glass but then realized it’s a mirror. Please notice the tripod reflected!



Tilton Fenwick




Designer: Jenny Wolf Photo: Emily Gilbert



benjamin-moore-galapagos-green-ceiling-paint-high-gloss-architect-bill-ingram-Laurey W. Glenn-photo

Architect: Bill Ingram  Photo: Laurey Glenn

GALAPAGOS GREEN 475 in a high gloss finish. (actual color)

I’ve had clients wanting to get a lacquer-like look with high-gloss paint. They are two different things. The old lacquer was a noxious substance thinned with alcohol. Today’s lacquers are actually a varnish that goes over the glossy paint. However, to get an amazing glass-like finish requires first an immaculately anal-retentive-OCD-beyond-perfect surface.

Then, it’s numerous coats of paint, sanding, paint, sanding, varnish, sanding, varnish, sanding… Did I mention that the paint is sprayed on? It is better to use an oil-based paint as well because it levels out better.


(This is why if you don’t want to do all of that, if you paint the ceiling flat you won’t notice the small imperfections.)


Yes, there’s a more rustic version of lacquer, but this is for the glass-like finish.


Jeffrey Bilhuber



More like this! Generally, a lacquered finish is going to appear lighter than the color looks on the chip. Of course, if you decide to go this route, please make samples!



Apartment Therapy

BLACK 2132-10



Thom Filicia


Thom’s lacquer finish is especially glass-like. This was for a show house, so of course, he pulled out all the stops!


Apartment Therapy



Southern Living


I love how the dark blue sets off the art and actually makes the space warmer, IMO.



Sarah Richardson – Country Living


How charming is this girl’s room. Whenever you have lots of angles, it’s always better to paint them all one color.



Sara Gilbane


Another ethereal-blue and a lacquered ceiling. Will the shiny ceiling look higher? Not really sure about that, but the pale blue does lift it up.

It’s like the sky!



What about you? Are there any special colors you’ve used for ceilings that you love? OR one you tried and it was not so great? I’d love to hear in the comments!


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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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