If all the ceilings and trim in your house are a shade of white—this one is for you! Why did you pick white as the color for your ceilings and trim? Did you specifically pick it to achieve a certain effect or did you pick it because you thought ceilings and trim have to be white?
There are no “trim police” that come around to check your rooms, so you are free to choose different colors—the whole paint palette is there for you! Paint is such an easy and relatively inexpensive way to make a difference in your décor that it’s a shame not to use it more creatively.
In choosing paint colors, I tell my clients to think about what they are trying to emphasize in a room and what they are trying to minimize when they paint. If the setting is more contemporary and trims and mouldings are minimal—perhaps they should paint them the same color as the wall but in a semi-gloss. This achieves a more streamlined overall look and de-emphasizes any trim or mouldings. If a client’s home has beautiful, original old mouldings that should be showcased, then a contrasting color from the wall would make the mouldings stand out—a shade of white or other color that “pops” against the wall color can achieve this effect.
The ceiling is equal to the walls in terms of importance. I think people get so tired of picking colors that they say, "I am done," and just paint all ceilings and trim white. Instead, with a bit more energy and thought, the ceiling can provide another avenue to create an effect, to blend rooms with each other or distinguish one space from another. For example, if clients have a space that they want to seem cozy and unified and there is no particular reason to highlight the ceiling, they can paint the ceiling a lighter shade of the wall color.
I often do ceilings in 25 percent of the color of the wall. Paint stores can mix the colors for you at 25 percent color, which gives the effect of the same color on the wall but also creates the high-ceiling look (that one often wants to achieve with white) by having the color be a bit lighter. In houses with rooms open to other rooms, sometimes bringing the wall color from one room to the ceiling on the adjoining room helps to make the rooms go together better. Ceilings also can be painted in different finishes—there is no rule that all ceilings have to be in a flat or matte finish even though most painters will tell you that is the conventional way. Using shiny finishes creates more reflection and play with the light in the room in different ways.
In closing, I want to say that I don’t have anything against white or various shades of white. White walls and ceilings in a contemporary setting can often be the ideal way to display a collector’s modern paintings. White ceilings and trim against navy walls can create an amazing nautical effect in a boy’s bedroom. And, sometimes you do just want the white ceiling and trim because you think it looks best with the walls and other décor. Just think about it a bit before you jump in and automatically choose the white.
Deborah B. Scheck is the founder of Deborah B. Scheck Interiors, LLC. For more information, please visit www.scheckdb.com.