Interior Details: Gloss White Ceilings

Often when people come to our house, they comment that we have high ceilings.  I think our ceilings may be slightly taller than what you typically see around the small, old bungalows/cottages in our neighborhood, but I think our ceiling height may also be an illusion.  When we moved in our home last year, we had the ceilings and trim freshly painted.  We had a few ceilings painted in a white GLOSS finish.  It's not uncommon to see ceilings with beautiful, rich colors painted in a high gloss finish (and that's a detail I love for an entirely different post!) but it's rare to see white ceilings in a gloss finish.  People typically tend to stick to their standard matte ceiling white.

A gloss finish on a white ceiling is a hard detail to photograph because it's subtle, but I've shown a few examples below.  A few things to note, if you're going for a less noticeable finish, select a semi-gloss.  If you'd like the ceiling gloss detail to really stand out, select a high-gloss.  Our home is more traditional and we didn't really want the gloss to stand out, so we used Glidden's standard ceiling white with a Low-Luster finish.  It gives the perfect amount of sheen to add height to the room, but it doesn't stand out or drawn attention to the shine.  It's the perfect amount of shine, giving the ceilings a little glow and bouncing lamp light off of the ceiling.

Also worth nothing, if your ceilings aren't in good condition, gloss finishes will show every imperfection.  I like old imperfect homes so this doesn't bother me, but if cracks and uneven ceilings bother you, the semi-gloss and gloss will definitely make them more noticeable.  (For this reason, your painter may charge you a little more to use a semi-gloss or gloss.  They have to be more careful while painting because it does show imperfections!)

This really high gloss ceiling definitely makes this ceiling feel taller, and the ceiling becomes a design element.

This sheen level is less noticeable, likely a semi-gloss or a low-luster.  The lower sheen level does not jump out at your eye, but it helps the light reflect and bounce off the ceiling, and it keeps the ceiling from feeling as low and heavy as a matte finish would. 

Beautiful living room wood ceiling painted with a white gloss.  Again the gloss keeps the ceiling from feeling heavy.

 The really high gloss in this bedroom makes the space feel more contemporary.

This image is technically cheating because this ceiling is a pale blue gloss, but it still shows the "glowy" effect that the gloss gives a space.

Not every room will need this type of finish on the ceiling.  In our home, we only painted the ceilings in the living room and dining room (and soon our kitchen) in the low-luster gloss finish.  We like our bedrooms to feel cozy so we intentionally left those matte, not wanting those ceilings to feel higher.  

For other Interior Details, regardless of budget or style here!

~Mary Keller

First image via So Sterling and Company; Second image via AtticMag; Third image via House Beautiful; Fourth image via Apartment Therapy; Fifth image via CocoCozy


  1. MK - I LOVE your design ideas. Can you come to Austin and do our house??!!