Wood ceiling: to paint or not to paint?

Our contractor thought I had completely lost my mind when I said I wanted to paint EVERYTHING white in our cottage’s main living space. Everything, including the ceiling, walls and all the trim. Some say that painting a cedar ceiling white is a no-no because the wood adds charm and character to a space. But I had other plans for our old cottage, and charming was not what I was going for. So I said: “goodbye cedar, hello white ceiling.”

We had decided it was time for a major renovation on the cottage, so everything including the ceiling was ‘on the table’. The old cedar felt and looked heavy and dark. It seemed to cast an orangey glow over the whole living and dining space. The cottage isn’t very big, and I knew that painting the ceiling white would give the illusion of height, making the space feel bigger and airier.

Unfortunately, because of all the knots and imperfections, the wood wouldn’t take the paint very well. We ended up drywalling over the cedar before painting it all white.

White ceiling
White ceiling

Since we were re-doing the ceiling, we decided to add pot lights throughout and move the electrical for the ceiling fan. Painting the whole thing white was definitely a good idea because it helped tone down the busy-ness above our heads.

Now that the ceiling is white, we can appreciate the focal point right away: the beautiful lake. It’s the reason we bought the cottage in the first place. With the old cedar ceiling, eyes would go to the ceiling first then to the view. Not the preferred order.

White ceiling

The white paint didn’t stop at the ceiling. We carried it through to the walls and painted all the trim white as well.  I know, it sounds like a lot of white, but in this situation it works beautifully.  We use the cottage mainly during the summer months when it’s very hot. Since we didn’t want air conditioning, painting everything white has kept the whole space fresh. It’s also nice and bright. We barely ever need to turn on the lights, which is very different than before when lights needed to be on most of the time, even on sunny days.

I decided to forgo any fancy mouldings, which I felt would break up the flow between the walls and ceiling. The look is seamless and the light flows from floor to walls to ceiling without any visual interruptions. It feels like the cottage is wrapped in a crisp white envelope, allowing for lots of color possibilities with furnishings and accessories.

White ceiling
I have to say that I made the painter’s job very easy. No taping, or very little of it, just bring out the white paint and roll it on everywhere…so to speak. We used the same white throughout, just different finishes for the ceiling (flat), casing (semi-gloss) and walls (eggshell).
White ceiling&walls fireplace


If I had to paint all over again, I’d do it the exact same way. I love how fresh, spacious and bright it looks. Painting a ceiling white is not the answer for all. It depends on the location, the architecture and the ambience you want to create.

If you’d like to see other rooms of the cottage we renovated, have a look at kids’ room, teeny basement bathroomteens’ bunk roommaster bedroomnature inspired bathroom, hallway office.

In the few weeks, I’ll share more room makeovers from the cottage so make sure to come back to visit.

Now that you’ve read this, how do you feel about painting a ceiling, walls and trim white?

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