Trim vs ceiling color
ldmohnke
July 2, 2012 in Design Dilemma
We are building our dream house and it's sort of a craftsman/traditional style. Lots of trim work (wainscotting, etc) that we chose to paint Dover white (not super white, but more of a soft creamy white -- almost looks off-white). We told the builder just to paint the ceilings the standard white and but now seeing the crown molding against the ceiling I'm not sure if that's the right choice. I'm just wondering if anyone out there has this type of contrast with their trim and ceiling. Probably the best thing to do is paint the ceilings the same as the walls, but I'm thinking that would be pretty expensive. Any thoughts? Thanks in advance!
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Dytecture
Hi ldmohnke, do you have pictures of where the trim meets the ceiling? Usually it won't be very obviously once you have furnished the space.


July 3, 2012 at 6:36am   
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Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
Dear Idmohnke, Providing your wall color is a different color than your trim, your crown moulding will really pop if you paint your ceiling the same color as the walls. And as long as your ceiling is smooth (not popcorn), the same paint on the ceiling should appear a shade lighter than it does on the walls.
Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
July 3, 2012 at 6:44am     
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ldmohnke
Thanks so much for the responses! This site is so great! I don't have any pics yet to post, but did go over there again today to look and it might not be too bad. I think what I'll do is wait for it all to be painted. If it drives me nuts I'll get a painter in to paint all the ceilings downstairs (we pretty much have crown all downstairs). I'm just so used to that bright white trim that flows right into the ceiling. This just has a little bit of contrast (but between whites, not color). Just didn't know what the "norm" is for trim and ceiling paint. I'm wondering if I should use the Dover white on the ceiling as well. ????
July 3, 2012 at 11:48am   
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lefty47
HI --- I would wait it out . If it still bugs you after everything is done, then repaint the ceiling. I am thinking it will all look fine in time.Once the paint cures the color will change a bit , it will darken a tiny bit. And once furniture and curtains and decor are in you won't notice any differance.
July 3, 2012 at 8:31pm   
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inkwitch
Painting ceilings can create a mess. (I have to paint mine, too.) This is probably a decision you should make sooner than later. UNfortunately, it's hard to know what until you've lived in a space for a while. There may be lighting issues that requires the ceiling to be lighter.

If you have high ceilings, painting them a darker (relative to the trim) will be stunning. What color are you painting the walls? If your ceilings are the usual 8', a lighter color than the walls is more advisable. I totally go for treating ceilings as a 5th wall, to be drawn into the overall color plan instead of ignored and painted white. Unless painting it white is part of the color scheme.

Given that you've chosen cream for the trim, painting the ceilings white is not gonig to work. Either your trim will look "dirty" or your ceiling will look out of sync with the rest of your decor.

Actually, it sounds like you really want to paint the ceiling a color, but are hesitating to commit to your urges. Trust your gut. If you've got this far with your design choices, don't wimp out now! Go for it!
July 4, 2012 at 5:48am     
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Jeff Dillard Associates
Try painting the ceilings just a slightly darker off-white than the trim. I think you'll find that it sets off the trim really well while still keeping the ceilings neutral.
July 4, 2012 at 7:36am   
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Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
I agree with inkwitch that cream trim will look dirty against a white ceiling. It may help to paint a large piece of poster board in a color you are considering and tape it next to the crown mounding. Then look at it at various times of the day.
July 4, 2012 at 7:45am     
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imamiler2
As a retired pro, I always liked ceilings painted 1/4 to 1/2 the color of the walls - depending on the light exposure of the room. Our Mstr has a three level raised section in the middle of the ceiling, and the ceiling is painted 3/4 wall color mixed with white on the first level, 1/2 wall color mixed with white in the middle and 1/4 of the same silver green wall color mixed with white. Really makes the ceiling pop.
In your case, it might be easier and less costly to re-paint your trim than the ceiling. Perhaps a lighter - or darker - color of your walls. There are something like 260 different, recognized, values of white. It is really easy to get caught in the white to white mess where one white makes the other white look dirty, or pink, or blue, or . . . .
July 4, 2012 at 2:02pm   
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karen paul interiors
Unless you are deliberately painting a color on the ceiling, then I always recommend 1/4 the wall formula on the ceiling. Someone said ceilings read lighter than walls. I think they meant to say that a ceiling always reads darker as it is a horizontal surface and does not have the advantage of natural light as would be found on a vertical surface (walls). So, if ever you are attempting to match one to the other, the formula must be less on the ceiling than for the walls. If you are wishing to have a completely compatible ceiling color to the wall, then using the same formula as the wall and knocking it back to 1/4 the formula is absolutely foolproof.
July 4, 2012 at 8:35pm   
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karen paul interiors
Unless you are deliberately painting a color on the ceiling, then I always recommend 1/4 the wall formula on the ceiling. Someone said ceilings read lighter than walls. I think they meant to say that a ceiling always reads darker as it is a horizontal surface and does not have the advantage of natural light as would be found on a vertical surface (walls). So, if ever you are attempting to match one to the other, the formula must be less on the ceiling than for the walls. If you are wishing to have a completely compatible ceiling color to the wall, then using the same formula as the wall and knocking it back to 1/4 the formula is absolutely foolproof.
July 4, 2012 at 8:35pm   
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imamiler2
Yes - this is the best, most gracious and easiest way to create a great interior. Only use the darker (1/2 of the color with white) for the ceiling IF you are looking for a very dramatic look in a room with either very high ceilings, light exposure or if your want to create a cozy cave.

Also, always keep in mind that light source will change the look of your room - and ceiling - very quickly. Choose your colors in the lighting and time of day you will use the room the most! Daylight or cool white florescent lighting is quite bright/bluish where incandesant lighting is warm in color. Your colors will change considerably day to night!

You have looked at your different whites of trim and ceiling white - in daylight. Perhaps they will soften down with warmer, incandesant lighting.
July 4, 2012 at 9:02pm     
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yvonnecmartin
If the ceiling is to be white, it should definitely be in the same family as the crown molding. As others have commented, using different whites can make one or both look off.
July 4, 2012 at 9:08pm   
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Melissa Lilley
@ldmohnk What did you end up doing with the trim and ceiling? I just bought a house where the previous owners sprayed all ceilings, walls and trim a matte off-white. I want to paint the walls a very light grey and trim a glossy white. I'm worried that I need to repaint the ceiling to be a brighter white. Thoughts?
September 12, 2013 at 5:26pm     
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ldmohnke
@ Melissa We haven't done anything with the ceiling color since we've moved in -- definitely more priorities to get to than the ceilings. :) It seriously doesn't bother me like it first did when I saw them. You build a house from scratch and there is STILL a ton of things to get done! Crazy!
September 16, 2013 at 9:20am   
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