The right ceiling paint color can trick the eye into thinking you have sky-high ceilings.

By Daniel Bortz
Updated December 12, 2018
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High ceilings may be little more than a pipe dream for many of us, but with the right ceiling paint color and some pro-approved design tricks, you can fool the eye into thinking any room is bigger than its dimensions. Homebuilders today often construct new homes with 9-, 10-, or even 20-foot ceilings, but many older homes were built with lower ceilings. Living in an older home doesn’t necessitate suffering a low, dark ceiling, though—a smart ceiling paint color can help the fifth wall feel lighter and brighter, creating the illusion of a larger living space without breaking the bank.

Pro tip: “If the room is small, [a trick] is to paint the room a light neutral color and carry the color up onto the ceiling,” says Karen Gray Plaisted, a home stager and decorator in Warwick, New York. “Painting the ceiling molding the same color as the ceiling will also make the ceiling appear higher,” Plaisted says. Combine this expert paint trick with one of the roof-raising paint colors below, and you'll be amazed how a couple coats of paint can transform your space.

Benjamin Moore

1
Pale Blue

Bethany Adams, an interior designer in Louisville, Kentucky, says pale blue is her go-to favorite for rooms with low ceilings. Why? “When we see blue above, we instinctively feel as though we’re outdoors, looking up at the sky, which lends a cramped space a more expansive feel,” she says.

Our favorite: Windy Sky by Benjamin Moore

RELATED: Why So Many Southern Porches Have Blue Ceilings

Behr

2
Pale Yellow

Like pale blue, this unexpected ceiling paint color can make a ceiling appear higher by giving you the illusion that you're outdoors, where there’s plenty of room to breathe. “Pale yellow is a good choice for the ceiling in many rooms because it's a light, bright, neutral hue that works well with many palettes,” says Dan DiClerico,home expert at HomeAdvisor, a remodeling project resource.

Our favorite: Pale Daffodil 370A-2 by Behr

Sherwin-Williams

3
Bright White

White is the default color for ceilings, and for good reason: A white ceiling adds the illusion of height to any room, says Felipe Navarro, owner of Philippe Luxe, a Los Angeles interior design firm. “It’ll also make the room more modern and crisp,” Navarro adds. Even if you have a bold color or a soft neutral on the walls, stick with a white ceiling to make the room feel taller. 

Our favorite: Ceiling Bright White by Sherwin-Williams