How to Play Off Your Ceiling's Potential in Your Great Room

calander Mar 20 , 2021 user-icon Nash Painting

The concept of a large, open, central room that serves multiple functions has been around for ages, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that the “great room” rose to prominence in American homes. These multipurpose spaces can be configured in a number of ways, but they all share one thing common: high ceilings. Indeed, unlike a traditional living room, a great room typically utilizes two stories, featuring raised (often “cathedral”) ceilings. In addition to having high ceilings, great rooms are also horizontally-advantaged. Whereas traditional homes feature walls between different rooms (i.e. living room, dining room, kitchen), homes donning great rooms blur the line between these disparate functional spaces. In most cases, a great room is a hybrid between living space, kitchen, study, and dining room.

As elegant as great rooms are, however, they can pose unique problems when it comes to home interior painting. For one thing, reaching the upper portions of those tall walls can be challenging and dangerous, requiring sturdy ladders and extension poles -- painting the ceiling is another potential nightmare altogether. Practical concerns notwithstanding, choosing colors and making design choices for your great room requires even more attention than doing so for standard, smaller spaces. After all, your great room should simultaneously act as one cohesive space and a multipurpose room (with lots of surface area and potential). The possibilities are virtually endless, but even small details can make all the difference in how your great room looks and feels.

With all that in mind, here’s our advice for playing off your ceiling’s potential in your great room.

Make a Large Space Even Larger with Matching Walls and Ceilings

Should you paint walls and ceilings the same color? It’s a question that many homeowners ask themselves and painting professionals in preparation for their next project. Of course, such a subjective question warrants a subjective response: it depends. Painting your ceiling and walls the same color has certain implications that may or may not be desirable depending on your goals. If, for instance, you want to make your great room appear even grander than it already does, you might decide to stick with a single color for all four walls and the ceiling. Simply put, going this route reduces the visible separation between the surfaces surrounding you and the one overhead, streamlining the space and making it appear larger, even though it’s the same size as before.

It’s worth noting that the color and shade you choose matters in this regard, though. Darker colors naturally shrink a space while lighter colors expand it. In other words, merely painting your great room all one color isn’t guaranteed to make it feel bigger and more open -- going with white and other light shades, on the other hand, will accomplish this goal. Even if you decide to paint your walls a different color from your ceiling, going with a lighter shade for your ceiling will also visually raise its height.

Bring Your Great Room Down to Earth with Lighter Walls

On the other hand, you might wish to “lower” your great room’s ceiling, especially if your space feels too empty and open. The easiest way to do this without actually installing a lower ceiling and altering your great room’s layout is to paint your ceiling a darker color or shade than the surrounding walls. The same visual illusion described above is at play here, just in reverse. When your walls are a lighter shade than your ceiling, the horizontal space will feel larger, while the vertical space will appear closer and tighter. In a large space like a great room, this difference between ceiling paint and wall paint colors might only result in a subtle change overall, but it might be enough to achieve the atmosphere you desire.

Add an Accent Wall for Intrigue and Connection

You can play off your great room’s ceiling with paint colors in other ways, too. Rather than focus on the distinction between wall and ceiling colors as a whole, you might apply a contrasting color or texture for one of your walls to establish a focal point and distinguish one area of your great room as the main area. This technique is known as accenting, and accent walls are becoming increasingly popular in homes of all kinds. If you want to involve your ceiling in this process, you might have your accent wall match your ceiling’s color and leave the other walls alone. In doing so, you’ll create a direct line from your great room’s ceiling to a particular portion of the room, making that wall appear special and dynamic. There are so many ways to play with accented walls and ceilings -- if you’re having trouble determining how to select interior paint colors for these surfaces, professional painters and designers can help.

Lights and Decorative Fixtures Can Separate Spaces in Your Great Room

Putting paint aside, you can get a lot out of your great room’s ceiling with certain light installations and other decorative features. You might, for instance, implement a large chandelier in the center of your great room and set up smaller, more focused lights above your kitchen area, dining space, etc. Ceiling fans are other common installations that give a great room greater character while adding functionality. Wooden beams can also be used to shape and accent a room and inform its various purposes.

Natural Lighting Can Make Your Room Even Greater

The wide open spaces afforded by great rooms are just begging to be illuminated by natural lighting. While large, modern windows can provide all the daylight you desire, consider installing skylights in your great room’s ceilings to bring additional light in from above. These overhead windows are perfect for vaulted ceilings, providing angled sunlight in key areas of your home.

Base Your Room’s Layout on Your Ceiling’s Shape

There’s no denying that your ceiling’s color and fixtures can go a long way toward unlocking your great room’s full potential, but so can its shape. Many great rooms feature vaulted ceilings, which are lower toward the edges of your room and higher toward the center. Using your ceiling’s natural shape can inform how you separate the various sub-spaces in your great room. You might, for instance, set up your living section in the middle of the room where there is the most overhead space and natural light, and have your study, kitchen, and dining areas at different corners of the room where things are a bit more closed in and cozy. There are no hard and fast rules for organizing your great room, of course, but taking your ceiling’s shape into account can be a major help.

Turning a Good Room into a Great Room

Your ceiling might be the last surface you think of when it comes to residential interior painting or design, but neglecting this area can cause you to miss out on prime aesthetic opportunities, especially for your great room. Making careful color, design, lighting, and layout choices for your great room’s ceiling can elevate your entire home. At Nash Painting, we’ve made great rooms greater than ever in homes across Nashville, Brentwood, and Franklin, TN. To learn more about us, our services, and our values, call us at 615-829-6858 today!