One of the most transformative tricks in the decorating book

Morning, today don’t feel so great.  Achy, couldn’t sleep, hot, then cold yadda yadda yadda. Right now I should be at Pilates – but no chance of that, and so little sympathy with anyone else at home. The two M’s have gone off for their play in the park zooming out the door, balls in mouth, tails wagging not so much as a kiss or feel better soon Mummy whisper. Such is life as they say.

When it comes to decorating I push boundaries, not crazy boundaries but ones that I have found over the years are pretty transformative. One of the single most important things you can do to a space any space, big, small, palatial is to paint the ceiling out the same hue as the walls. It’s a simple trick but one that scares clients the most and I kind of don’t get why? Whenever I mention it faces contort (especially if the scheme happens to be dark) and I always get the same answer NO. As a designer you are constantly on the battlefield, trying to convince and coerce clients into trusting you, you walk this fine line between trying wholeheartedly not to cause waves but at the same time pushing gently pushing clients (after all that’s why they hired you right) into trusting you. Sometimes there is fisty cuffs, hair pulling and stamping of feet (rarely thank God) other times it’s a zillion images under the nose or a trip to my pad so they can see in real life just how transformative it is.

Below is one of my convincing images (have a heap of them) that I show clients. When you paint the ceiling out, lines blur the space becomes more sophisticated somehow as the room feels grandeur, btw if it’s a small room even better as its even more transformative. Then what you put in the space immediately pings out at you. It’s such a simple trick, but it’s the biggest obstacle I have time and time again. So now I’m trying it on you guys. Paint your ceiling out the same colour as your walls (no matter what  colour your walls happen to be) and then stand back. Its A M A Z I N G!


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53 thoughts on “One of the most transformative tricks in the decorating book

  1. Sorry your not feeling so good, hopefully you’ll fell better soon. I totally agree with you re: painting ceiling the same colour as the walls, I feel it helps to cocoon the room and therefore large or small, you can cosy up in it. Loving your example pic!

    • Hi Abigail,
      I have recently signed up to your blog and have to admit I love it! I loved it even more when I found out you were as mad about dogs as I am!
      I’m hoping to purchase a small victorian cottage with my boyfriend in the near future so I’ve decided to start a scrap book of the looks I like so I know how I want to decorate once we’re in. One question. Where do I get the paint, without having to get a loan out?!?

      Any other victorian cottage tips apprectiated!

      • One trick that I have used in the past is to undercoat in a cheaper paint but similar hue, and top coat in the more expensive paint. The thing about expensive paint being so fabulous is the pigment level its way higher so the colour looks more saturated particularly if going dark. It will cut your paint budget down by at least half

  2. I LOVE that picture …. It really does make the room more special! I’m picking up my pot of downpipe 95% shine paint for my kitchen ceiling later today I just ordered it from UK (£88 for 250ml!? am I getting ripped off?). Now I have to quickly paint the ceiling before my other half can stop me :-)
    Hope you feel better soon!

    • It is expensive I hate to say but the pigment in the paint is second to none and so in my book worth every penny. Let me now how it works out

      • I’ve painted the ceiling …. Yay!! It looks soooo nice. The quality of the paint is so good that it didn’t drip at all and it is really glossy. So happy to have closed my ears shut to nay-sayers!!!! Thank you for your encouragement.

  3. I have to tell you Abigail (as I’m beyond excited), as lifelong renters we have finally bought our first home eek! It was built in 1850 so has amazing period features. But we’ve horrified everyone with news of the dark hues we have planned for every room, even our nursery!!! People think we’ve gone potty and that we are “ruining the style” of the house (which currently has zero style ironically!) . I admit to being a big scaredy cat with the whole painting-the-ceiling-thingy but this gorgeous image has convinced me. I think :)
    Thank you for inspiring and converting! x

  4. Dear Abigail, Would you suggest painting the door frames and window frames in the same colour also? Would you use the same type of colour? Often the frames are painted in a glossy paint.. But i would like my walls to be in a matte colour. The bright white against the dark grey I want might look wrong? Any suggestions?

  5. This advice is great timing. I am just about to paint our living room with Farrow & Ball’s dovetail (I know not as dark as you would like but it’s a start). I will do the ceiling too and how about the door and window frame? It’s a large window but north facing. Hope you feel better soon!

  6. What a fantastic room! Great advice! How would you feel this would work in a salon treatment room? I have a small room 2.7 Meters x 2.7 Meters that I am starting to decorate,

    • It would make all the difference in the world to a small treatment room as it will literally make if feel larger than if the ceiling was an alternate hue. Plus you will be the leader of the pack seeing that most other treatment rooms are so dull!

  7. I hope you are feeling better :) I wondered if you have any advise to help me on a small project….. i have brought a vintage glass cabinet (50′s I think). I love it but don’t like the colour of the wood, so am going to attempt to paint it. Do you have some rules/ advise as i am going to do it myself and not sure if there are things i need to do before just painting. Thanks, Hannah

    • You will need to sand and then prime it (the top coat of paint will adhere far better than) and then you just have to select the finish. Eggshell which has a slight but very slight sheen or gloss, and the more off unconventional you can go with the paint colour the more rock starish it will look!

  8. Hiya Abigail I totally agree with you,I have always tried to be creative with my home as i love dark,i painted my ceilings dark but didn’t paint coving or skirting dark kept it light it never seem quite right,then I came across your blog looked at your home and I realised what I had done wrong so out came the paint everything is dark coving dark skirting and doors it has transformed my home,my paintings and furniture stand out more it looks so striking so Thankyou for your inspiration and as you have said before I would recommend anyone to go dark,have a go its only a pot of paint :) xx

  9. First of all, thank you for your inspiring words each morning. Checking on your blog is the first thing I do each day. I leave the house with my head buzzing with excitement and a spring in my step! I have just completed an upholstery course and won a pale pink velvet wing back chair on a certain auction site. I now know that gold fringe ( as in the photo) is the only way to go!! I cannot wait until your book arrives (per-ordered)! I am sure I will be driving my friends and family mad even more than ever, trying to convert them to the dark-side – Abigail-style!

  10. Hi Abigail! I was a serial lurker last year but I’ve finally decided to come out of the closet – so to speak – and to tell you that your blog has been hugely instrumental in helping me begin to articulate how I’d like my home to look and I’m so grateful to you for that.

    One question, though – what finish do you recommend for a textured ceiling before painting it? Thanks!

  11. Oh Abigail – this is truly inspiring! I am shaking a little but the ‘man cave’ back in Melbourne will appreciate this look. Rug up and thank you.

  12. Hi Abigail! I have been enjoying your blog for a while. I totally agree about painting the ceiling the same color. I recently painted the ceilings and wall of my teeny tiny kitchen a pale grey. It actually looks bigger.

  13. I came across an image the other day with a ceiling papered in the same patterned wallpaper as the rest of the room and it was an incredible effect, but perhaps a little too much. Paint is much subtler though and I agree, it does look wonderful. I wonder why we have always left ceilings neutral? I’m staring sadly at mine right now…

    • I think we just don’t think about it, cream or white are the norm so a bit like sheep we all follow. Its only when you cross the line you realise just what you were missing

  14. HAHAHA I’m remembering my husband’s face when I told him I wanted the ceiling the same color as the walls in a room he was painting last year. I wanted my ceiling to look higher. He gave in and it does look wonderful. I just received your book A Girl’s Guide To Decorating today and already love it ~ such fun!

  15. That is my ultimate-favourite-go-to-happy-walls photo. We just bought our first house and the requirements were it had to have high ceilings and my husband needed to learn how to plaster so we could recreate this look in our living room (only with bi-folding doors).

  16. I love the simple use of one colour in the background and the forefront a soft pink..not oo overpowering but still makes a bold statment bringing in the subtle colours in the pics on the wall. Love grey!

  17. Hi Abigail, just visited your store for the first time a couple of days ago. I wanted to live there :) Really liked the area in general have to say.
    I recently moved from an old house with high ceilings and great features to a recently new build appartment (just a square concrete, no charme whatso-ever, but no more neighbour noices:) with low ceilings (245cm) in Amsterdam. The old house I painted many dark colors including the ceiling and loved it. But now I’m a little afraid to go dark let alone paint the ceilings. I picked colors for the walls close to F&B’s blue grey / vert de terre. Would you still recommend painting the low ceilings the same colors?

    Thank you

    • I certainly would if you paint the ceilings the same colour as the walls they won’t feel as low. I love low ceilings embrace them and painting out the space dark will be magical, cosy, sophisticated truly beautiful so if it were me I would do it!

  18. Pingback: Masculine Design Elements - Leftovers, Part 1 - Japanese Trash

  19. Hello!
    I´m a Norwegian girl that is pretty new in the blog- world.
    I was googling “popular english blogs” and found your blog.
    I like it very much!
    I like the idea of painting my living room ceiling in the same color as the walls, but i must say I´m a little reserved about doing that. The color on the walls is 6005-y70r, so it is a pretty dark color. Do you have any experience with painting the ceiling that dark?

    Thank you for sharing such inspiring posts!

    Kind regards Marte

    • Hi Marte, I paint ceilings dark all the time from the darkest black to the darkest grey and it looks amazing so I wouldn’t worry. When you paint a ceiling the same colour as the walls the lines merge and you almost create infinity so the room feels grander, edgier and way more sophisticated than if it were white.

  20. Obsessed with your amazing blog! I am painting my master. I wantusurper dark grey walls. Love Down Pipe, but no where lose or me to buy. Thinking Benamin Moore Steel Wool? Want a great dark grey. I love painted ceilings, however I have 4in white plantation shutters attached in white. If I paint my crown molding the same as walls and ceiling what do I do with window trim and doors? Thanks!!

    • Thank you. Benjamin Moore paints are lovely. If you can’t paint out the blinds and doors leave them white and introduce other white things to your space, a little white table, or lamp, vases etc to take the attention away from the dark grey/white contrast going on. Its certainly not the end of the world having the shutters and doors whites the big trick is just to make sure there are a few other white things to tie it all in. Best of luck with it, not that you need luck sure it will be beautiful

  21. 1. I second your thoughts, Abigail. I have done the same in my house.
    2. Interesting article. We are about to colour our house, and going to try this out. Thanks
    3. In many Asian countries, like India, it is very common to find such houses. It looks amazing!

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