In fact, she says, the opposite is the result. The first thing you notice in a room with richly coloured walls and a white ceiling, is the white ceiling. You have created a room with high contrast. This is not a restful environment for easy living. It is much more preferable to add some interest overhead. The ceiling can even become one of the most interesting features of a home, since there is little to obstruct our view of an interesting ceiling.
When designing a room, we would never ignore the flooring, even though it is largely hidden by furnishings and area carpets. We cannot avoid seeing most of the ceiling, and yet we ignore it and treat it as an afterthought. It receives a coat of white paint and a light fixture. Treating the ceiling in an interesting way can have a very strong effect on the overall design of a room.
Rooms that have a lot of detail in the walls, flooring, furnishings and other surfaces, but remain lacking in detail on the ceiling look unfinished. Even if the ceiling is merely painted, the whole atmosphere of the room is affected. Sometimes, a room can even develop a sense of fun, depending on the colour used.
This is not to say that a white ceiling is never the right choice. When a room has very pale walls, a white ceiling becomes unobtrusive, maintaining focus on furnishings, flooring and wall coverings. In older homes which have imperfect ceilings, or textured or patterned ceilings, it may be difficult to achieve a good paint job. In this case white may be the perfect choice to downplay the ravages of time until renovation can come to the rescue of that room. White, being reflective, is a good choice in rooms that are very poorly lit. In a room with complicated architecture, it is often difficult to decide where the ceiling stops and the walls begin. In these cases, a simple approach can work the best many times.
Rooms with white walls may seem to require white ceilings. Not necessarily so, says colour consultant, Marguerite Roberts. Instead, she says, we may enjoy living in a room in which the ceiling colour has been drawn from the softer shades found in nature. Blush pink, pale grass green, dove gray, warm peach, butter yellow, and pale sky blue on the ceiling lend a freshness and a sense of the outdoors that could not be achieved with a white ceiling (some photos courtesy of Better Homes). Light bouncing off the coloured ceiling will bathe the walls in glowing pastels. The same white walled room can become a dramatic, vibrant space simply by painting the ceiling a rich colour such as charcoal, chocolate, navy or even black. The night sky is invoked and the result is an impression than the ceiling goes on and on.
A small room which has walls and ceiling the same or similar colour feels more spacious, due to lower contrast. A bedroom or bathroom painted in this way has a restful feeling. A larger room painted in this way becomes cozier.
We are able to focus more on furnishing details. Creatively shaped rooms with angled or vaulted ceilings are made more restful and are simplified by continuing the wall colour up on to the ceiling. The room will become more unified.
Ornate ceilings are often out of reach due to budgetary constraints, as well as the fact that our ceilings are not as high as in homes of the 19th century. That is not to say that we should leave the ceiling entirely out of the design of the room. Even a normal height room can be fabulous with an ornate ceiling.
To a great extent, we have gone from one extreme to another. It is a great omission of attention to an important element in the room. By doing a little something on the ceiling, even just a paint colour, we create a reason to look up.