15 Tray Ceiling Paint Ideas That Really Shine

tray ceiling

Britt Design Studio

Tray ceilings are absolutely beautiful, and if you're fortunate enough to have one in your home, by all means, take advantage of it. Some designers view tray ceilings as a moment to let ornate light fixtures do the talking, while others see them as an opportunity to go bold with paint.

No matter which direction you're headed, you'll certainly want to take a look at the 15 gorgeous tray ceilings below.

  • 01 of 15

    Say Yay to Gray

    tray ceiling in bedroom

    Shoshanna Shapiro

    Designer Shoshanna Shapiro used Sherwin-Williams Agreeable Gray for this tray ceiling. "The basic rule of thumb is to paint the vertical areas with the wall color and the horizontal areas in the ceiling color," she comments.

    She offers specific guidance for those who plan to incorporate a statement-making light fixture into such a space. "If you want the lighting fixture to be the focal point, do not add too much texture or detail in the box-up feature."

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  • 02 of 15

    Or Play With Color

    tray ceilings

    Britt Design Studio

    Don't be afraid to have a little fun with color on your tray ceiling.

    "This is a great opportunity to have some fun and add a layer of personality to the space," Shapiro notes. "Clients may worry that it will make the ceiling feel lower when you dress it, but it does the opposite. The more layers you wrap the room with, the more the elements come alive and the grander the room will become."


    There are several ways to add color to a tray ceiling, but if you do have existing wood beams, start by staining the wood a darker hue.

    Continue to 3 of 15 below.
  • 03 of 15

    Incorporate Some Deeper Tones

    tray ceilings

    Julian Design

    Lacy Hughes of Julian Design agrees that deeper colors help define a tray ceiling and make it pop.

    "If you're going to add the added layer and charm of a tray ceiling into your room, then you should play it up with paint," she says. "Think about adding a darker contrasting color to the tray ceiling to make it a focal point of the room, while still working cohesively with your overall color palette." 

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  • 04 of 15

    Get Earthy

    tray ceilings

    Julian Design

    This tray dining room ceiling, also by Julian Design, brings an additional earthy touch into the space and complements the patterned wallpaper.

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  • 05 of 15

    Pair a Colored Wall With a White Ceiling

    tray ceiling

    Ashley Montgomery Design

    Tray ceilings may even make an appearance in the bathroom. They're an excellent way to add architectural flair to any room of the house. A white ceiling paired with a deep sage wall = total relaxation.

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  • 06 of 15

    Keep It Nice and Fresh

    tray ceilings

    Jane Beiles for Georgia Zikas

    “Given the amount of architectural detail and structure a tray ceiling can bring into a room, I find that keeping the paint color a neutral white or ivory is the best way to go," designer Georgia Zikas shares. "This way, you let the details stand out and speak for themselves while allowing the design in the rest of the room to do the real talking." 

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  • 07 of 15

    Make a Space Feel Airy

    tray ceilings

    Viola Interior Design

    Designer Sherry Hayslip believes that tray ceilings should embody a lighter color to provoke a sense of airiness, providing the illusion that the ceiling is further away, as if it is floating.

    "The real power is in the lighting," she adds. "It is critical to add light that shines both up and down to ensure the feature does not get lost. For a more dramatic look, I will use gold leaf or something equally posh and eye-catching."

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  • 08 of 15

    Or Go Dark

    tray ceiling

    Tyler Karu

    On the other hand, designer Jessica Davis loves using tray ceilings as an opportunity to work with dark paint.

    "A tray ceiling provides the illusion of an overall taller ceiling height and delivers depth and interest," she says. "I love to go really dark on tray ceilings, like with Sherwin-Williams' Black Fox."

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  • 09 of 15

    Let Lighting Have its Moment

    tray ceilings

    Viola Interior Design

    Here, a showstopping light fixture makes its presence known in a room with a light colored tray ceiling.

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  • 10 of 15

    Be Nice and Neutral

    tray ceilings

    Interior Impressions

    An expansive tray ceiling stands out in this large great room. The neutral paint colors complement the subdued furnishings perfectly.

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  • 11 of 15

    Keep it Contemporary

    tray ceilings

    Ashley Montgomery Design

    A tray ceiling adds depth and visual interest to this contemporary kitchen.

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  • 12 of 15

    Get Crisp in the Kitchen

    tray ceilings

    Britt Design Studio

    A white tray ceiling plays up the crispness of this modern yet warm kitchen, which is infused with a few thoughtful traditional elements.

    Continue to 13 of 15 below.
  • 13 of 15

    Let Natural Wood Shine

    tray ceilings

    Britt Design Studio

    Natural wood is warm and welcoming on the tray ceiling in this spacious entryway.

    Continue to 14 of 15 below.
  • 14 of 15

    Match the Mantel

    tray ceilings

    Britt Design Studio

    Painting your tray ceiling the same color as your fireplace, as is the case in this grand family room, allows for cohesion and continuity.

    Continue to 15 of 15 below.
  • 15 of 15

    Wallpaper It

    wallpapered ceiling

    Mindy Briar for The Finish

    Perhaps you don't wish to paint your tray ceiling at all and would rather let wallpaper do the talking! A subtle gray is classic and adds fun texture to this stylish space.