Mad About . . .

Beautiful Rooms: Don’t forget the ceiling

16th November 2020
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Starting this week at the top, literally, with some picture of fabulous ceilings – aka the fifth wall. Not to be forgotten. Not to be swathed in white just because that’s what one always does. So I hope these will give you inspiration and ideas and maybe tease out a little bit of bold. For, as someone said, a strong colour on the walls might be too much, but putting your favourite colour on the ceiling and inhaling a burst of energy every time you look up can only be a good thing. And this pink delight below belongs to Emma Jane Palin, an interior stylist, art consultant and blogger and, crucially, an expert on all things rental decor.

pink ceiling (delilah by earthborn) by Emma Jane Palin - expert on rental accommodation

pink ceiling (delilah by earthborn) and beige walls (donkey ride) by Emma Jane Palin – an expert on rental accommodation

So for those of you who rent, or who have children who rent or, even those first time buyers who might not have the budget to change big things, do follow Emma either on instagram or her blog for advice and ideas on what you can do. In this room above, the landlord gave permission for the changes and she will paint the pink back to something more neutral when she leaves. Have a look also at her bedroom makeover and the fireplace in the sitting room too for ideas.

And this delicious pink, by the way, is called Delilah from Earthborn Paints, which are water-based, eco-friendly and breathable. Not for nothing is the company included my Do Less Harm Directory and they were also awarded the first UK licence of the EU Ecolabel for Indoor Paints and Varnishes. The walls, by the way, are Donkey Ride, also by Earthborn.

green kitchen by huntsmore design image by snook photograph

green kitchen by huntsmore design image by  chris snook cupboards in pompeian ash by little greene

Staying with ceilings and this kitchen above harnesses the power of green with a greyish version on the cupboards (Pompeian Ash by Little Greene) and a a bolder version on the ceiling – same principle as above. You don’t always look up but when you do make it wow. The designers have chosen to link the two greens with pieces in brighter toning shades on the shelves but this would also be a great moment for a disrupter colour. Pink, for example or orange.

Below, while a publicity shot for the Mandarin Stone tiles (and yes you can mix shape and size and colour) this shows you the job of colour blocking. Again, this is something that is talked about a lot in fashion when it comes to clothes (Michelle Obama was a fan) but we don’t tend to reference it as much in interiors. Here the green floor tiles tie into the green painted shutters, while the back wall and towle are in a soft greenish grey. The soft gold ceiling links to the just seen (possibly ply) bench in the corner while the bath brings it all together in a contrast.

image via mandarine stone official

image via mandarin stonel featuring their stellar green hexagon tiles

If this it too much for you it’s easy to swap out one of the colours or change the proportions. Paint the back wall a paler version of the bath (or tile it) or bring the ceiling colour down over the wall. Take the idea and play with it until you find something that would work for you.

And you can see that below where the ceiling is a soft yellow, the walls are pale pink and the coving is emerald green. Yes, this will outline the shape of the room but when the colours are this pretty together why not? The colours are deepened in the brass light fittings and artwork and this is a perfect example of why a slash of black and white stripes works anywhere and cuts through any pastel sweetness. Once again, you might want to play with the colour proportions; imagine dark blue walls, a mid blue cornice and a pale blue or soft orange ceiling. Or shades of green. It’s all up to you, all I am aiming to do here is show you possibilities and get you to think a little more deeply about what works for you. And if the answer really is that white works for you all over and in every room then at least you will know that you thought about it and reached an opinion rather than just reaching for a comfortable tradition.

les deux gares hotel in paris designed by luke edward hall image by benoit linero

les deux gares hotel in paris designed by luke edward hall image by benoit lineroFinishing (almost) not with paint but with texture. These are copper tiles. Many of you will know that I have tin tiles on my kitchen ceiling which we left the natural tin colour but they were originally designed to be painted to look like expensive plasterwork. The metallic sheen will bounce the light around and make the room feel more luxurious. If you don’t want to add tiles or are nervous about a strong colour on the ceiling consider, at the least, using an eggshell or gloss paint which will have the same effect and bounce the light around.

copper ceiling via thebrickbox with wallpaper from divine savages

copper ceiling via @thebrickbox with wallpaper from divine savages

Finally, no I know it’s not a ceiling but I couldn’t resist, and it’s also a great way with colour, this stool. You can see that the walls and all the woodwork (including the door) have been painted in the same soft pale pink and the stool, rather than being a disrupter colour, is the wall shade taken to extreme and it has the same effect as a disrupter colour but instead of constrasting or clashing it remains within the same palette. If you’re frightened of high contrast this is a great way to go. And a stool is small too so it’s easy to change. Tip: If you’re painting a chair or stool (or even a small table) bang nails halfway into the feet so you can paint all the way down to the bottom without sticking it to the newspaper or floor. Once dry you can remove the nails.

colour blocking via les filles des fleurs image by anneline bakken

colour blocking via les filles des fleurs image by anneline bakken

So there you have it. I hope you have enjoyed today’s stroll through some beautiful rooms and will feel inspired for your own spaces.


Yellow painted bathroom ceiling with pink bath and grey hexagonal floor tiles

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  • Anna 17th November 2020 at 3:53 pm

    Great post. I would add that I have learnt from Nina Campbell that if your sitting room has a low ceiling, painting it with gloss paint removes the drabness from the room when the weather is dull outside, which it often is! (Mine is white).

  • Jamie 17th November 2020 at 6:01 am

    I really wanted to like those ceilings but my heart said no, no, no… not attractive at all.

  • Leah S.G. 16th November 2020 at 7:15 pm

    I am new to this site thanks to a search on how to do a half-painted wall for the master bedroom. An excellent post from back in 2018 made for practical advice and it came out great. I am glad to read that my instinct of not going for white on the ceiling was correct! My colours were all based around a vintage bench and the oatmeal (ceiling and top of walls), light green(3 walls) and dark green (feature wall) makes for a striking look. Looking forward to more ideas since the living room is next!

  • Elizabeth 16th November 2020 at 5:56 pm

    Thank you!!! Love these photos!!!

  • Ellen Reed 16th November 2020 at 12:33 pm

    I love when you share about the 5th wall. Inspiring. I also love it when I find examples of your inspiration.
    It seems that, as with all things decorative, it can run from BOLD to subtle.
    Check this house out in Charleston SC, USA

  • Ally 16th November 2020 at 10:53 am

    Thanks for the inspiration Kate, I absolutely adore those copper tiles. We are in the process of renovating a Victorian terrace and I have braced myself and gone for it in the front room. We have painted the ceiling in Studio Green by Farrow & Ball, with F&B Hay on the walls and the panelling, coving, ceiling rose and skirting picked out in F&B Lime White. The decorator thinks I have lost my marbles and the teenagers think it looks like an old people’s home! I am trusting my instincts though and think it will look great once we have moved in and got furniture and accessories in. Got to be more dramatic than plain old white anyway!

  • Vicky Wilford 16th November 2020 at 10:28 am

    Hi Kate
    Thank you for another fab post! I just love these colours. We are currently re doing our kitchen (north facing) from grey (totally wrong and made it feel like an arctic winter all year round) to creams, greens and pinks. We are thinking of painting double doors going through the lounge a high contrast pink – do you know what colour the bath is in the lovely green, pink & yellow bathroom shot? Thank you 😊

  • Pia 16th November 2020 at 9:01 am

    Bold colors together is so fun and so much more Sophie than you. It might be as you stated in the pod that the two of you are switching personalities 🙂 I found your blog through the pod and really enjoy your writing! Thank you!

    I would like to see some ideas and tips on how to match different wallpapers together. Not just one wallpaper with one or two colors. I am thinking when doors are open to other rooms. Or is that not done? I have only seen some examples but then it feels a bit to granny matchy-matchy or is that necessary to be cohesive? Isn’t it enough to use the same hue of the colors in the same tight color palette and really different size of pattern or different pattern? I would really love some inspiration!

    Thank you for your great work!

  • Silvia 16th November 2020 at 8:46 am

    Thank you for the beautiful Monday inspiration. As for your last tip, on banging nails under furniture when painting it, I’d say if the legs are thin or old, one can easily split the wood. That’s why I use painter’s pyramid stands, available everywhere. Thanks again for the post

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 16th November 2020 at 9:16 am

      excellent tip – I have linked here (warning is Amazon in case you don’t want to buy from there but for illustrative purposes at least)

  • Eileen Mahoney 16th November 2020 at 8:03 am

    What lovely pictures! hopefully it’ll make it easier for my stubborn husband to consider anything other than white on the ceiling! That said, did the full thinking-through for our newly-Artex-stripped-&-re-plastered kitchen/diner ceiling and ended up choosing the same eggshell white as our walls & skirting – so our previously pokey, light deprived room feels more expansive and literally glows. What are your thoughts on painting Artex ceilings? Hard to remove once furniture is in (and lockdown is on) so trying to make the best. I experimented with a matte navy ceiling against olive eggshell walls & skirting in our tiny dim powder room…and now it actually seems to fade into the background.

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 16th November 2020 at 9:24 am

      The more matte the more it will cover lumps and bumps. Gloss is great for bouncing light around but it will catch and show every imperfection so you were right to go with a super flat non reflective surface. We have woodchip ceilings in the bedroom and worried that pulling them down would necessitate new ceilings so we painted in flat matt and that, coupled with the fact that we both wear glasses but not in bed, means we really don’t notice!

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