Hands up if you have white ceilings and woodwork?

Of course you do, we all do. And there is nothing wrong with that. White ceilings and white woodwork is not a design crime in my book. If you want to know my view on actual design crimes you can read about it here.  But I do think white ceilings and woodwork are a missed opportunity to do something more brilliant and creative. 

I don’t know why we suddenly started painting our skirting boards and door frames white. The Georgians painted their woodwork to match the walls, which is my personal favourite style. So at some point between way back then and now it became the standard thing to do. 

The white ceiling  is easier to understand as it reflects light. But if you think of your ceiling as another wall (a horizontal one rather than vertical one) then why would we paint one random wall white when all the other walls have coloured paint on them? It’s an interesting question that is hard to find a rational answer for. I think we just have white ceilings because that’s what’s expected. 

But like I say. If we were to give it a little more thought we could make our rooms so much prettier by not conforming to what is expected. So next time you are decorating why not consider some alternative paint effects that could have a huge impact on the look and feel of your room. 

Paint colours for ceilings and woodwork

All woodwork matching the walls in Farrow and Ball’s Pavilion Gray



If you are going for a neutral colour then you could certainly think about taking that colour up on to your walls. The benefit of painting them all one colour is blurring the edges between the ceiling and the walls. This creates less distraction to the eye so will instantly make your room feel more calm and can also make it feel bigger. It also means no cutting in, hurrah! And you don’t have to buy two colours so could save you a bit of cash too. 

You can also pull off this look with a darker colour if you have enough lighting in the room. So just make sure you have pendant lights, wall lights, table lamps and floor lamps to avoid creating a cave. 


The other trick, if you are going for a neutral colour on the walls, is to go with a braver colour on the ceiling to add a bit of punch. You can go with any colour that ties in with any other aspects of the room like accessories and soft furnishings to create a cohesive look. 


Darker colours advance toward you, so if you have really high ceilings and want your room to feel more cosy. Then painting them darker will have the effect of lowering the ceiling. 


If you are going for a dark colour on the walls and want to keep it light on the ceiling then go for an off-white to soften the contrast. Pure brilliant white against a very strong colour always looks a bit stark. 


If you’re feeling really brave then why not wall paper your ceiling? Again this works really well to help cosy up a large room with high ceilings. It can really add drama and interest without being too in your face. 


Just like with a matching ceiling, matching your woodwork to the wall colour creates a real sense of calm in a space. It will also make your room feel loads bigger. Because you’re not drawing attention to them by painting them in bog standard white they blend into the walls so make you walls feel wider and taller. They also look much prettier in a colour rather than a white which will yellow with age. This is a complete winner in my book so I’d strongly recommend trying this in your own home. 


This is a very contemporary look that works brilliantly in period properties. It really makes a feature of your beautiful characterful home by drawing attention to the architectural details. And because it’s not such a big commitment as painting your walls it allows you to be quite brave if you’re normally a bit colour shy. I would avoid this look in a modern home if you have small, functional skirtings. Because if they aren’t pretty then you don’t want to be drawing attention to them.


And finally if you are going for a colourful wallpaper then choose a colour to paint your woodwork that features in the design. This will create a really warm and considered scheme. 

So you see there are loads of alternatives to white. White isn’t a terrible choice as long as it is a choice, and not just something you’ve given no thought to. 

If you like the sound of these ideas but are lacking the confidence or conviction then give me a call or drop me an email, I’ll always be more than happy to help.

Sarah x