Painting a Ceiling with Color

painted ceiling

Amy Krane Color

When you’re looking to add a design detail that’s a bit out of the ordinary, consider using color on a painted ceiling. It adds an element of fun and whimsy to a room. But designers really differ on the when and how-to.

Parameters when deciding to paint a ceiling with color.

If the ceilings are low, don’t do it. When the ceiling is painted differently than the rest of the room the eye will gravitate towards it. If the ceilings are low it will accentuate this problem. If the room is very colorful already either from wall color, decor or both, don’t do it. It might tip the balance in the room and create a chaotic space. Consider the color of the walls and floor. The most sure fire way to guarantee a colored ceiling will work is by mixing it with white or off while walls.

Painted CeilingsNext choice is with neutral, low saturation colors. Again we are looking to keep the harmony in the space by not getting too busy. Low saturation colors have a lot of grey in them which will counter balance more hue on the ceiling.  Another way to prevent mistakes is by choosing the same color as the walls but changing the value (or lightness) of the color on the ceiling.

Painted Ceilings

Types of colors for a painted ceiling.

Choosing to carry a muted, soothing color like a desaturated blue onto the ceiling works well. Remember in general, cool colors recede, warm colors advance. Black is tricky. Sometimes it creates the illusion of infinite space and looks like a night sky. If the ceiling is high enough this is often the case. In these circumstances it’s a wonderful choice. Other times the dark color will really make the ceiling feel like it’s coming down on you causing a cave-like ambience. A color painted on the ceiling in the wrong environment can do that.
Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 11.32.40 AMNote above, in the room on the left, the black is just on the ceiling but in the middle photo the black was pulled down to cover the top portion of the wall. This will, in effect, lower the ceiling so it should only be done in a room with very high ceilings. In the room on the right the black ceiling echoes the black floor, creating a very different effect than in the first two rooms whose floors are white. This creates a sort of book ended feeling ~ very cozy.
painted a colored ceilingChoosing  a warm color for your ceiling really changes the temperature of the room. Again, this is most successful in an otherwise neutral environment.
In general, I advise to use flat or matte paint on a ceiling to avoid reflections bouncing all over the room but if gloss is desired make sure the rest of the room is devoid of shine.
painting ceilings with colorCreating patterns with color can be really interesting but if you plan to pull the ceiling color onto the walls be careful how you to do it. By pulling the green onto the wall and the floor, the room on the left has created a balanced environment. I would have not painted the molding green on the entranceway as they did though.  The room on the right is less successful. They’ve tried to balance the activity on the ceiling with pattern on the floor but the room feels disjointed. A doorway serves an important function and making it disappear, though playful, doesn’t help it fulfill its role to signal a place of egress.
color on a painted ceilingLastly, tying the color of the ceiling into another part of the structure adds to the cohesion of the space. The black ceiling works beautifully with the black doors and trim in the loggia on the right. The bathroom on the left would have worked better without turquoise on the vanity as it’s not a part of the architecture and ends up appearing piecemeal and arbitrary.

9 Sophisticated Color Palettes for your Home

Living Room colorsScreen Shot 2016-06-06 at 9.20.07 AMSummer is here and many of us are thinking about painting and redecorating. With 3500 Benjamin Moore colors alone the possibilities are endless. Often people find it difficult to know where to start. While any color on its lonesome might be a beauty, it’s really about how colors combine which create the finished effect. Looking for a sophisticated color palette which brings elegance or whimsy to your home? Think outside of the box and be adventurous with your combinations.  The Living room above found in House Beautiful exemplifies this notion. Mixing a warm lavender (warm because the red in its makeup is palpable) with caramel and ecru creates a space which surprises. The warm tones in the cool purple pick up the same warm tones in the leather seating and linen curtains. The gold tree is the final note of whimsy which brings all of the colors together.

Sophisticated Den colors

Meredith Heron

Den colorsYou can’t go wrong using complementary colors so beginning with blue and orange is always a winner. It gets more adventurous when the tomato red is added as an accent color. The mix of warm and cool colors together guarantees a dynamic balance to the room’s color palette. Combining muted with brights keeps the overall effect eminently livable.

Sophisticated Bedroom Colors

Architectural Digest

Bedroom colorsThis bedroom from AD ( not an Amy Krane design) is simply exuberant. Without the grey walls and floor it would be too much, but tempered by their neutrality the oranges and chartreuse really sing. Again, employing the complements of green and orange bring excitement to the overall color palette. Using two shades of the same hue is usually a successful way to decorate and both orange and green are two colors which mix well with its own kind.

Green dining room

Attribution Unknown

Benjamin Moore dining room colorsMixing greens touches something deep in most of us. Why? Because we are very accustomed to seeing many different shades of green together in the natural world. Here the deep yellow green walls play off of the mint green floor. They are electrified and shocked out of their relaxed state by the addition of fuchsia. Bravo!

moody bedroom colors

Deluxe Valentine

benjamin Moore bedroom colorsWho would have thunk it? Dusty rose with coral. This is highly unusual and very dramatic. It’s an intense color combination and would not work without the relief provided by the white with the slight green undertone.  The white gives it all a sense of balance with its lack of hue and cool counterpoint.

baby blue dining room

Architectural Digest

Benjamin Moore PaintPastels have gained popularity recently but when they’re combined with other pastels the overall look can be insipid. It’s simple not for grown ups. Here baby blue is used as the backdrop to a combination of red and purple. All together it’s dynamic. With so much intense color around, the rustic pale wood floors help balance the equation. Red and violet are wonderful partners as they share a common component. Note all of the plaster wall details and moldings are painted the same color as the walls. There’s no need to highlight molding with another color in a setting like this.

Gray Living Room

James Oakley

sophisticated color paletteGray is the still the hottest color for a neutral background. Here this sophisticated palette was created by using a deep gray with green undertones mixed with muted gold and orange accents. The warm colors really pop against the dramatic and moody wall tone. The ambience is elegance and sophistication. Clearly the oil painting was used as inspiration for the color palette. While one should never set out to buy art to match a particular room, using a piece of art as inspiration for a room’s coloration really creates cohesion in a space.

revere pewter

Lost & Found Style

revere pewterRevere Pewter is one of Benjamin Moore’s most popular colors. It’s a warm gray which sidles up to taupe. Here its warmth is brought out by the yellow sofa which picks up on this undertone. The yellow is perfectly complemented by the cool purple pillow. When using saturated colors it’s very wise to set them against a neutral backdrop like this.

soothing bedroom

Dyer Grimes

Benjamin Moore colorsThis bedroom is so soothing and spa-like. The key to its success is how muted all of the colors are. Because of their desaturation there is nothing juvenile about the combination. Instead of feeling like a baby’s nursery this is an elegant adult’s space which masterfully mixes cool and warm shades. Soft teal is mixed with dusty rose and pale, washed out coral. Using soft color with relaxed linen textures reinforces the mellow vibe of the bedroom.

There you have it!  9 sublime and sophisticated color palettes which are both unique and beautiful.






Exterior House Colors


Earth tone Four square houseExterior House Colors

It’s Spring and everyone’s thoughts turn to painting their house exterior. But how do we choose exterior colors?

Painting your home is a major investment and it’s meant to last a decade. The things to consider when choosing exterior house colors include: the style of house, the color palette of the homes immediately surrounding it, the region of the country, home owner association rules, if applicable, the direction the house is facing and the colors of fixed elements like the roof, masonry and hardscape around the home. Those factors considered, there will still be a wide choice of different colors and design approaches to choose from to create great curb appeal.



Many color palettes for house exteriors have been around for hundreds of years and others are newer on the scene. The same color palette will look and feel completely different depending on the architectural style of the home. Take white.

White Houses

Look at the examples below. Three homes have white clapboard but the house styles vary widely. Two have pale gray shutters giving the overall appearance a very subtle, soft look. One is the classic colonial with black shutters and a red door and one is a modern tudor with metal roof and stucco siding. The use of wood stain adds a warm organic quality to the palette. The 4 houses present quite differently.

White house exterior

Earth tone houses

Many house styles work well using earth tones and greens borrowed from nature. These tones blend beautifully with the environment. Arts and crafts houses and prairie style homes are known to use these colors to great affect.
earth tone house colorsHomes which are divided by a belly band splitting the top and bottom sections of the house can easily employ two different colors for the body of the house. Note the two homes below. They are painted the same colors. Both have craftsman details. The two tones used are close in saturation and value (intensity and lightness) but the olive green is darker. Common practice when painting a home detailed this way is to to put the darker color on top. This is the opposite of the natural order where the dark solid earth is in the lower half of our field of vision. This approach “caps” the house, keeping it solidly grounded with the heavier color on top. The other home looks good, but different.

foursquare house colorsHouse Colors in the South

Down south, architectural styles differ greatly from up North. Wood is used less due to the heat, humidity and insect population. Stucco is common. Very pale exterior house colors get washed out by the sun and warmer tones are common. Pinks, golds, yellows, sand & adobe colors are everywhere. When a cool color like blue is used it looks best bright and saturated like the turquoise below, creating a tropical look. Note how washed out the light blue house below looks while the turquoise sings.

Exterior house colors for FloridaBlack Houses

What’s really new is the growing use of black and charcoal gray on house exteriors. Most commonly used on modern homes they are starting to appear on almost every style house. The look is arresting. Black appears austere and formal when there is no contrasting trim. Adding white trim and/or a brightly colored door looks more friendly and approachable. Either way, it’s a sophisticated color choice.
Black houses

Mixing black with cedar shingles and exposed wood also softens the look.

Black housesA more quirky house color choice is mid tone or dark blue. Though sometimes considered a fugitive pigment, changing over time, dark blue houses look crisp and inviting and mix well with white or brightly colored trim and doors. Ask your painter whether they recommend stain or paint for your home. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Paint chips and peels
Blue house exteriorover time but creates a more durable and protective coating sitting on the surface of the house. Stain sinks into the substrate. It doesn’t need priming. All stains differ from paint in that they provide color yet, at the same time, allow the wood’s character to show. A “solid” product is the most opaque and allows texture, but little grain detail, to be seen. A “semi-transparent” product allows some grain to be seen; a “clear” will show the most grain. Keep in mind that the more transparent the product, the more its color will be affected by the underlying wood; so, variations in wood color will be more obvious with transparent products, as will any natural blemishes such as knots and tannin. Also, opaque products usually last longer because they block out a greater proportion of damaging, ultraviolet rays. There are many decisions to make when deciding on your exterior house colors. Make sure to test colors on the house first, painting very large swatches of color in areas of shade and direct light before investing. Colors appear lighter outside than they do indoors.