15 Tray Ceiling Paint Ideas That Really Shine

A tray ceiling can be a beautiful design feature in any room. The recessed center and decorative trim create visual interest and give rooms a polished, upscale look. When it comes to paint ideas for tray ceilings, the possibilities are endless! From simple white to vivid colors, there are many ways to make your tray ceiling really stand out.

We’ve gathered 15 gorgeous tray ceiling paint ideas to inspire you. Whether you want something subtle or bold, modern or traditional, you’re sure to find a look you love for your home’s vaulted ceilings. Read on for stunning ways to use paint to highlight your architectural details and bring out the beauty of your tray ceiling.

Complementary Tones for Seamless Style

One approach for painting a tray ceiling is to use complementary tones that seamlessly blend with the rest of the room’s color scheme. The recessed panel will stand out subtly, providing definition without drastic contrast.

Soft Greys

Grey is an enduringly popular neutral shade for homes. For the tray, consider going just slightly darker or lighter than the wall color. If the walls are a pale grey, try a frosty mid-tone grey overhead. This will delineate the architectural shape while maintaining a cohesive look.

Benjamin Moore’s Stonington Gray is a great go-to greige that works with all decor styles from modern to traditional. Pair it with a lighter tone like Gray Owl above for a crisp yet soothing vibe.

Warm and Inviting

Bring warmth to a space by using different shades of whites, creams, and tans. Try Benjamin Moore’s ultra-soft White Dove on walls with a rich cream like Crème de la Crème overhead. You’ll get definition along with a relaxed elegance.

To really amplify the effect, add molding around the edges of the ceiling recess. This frames the panel for even more noticeable contrast and dimension.

Crisp yet Calm

For a bright and clean look, white on white is always right. Use varying sheens, like matte walls and a semi-gloss ceiling, to delineate the shapes while maintaining harmony.

Benjamin Moore’s popular simply white is a foolproof neutral that works for any design style. Or go super contemporary with their brightest white, Chantilly Lace. The possibilities here are endless!

Sophisticated Color Combos

Beyond simple tonal variation, don’t be afraid to get creative with true color in your tray ceiling paint ideas. Deep hues and striking contrasts can really make this architectural element pop.

Moody Blues

From navy to sky blue, rich shades of blue lend an elegant and enveloping feel to a room. Light blue walls balance airiness with the cozy warmth of a deeper midnight or marine blue overhead.

Benjamin Moore’s Hale Navy creates dramatic contrast against almost-black walls in this bedroom. Lighter blues give a similar effect for a more relaxing mood.

Regal Purple

Purple might seem intimidating, but it adds a royal touch in the right space. Pair sprightly lilac walls with a deep eggplant or wine-hued ceiling for a luxurious statement.

Sherwin Williams’ Roycroft Pewter gives off a sense of restrained grandeur when combined with a bold overhead color like their Eggplant or Spiced Plum.

Vintage Accent

You can also draw from retro color trends like mustard yellow or avocado green for a fun, nostalgic feel. These colors bridge old and new for a contemporary yet timeless look.

A safety yellow like Benjamin Moore’s Top Coat sets off a dark green tray ceiling like Spruce Green. This bold yet classy 60s-70s inspired palette packs visual impact.

The Perfect White Tray Ceiling

Crisp, bright white is another ever-popular tray ceiling choice. White reflects light and makes rooms feel more open and airy. When done right, an all-white ceiling recess becomes an understated focal point.

Choosing White Paint

With white, the details matter. You’ll want an ultra-pure nuance without yellow or grey undertones. Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace is a perennial favorite white with just a hint of coolness to brighten spaces.

For a true and brilliant white, look to Sherwin Williams’ High Reflective White. It offers unmatched light reflection thanks to an unrivaled 94% reflectance rating. Pure White is another top choice with a blueish tinge that enhances the crispness.

Lighting Is Key

Proper illumination ensures an all-white tray ceiling looks its best. Use lighting techniques like recessed LED cans on dimmers and wall sconces to graze the edges of the ceiling. This highlights the architectural form through dramatic shadow effects.

Extra Touches

Molding, two-tone paint techniques, or medallions can augment a basic white tray ceiling. Consider a thin navy blueborder or gold leaf edges on the recessed panel. Details like these make ordinary white into something special.

Modern Paint Ideas

Tray ceilings work wonderfully in modern, minimalist homes. Streamlined shapes and bold colors keep things fresh and contemporary.

Black Lacquer

For serious drama, paint the recess black! Matte-finish black has a luxe, cutting-edge vibe. Contrast it with bright white walls and sleek decor. This striking combo is ideal for modern living rooms and bedrooms.

Benjamin Moore’s Onyx is an inky true black. For a slightly softer alternative, Black Panther has a hint of warmth. No matter what, paint the edges crisp for clean lines.

Metallic Sheen

Modern glam awaits with the addition of metallic paints. Consider a silver, gold, or copper leaf finish on the tray ceiling to amp up the glitz factor. Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams offer gorgeous metallic paint collections to give a sleek art-deco edge to rooms.

A bright silver like Rushing Silver leaf plays well off of cool greys and whites. For living rooms and sitting areas go for an inviting rose gold or champagne luminescence overhead.

Painted Wood Beams

Another way to make a tray ceiling stand out is by incorporating faux wood beams. These can create fun contrasts against painted plaster.

Rustic Touches

Paint wooden beams in natural hues for a cozy, countryside vibe. Soft cream beams pop against a light sky blue ceiling. Or go for deeper brown beams on white for a more striking cottage look.

Go Bold

Painted wood beams let you get creative. Try vibrant red or navy beams over a neutral plaster tray ceiling field. Thin black faux beams add modern edge against an upbeat lemon yellow or pink recess.

Get funky with contrasting beam and ceiling colors like emerald green, brick red, or royal purple. The tray shape lends itself perfectly to making the beams a focal decorative element.

Frequently Asked Questions About Tray Ceiling Paint Ideas

What colors look best for a tray ceiling?

Tray ceilings look great in almost any color. Popular options include white, off-white, light grey, navy, black, metallic finishes, and complementary tones a few shades darker or lighter than the walls. Bold and striking colors work wonderfully to make the recessed panel stand out.

How do you highlight a tray ceiling?

Use lighting techniques like recessed cans and wall sconces to graze the edges and cast dramatic shadows. Contrasting paint colors will make the architectural shape prominent. Details like decorative molding frames or two-tone faux beams can further accentuate the ceiling.

Should you paint a tray ceiling the same color as the walls?

Painting a tray ceiling the exact same color as the walls can make it seem to disappear rather than stand out. Some differentiation in tone and sheen is best for defining the space. However, colors that are similar or complementary can help it seem cohesive rather than jarring.

Can you paint a tray ceiling dark?

Definitely! A dark color like navy, charcoal, black, or eggplant overhead looks elegant and luxe. Deep tones recede visually, making rooms feel cozy and intimate. Just ensure proper lighting so the space doesn’t feel too dark and enclosed.

Should crown molding match the ceiling or walls?

This depends on personal preference, but matching or slightly darker crown molding helps accentuate the transition between wall and ceiling. Choose a paint sheen on molding different than the adjacent surfaces so it noticeably contrasts.

Achieve Gorgeous Painted Tray Ceilings

The tray ceiling in your home presents an excellent opportunity to use paint to stylishly amplify your interior architecture. Whether you prefer a subtle tone-on-tone look or bold colors, the ideas here will inspire you to make the most of this beautiful design feature.

With the right colors and lighting, your new painted tray ceiling is sure to become a conversation piece that wows your guests. Showcase your personal style and highlight the architectural shapes in any room. A coat of fresh paint is an easy yet dramatic way to give your home’s decor an elevated, upscale feel.