Rite Painting - Should I paint my ceilings and walls the same color?

I’m painting the inside of my house. Should I paint my ceilings and walls the same color? I live in Kirkland.

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Kirkland and the whole Seattle area as well as the Puget Sound has a problem for about half the year: Darkness. That means you must be careful with the colors you pick for inside a house. That includes walls, ceilings, doors and trim.

The first thing to consider is, where is your house located exactly. If it is in a sun-drenched corner of main street in Kirkland’s center, and it is not overshadowed by trees or tall buildings, you are among the luck percentage of dwellers who have the option to try a color other than white on the ceiling of a room. That’s assuming you’re not talking about one of the rooms in the back of your home, which might not be as well lit as the west or southwest facing side of the house. In the northern hemisphere, especially at the latitudes we live within in Seattle or Kirkland, the north-facing side of a home is, almost without exception, the darkest side of the house. In many cases, it might never actually receive any direct sunlight at all. Coupled with that reality is the fact that trees grow big, dark and think in this part of the world, and together with the beauty of all that is another darkening factor. All of this means you have to be careful with colors.

Consider keeping the ceiling white, and the walls a different colorCrown Molding Kirkland

It’s probably human nature to respond – or at least tend to respond – to darkness overhead as a primordial cue that either the night is coming or a storm is coming. Either way, it can be thought of as a kind of deadening signal. On the other hand, a non-white color on the walls and a white ceiling can liven up the room.

All of this, of course, is how the subconscious can respond. People walk into a room and just feel something about the room, without necessarily knowing why they feel that way. That’s what makes color choice the potentially trickiest element of a house painting project, and it’s why getting it right before a lick of paint goes up is a great idea!

Consider using trim or crown molding

When you walk into your new apartment, all you see is white. The trim, walls, counters, doors, walls and ceilings are all white. That’s because it’s safe. Apartment landlords don’t know what furniture you’re going to bring in, so white is best in that situation. It goes with everything, even if it never takes advantage of what it is containing in terms of furniture. But for your own home, of course, you know what the room will contain, so you can do a lot.

If you are painting a simple wine cellar, a non-white color on the ceiling might work great, accentuated too with the door and fixtures trim of a much darker color. Still, remember to keep the ceiling color light, if not white. In your wine cellar, you might deliberately want to give off that sense of relaxing, slowness with an off-white shade.

Crown molding, if done properly, can look great if it is painted with a variation of the colors you are using, but again, you have to be careful.

Just like Henry Ford offered with the original Ford Model T, where you had “a choice of colors, as long as it was black”. With ceiling colors, you have indeed got a wide variety of colors to choose from, but you’ll always be safe with white. Still, with the right counseling, if you do choose that magic non-white color for your ceiling, it can be made to look fantastic.

Have you considered wainscoting?Wain Coting Kirkland

Wainscoting is when you cover the lower parts of a wall with a decorative wood paneling. It doesn’t actually have to be wood, because it is painted white usually, or it can actually be wallpapered within the sections. And then there is a patterned section from the wainscoting to the ceiling (or crown molding).

Wainscoting can even be done on the ceiling. The artistic effect is in fact hundreds of years old, and you can see it in fancier hotels. The reason it’s only found in more upscale places is, it’s more expensive obviously that plain paint, and it must be maintained. If you install wainscoting on your ceiling, you are forever stuck with the maintenance of it. The next time you go to get it painted, it will cost more simply because the sections are usually non-white and the wainscoting itself is usually not. That presents a more complex painting challenge to you or your contract painter. They’ll be happy to do it, of course, but it takes longer and it will therefore cost more.

Wainscoting on the ceiling can make a room look smaller. That might be OK, but be aware that it can cause a claustrophobic effect if it’s not done properly.

A non-white ceiling color is hard to get right

For most houses, you definitely want to stick to a white ceiling. If you do have to use a non-white color, crown molding that it solid white can help you avoid a perennial problem with non-white ceilings: it can look faded, aged, or even dirty.

If you do go for a non-white color, make it very clear that it is not simply a faded white. You do that by going with a color that’s far from white but still not actually dark.

Some house painting contractors include color selection as part of their service. A painting contractor may not be a full-blown interior designer / artist, but experience plays a huge role here. If your housing contractor has painted hundreds of houses, he or she is going to know what works and what doesn’t, without having to have that creative eye for color and art.

Don’t leave paint color choices to the last minute

So, you’ve booked your spot in your house painting contractor’s schedule. The temptation now is to put of the process of choosing a color (or colors). The problem is, it takes time to get the colors right. If you are choosing them yourself, you will likely be spending considerable time at the paint store comparing this with that. You will also want to try out a few colors, in small test areas, to get a sense of what colors work where. More often than not, colors look quite different when they’re up on a wall or ceiling compared to what they looked like to on a square inch within a catalog.

You should have all your color choices squared away at least one week before the project is due to begin. Many painting contractors have the problem where they call the day before the project is to begin, only to discover the house owners have not decided on their colors yet. Don’t be that home owner!

The trick here is to get advice – not simply opinions, but rather solid advice from home painting professionals – give yourself plenty of time, and you’ll end up with the right results.

Come back next week to hear about the differences between latex and oil-based paints.

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