What color should a ceiling be in a small living room? Designers weigh in

Wondering what shade to paint your small living area ceiling? Here's expert advice on choosing the right one

A small living room with a couch, window, shelving, and a white ceiling
(Image credit: @highboyla)

“What color should a ceiling be in a small living room?” is a question you might be asking yourself if you’re repainting your home. While you might not spend a lot of time looking up, the ceiling can completely affect how your living area feels. 

If your landlord allows you to paint or you’ve just moved into your own place, the ceiling is the best place to start painting in a small living room. This is just in case you end up splashing on your walls. Getting it right the first time will stop you from having to go over your whole living area again.

Looking through small living room ideas, and thinking making the ceiling look smart and stylish is a good call? I’ve spoken to design experts to find out what color it should be, so you can start decorating ASAP.

Everything you need to know about small living room ceiling color

If you want to know the best paint colors for your small living room and are starting with re-decorating your ceiling, I’ve found out all the info you need. 

These are the colors a small living room ceiling should be

A white living room with cream and brown furniture and black blinds

(Image credit: @aloftlife_)

When choosing a color for a small living room, it’s a clever idea to pick one that will make your small space look bright and airy. “Lighter ceilings have the knack for making a room breathe,” explains Artem Kropovinsky, interior designer and founder of Arsight.

Artem Kropovinsky
Artem Kropovinsky

Artem Kropovinsky is an interior design expert and founder of Arsight, an award-winning interior design studio based in New York.

In terms of specific shades, there are a few you can look for. “Shades like soft whites, light grays, and pastels create an illusion of spaciousness by reflecting more light, making the room feel open and airy,” says Ben Gold, interior design expert and founder of Recommended Home Buyers. Ceiling color is an important factor when lightening up a small living room. Light gray especially is a great shade for making a small space feel bigger.

Whichever shade you go for, be sure to paint a sample of these near the light source in your living room to see how they work in the space, before going all out. 

Ben Gold

Ben Gold is the founder of Recommended Home Buyers and an interior design expert with a deep understanding of creating visually appealing spaces. He has an extensive background in the real estate industry.

If you want to embrace the cozy vibes of your small living room, you might want to opt for something darker. “A dark ceiling can make a space feel inviting without appearing smaller,” says Mohammad Ahmed, interior designer and founder of The Home Guidance. He suggests doing this with a monochromatic palette. “Painting the ceiling the same color as the walls can also expand the perceived space.”

A picture of Mohammad Ahmed in a brown suit
Mohammad Ahmed

Mohammad Ahmed is an interior designer and home expert. He did his bachelors degree in interior design at the University of Minnesota in 2013 and since then has worked as an interior designer in various companies, designing functional and beautiful spaces for clients.

Other factors to consider when choosing a color for a small living room ceiling

A small living room with plants, a blue rug, wooden furniture, and a TV

(Image credit: @highboyla)

As well as picking a color that will make your small living room feel cozy or more open depending on preference, you should also consider the surroundings. “To maintain a cohesive look, consider matching the ceiling color with the walls or choosing a slightly lighter shade,” says Kropovinsky. This minimizes contrast, giving the appearance of a continuous flow and, in turn, enhances the perception of space.

He also suggests adding strategic accents on the ceiling to draw the eye upwards, to complement the ceiling color. “While neutral colors are excellent choices, don't hesitate to add strategic accents like subtle patterns or a hint of color to draw the eye upward, adding depth and interest to the room.” This could be with a subtle polka-dot pattern in pastel shades or even with bold shapes like stars and triangles in bright colors.

3 ceiling paint colors for small living rooms

Want to get your living room ceiling’s color right? Follow our experts’ advice with these pretty picks.

The prices below were correct at the time of publishing this article.


What is the best color for a small living room ceiling?

If you want to make your small living room look bigger, choose a light color like white, beige, or light gray. Or, if you want your small living room to look cozier, darker shades like dark brown and navy will look great on your ceiling. 

What color will make a small living room ceiling look bigger?

White will make a small living room look bigger because its bright color will help reflect light.

Now you know what colors you should be using in your small living room, you might be wondering what ones to avoid. These are the worst colors for small spaces, according to design experts. 

Eve Smallman
Content Editor

Hi there! I’m a content editor at Real Homes. I've been a lifestyle journalist for over five years, previously working as an editor across regional magazines. Before this, I graduated from Nottingham Trent University a degree in journalism, along with an NCTJ gold diploma. I love running, decorating my rented Victorian home, and discovering new cheeses. For Real Homes, I specialize in interior design, trends and finding the best viral buys.