You may have noticed a trend of painting ceilings and walls the same color in interior design lately. It’s a phenomenon that has come to be known as “color soaking”—painting the ceiling and all four walls in exactly the same shade.
It has undoubtedly become one of the biggest paint ideas of the moment, used in homes all over the world and encompassing all kinds of interior styles.
But the question remains: should I paint my ceilings and walls the same color? To find out exactly what effect the color-infused trend is having on your space, we asked designers and paint experts for advice. Plus, we’ve collected some excellent examples of how to color a room to great effect.
Do you have to paint ceilings and walls the same color in every room?
To understand whether you should paint ceilings and walls the same color, you must first understand the effect this has on the space. Color infusion works in a number of ways, not only for the overall mood of a space, but also for tricks with the proportions of a room.
“Painting the walls, woodwork and ceiling the same color is a great way to create a cohesive atmosphere in a space, creating both depth and harmony,” explains Kathrine Errboe of Danish paint brand File Under Pop. . (opens in new tab)† “It ties the room together and creates a calm canvas for other elements.” That’s why color-infused rooms feel modern and fresh – they have a minimalism that gives even spaces with traditional features a contemporary look.
Painting the ceiling the same color as the walls can also make a small room look bigger, especially in rooms with low ceilings. It works to blur the lines between walls and ceiling, giving the feeling that the ceiling is higher as well as the walls being further away. Yet there is also something cocooning about choosing this one-tone look.
You may also find that transitioning between different colored walls and ceilings feels a little awkward, especially in a room without crown molding. This idea helps to blend the lines.
There isn’t necessarily one type of room for which color drenching should be used, but you may be wondering if a room would benefit from a different color on the ceiling and walls. Would you like a contrast to draw the eye to a striking ceiling, for example, or would a tonal color complement the scheme more?
Either way, interior trends see plain white ceilings on the outside, so why not try soaking in the color when decorating your next room? Here, designers and paint experts explain how to get the look right.
1. Use color bath in a small room
Many home decorators cling to the idea that a white ceiling means a brighter space that feels larger, but in fact introducing a different color on the ceiling can only serve to emphasize the proportions of a small room.
“The idea of ’drenching’ a room, especially a small space, is brilliantly bold and hugely effective at making a space feel larger, seamless and contemporary,” says interior designer Lizzie Green. (opens in new tab)† Packed with storage space, this tiny home office can feel claustrophobic, but choosing one color makes the space feel calm and relaxing. “The Red Earth shade used here is wonderfully cozy and inviting in this small study space in a Georgian home,” adds Lizzie.
2. Paint walls and ceiling the same color to divide a room
If you don’t want to decorate the entire space and just want to create a zoned area, such as a home office, think carefully about your existing palette.
“Accentuate a zoned space by drenching in color, including across the ceiling for a dramatic design feature,” says Ruth Mottershead, creative director at paint brand Little Greene (opens in new tab)† “A contrasting color will clearly delineate an area, creating focus and design interest, while a more subtle color change, such as using the same shade in a lighter or darker shade, will create a more harmonious transition.”
“It’s important to think about how you use the larger space, a bold, vibrant zone works fantastically well in a kitchen, dining room or living space,” suggests Ruth, “while a more muted and calming approach will create tranquility for a relaxing bedroom.’
3. Add moldings, doors and trim and more to your color-soaked look
When painting the ceiling and walls, the same color can count as color infusion, as a true monochromatic color scheme includes the other architectural elements of your room.
In this space, created by interior studio Collective Works (opens in new tab), the color-infused idea takes it one step further, not just with the doors and crown molding, but even with furnishings that play up to the tonal look. “The ceiling, walls, cornice and doors are clad in the same color, creating a comforting cave,” said Siri Zanelli, founder of Collective Works. “This room gives you a welcome hug when you walk into it.”
4. Or experiment with contrasts
When painting over moldings, doors and architectural moldings, they are much less about the visual structure of your room, but more about introducing texture into the space. For a bold, ornate feature, this might help modernize the look, but you can still opt for a modern, color-infused idea without painting every surface the same color.
In this space designed by the Scandinavian design brand Note Design Studio (opens in new tab)has retained a contrasting idea for the door trim, highlighting it as a beautiful architectural element, but also framing the transition to the next room, a children’s room that uses a similar yellow palette.
5. Shift tonal from room to room
While you may only want to water one room in a certain color, it’s important that your home still feels cohesive. Where different paint tones may have helped create a continuous line in your space, why not try this tonal decorating idea by drenching adjacent rooms in similar shades?
“The dark Scandinavian winters mean homeowners spend a lot of time indoors,” says interior designer Hanne Gathe of Dactylion Design of this stylish blue-infused space. This apartment has a moody color scheme that gives a cozy warm feel, from gray to blue and green. †
“The couch is in an emerald green that picks up the blues, contrasts it, but doesn’t stand out. The end result is striking, but calm and cosy’, adds Hanne.
In the kitchen, a darker blue demarcates the two spaces, yet flows comfortably between them.
6. Or go for bold contrasts
Alternatively, choosing bold different colors to imbue adjacent rooms can create an unexpected, invigorating effect.
This home office created by interior design studio Lala Reimagined (opens in new tab) contrasts a vibrant electric blue, Farrow & Ball’s Vardo, with a rich, warm terracotta in the adjacent den.
Is it easier to paint the ceilings and walls the same color?
Another benefit of embracing this trend? It is much easier when it comes to painting a room. You don’t need to “cut” around the ceiling when painting your room, as long as you use the same paint color and finish.
If you are color drenched around doors and trim, keep in mind that an eggshell or satin should be used for woodwork to ensure it is durable, and this difference in finish between the wall’s matte emulsion may show through if you are not careful when painting these elements separately. Of course, they will show far fewer mistakes than painting a contrasting color for decorations.