What Color Should You Paint a Vaulted Ceiling?

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With their sloped angles and abundant height, vaulted ceilings can be gorgeous yet tricky architectural elements. Choosing the wrong paint color risks making them feel dark and cavelike or awkwardly expansive. But the right hues can provide a stunning complement.

From picking shades that draw the eyes upward to testing samples in natural light, crucial considerations exist when selecting vaulted ceiling colors. The perfect paint choices come down to the room’s purpose and desired coziness. Cool tones promote an airy vibe, while warm hues envelop occupants in an inviting embrace.

With careful attention to undertones and lighting, you can find colors that celebrate the dimensions of your vaulted ceilings rather than competing with them. Read on to learn expert tips for choosing paint colors to beautifully complement your sloped ceilings.

Tips for choosing paint colors for rooms with vaulted ceilings


  1. Select lighter, brighter paint colors to make the ceiling appear higher and the room feel more open and airy. Whites, off-whites, light grays, and soft blues are great choices.
  2. Use darker paint colors on the ceiling to make a high vaulted ceiling feel more intimate and cozy. Go 2-3 shades darker than the wall color.
  3. Consider paint undertones – warm undertones like tans, browns, and peaches make a room feel welcoming and cozy. Cool undertones like light blues and grays promote an airy vibe.
  4. Factor in the room’s purpose and desired atmosphere when choosing colors. For example, warmer neutrals suit a TV room while cool tones work well in an office.
  5. Do test patches on the wall and ceiling to see how the colors look at different times of day before fully committing. Lighting affects paint colors.
  6. Tie the space together by using the same paint color on both the walls and ceiling for a seamless, expansive look. Go slightly lighter on the ceiling.

Consider the Room’s Purpose

Think about how you use the room and the atmosphere you want to create. Is it a cozy family room for movie nights? An elegant dining space for entertaining? Identify the mood you want before choosing paint colors.

For a cozy, inviting look, warm paint colors like tans, browns, and soft greens work well. Cooler paint shades like light blues and grays promote an airy, relaxing vibe. Bold, saturated colors can make a dramatic statement.

Accentuate the Height

Lighter paint colors make rooms feel more open and airy. They reflect light rather than absorb it, helping draw the eye up to take in the full height of your vaulted ceiling. Off-whites, soft blues, light grays, and muted greens are great choices.

Painting the ceiling a darker color than the walls can also emphasize the height. The color difference creates contrast, defining where the walls end and the ceiling begins. Just don’t go too dark or the room may feel oppressive. Stick to colors 2-3 shades darker than the walls.

Downplay the Height

Sometimes vaulted ceilings can feel overly tall and cavernous. Warm paint colors and darker shades can make them feel more intimate. Try tan, cream, light brown, or soft green on walls with a slightly deeper shade on the ceiling. The darker ceiling color will seem to lower it visually.

You can also install beams or other architectural details to break up an expansive ceiling space. Painting them a contrasting color adds definition.

Consider Undertones

The undertones of your paint color will impact how it looks. Cool undertones like blue and green can make a color feel crisp and airy. Warm orange and yellow undertones create a cozier effect. If you want a soft neutral, pay attention to undertones so walls don’t end up looking too cool and sterile or overly warm.

Factor in Natural Light

The amount and type of natural light a room gets will affect how paint colors look. North-facing rooms with cool, indirect light can handle deeper, warmer hues without appearing dark and gloomy. South-facing rooms awash in the sun may require lighter shades to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Do Test Patches

Paint a 3’x3′ section of wall and ceiling in your chosen colors and observe them at different times of day before committing. Colors look dramatically different in morning light vs evening light. Cool tones may read lighter and warmer in the yellow morning light. Warm shades could appear rich and saturated midday then muted in the evening.

Painting a whole ceiling requires tall ladders or scaffolding, so test colors first to ensure you’ll be happy with them long-term.

Consider Sheen

Flat or matte paint hides imperfections like cracks and texture variations best. It won’t draw attention to any irregularities in your ceiling the way paint with more sheen would. Flat is ideal for ceilings, but use an eggshell or satin wall paint that stands up to cleaning.

Tie It Together

Using the same color on walls and ceilings creates a seamless, expansive look. The monochromatic effect makes rooms feel larger and brighter. The ceiling and wall colors don’t need to match exactly. Pick a wall color then use a lighter tint of the same shade on the ceiling.

You can also relate the colors by choosing hues in the same tonal family, like a tan wall with a cream ceiling. Just be sure there’s enough contrast between them so the ceiling doesn’t seem to disappear.

Popular Vaulted Ceiling Paint Colors

Here are some tried-and-true paint color ideas for rooms with vaulted ceilings:

  • White: Pure white has unmatched light-reflecting powers to make rooms feel open and airy. A soft white with a subtle undertone is often more pleasing than stark bright white.
  • Light gray: Warmer grays like Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter open up a space while still feeling cozy. Cooler grays can be refreshing but risk-looking clinical.
  • Beige and tan: These warm neutrals make rooms feel welcoming. Beige with brown undertones coordinates well with wood trim.
  • Light blue or green: Soft sage greens and powder blues keep rooms feeling bright but not too feminine or juvenile.
  • Cream: As a less harsh alternative to white, cream reads warm and inviting on walls and ceilings.
  • Wood tone: Stained wood cathedral ceilings can feel wonderfully rustic and cozy or modern and sleek depending on the stain color.

Vaulted ceiling paint colors should complement the room’s purpose while enhancing the architectural details. Lighter, brighter colors typically make rooms feel more open and airy. Darker shades can create an intimate, enveloping effect.

And don’t be afraid to make a bold color statement on your sloped canvas. Just be sure to test any bold colors first to ensure the dramatic look you envision transitions well from walls to ceiling. With some thoughtful color selection, you can highlight the beauty of your vaulted ceilings.

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