What colour do I paint my cornice?

The cornice is the plaster detail that covers the join between the wall and the ceiling.  It's an area that isn't usually paid a lot of attention until you have to select one or decide what you should paint it.  There is a very straight forward answer in terms of painting and that is that it is usually treated the same as the ceiling.  This is in terms of colour and finish.  Ceiling paint should always be matt, as this is the best finish to hide any imperfections.  It therefore follows that the cornice is painted in the same matt paint and colour as the ceiling.  There are exceptions though which I will cover below.

What colour do I paint my cornice
Image: Pret a Vivre

I also have some fabulous examples of different cornices to show you too so that you have your answer ready when your builder asks you to choose.

Do I have to paint my cornice the same as the ceiling?

The answer is no – absolutely not.  Colour and the tone (depth) of it can be a useful tool to manipulate the look and size of a room.  If you have low ceilings, you can paint your cornice to match your wall colour, therefore lengthening the wall and making it appear higher.

Or if you want to create a really stunning look and lengthen your walls even in one with higher ceilings, this trick can work well here too.  In the image below the curtains have been hung beautifully above the window and then by painting the cornice to match the wall, you create more painted wall above the curtains which in turn heightens the wall.

What colour do I paint my cornice

Below is another great example and this can be very effective with built in cabinetry and wall panelling.

What colour do I paint my cornice
KCL Interior Design

If you have very high ceilings and you would like the room to appear more cosy and intimate, you can paint your ceiling a dark colour.  The cornice can be painted the same as the wall to prevent the look from being too heavy.  You can paint just the top part of the wall to match the ceiling and cornice and install paneling as in the image below.

What colour do I paint my cornice
Image: Home Bunch

If you are painting the wall and ceiling the same colour, I usually recommend that you include the cornice rather than making this a statement.

The same trick can be applied to skirting boards.  These are often painted in a contrast colour, usually white, but if painted the same as the wall, it will lengthen the space and make the wall appear more generous.

What colour do I paint my cornice
Image: mdfskirtingworld.co.uk

By painting walls, trim and internal doors all one colour, you create a cocooning effect.  Occasionally in media rooms, you see this with the ceiling and cornice painted the same too.  It's like being in a cave or a cinema!

What colour do I paint my cornice

Related: How to manipulate a space with colour

Is it a boring choice then to paint the cornice the same as the ceiling?

The answer again is no!  It really is the standard approach that suits most houses.  It's just good to be open to the possibilities and sometimes think outside the square.  Contemporary homes often have square set ceilings which people find very appealing.  This could also be seen as boring, but it is often the case in design that less is more.  However, these come at a price as the plastering has to be exact.  The reason we have a cornice is to cover up this join.

What colour do I paint my cornice
Image: Fairhaven Homes

Adding a design element with cornice

Another reason to use cornice is that it can actually add a great design element to the space.  We have seen the beautiful plaster work in older homes, where the ceilings were masterpieces in their own right.  A square set ceiling is therefore only appropriate for very contemporary homes.  A cornice can be a way of introducing some style into your new home, but you have to know which one to select to get the right look.

What colour do I paint my cornice
Image: Dot and Pop

Gyprock’s collection of eight cornice designs will complement and balance interior design features and help bring the whole space together by adding detail and personality.  I have some to show you to help you to make the right decision:

Modern Farmhouse style

Modern farmhouse combines the sleek clean lines of contemporary design with the cosy farmhouse aesthetic to create a uniquely fresh take on the country living inspired style. Modern farmhouse style is known for its warmth and simplicity, characterized by natural textures and materials like wood or galvanized steel. Gyprock Presto cornice compliments this style perfectly with the modern simplicity of square set whilst maintaining an intriguing design aesthetic.

What colour do I paint my cornice

Australian Coastal

Inspired by the Australian coast, this general laid back, breezy and charming aesthetic works perfectly for the Australian lifestyle and climate. Long flowing sheer curtains waving over white timber flooring fosters the sense of relaxation Australians associate with coastal living. Gyprock Aria cornice, beautifully echoes the weatherboard cladding typical of Australian Coastal style.

What colour do I paint my cornice

Related: Australian Coastal Style – 7 tips to achieve this look

Contemporary Hamptons

There’s no greater home design trend that has quite captured the hearts and minds of  Australians like the Hamptons trend. Named after the luxurious summer destination of choice for New York’s glamourous set, Hamptons style embodies coastal styling and relaxed living. The parallel lines of the floorboards and wall paneling harmonise wonderfully with Gyprock Trio cornice. Comprised of three solid steps, Trio delivers a striking presence in concert with the brick and board facades typical of Hamptons architecture.

What colour do I paint my cornice

Related: Hamptons Style – 7 steps to achieve this look

Children's spaces

Unexpected textures combine perfectly with timber elements to create a youthful ambience. This style of design is perfect for bringing children’s rooms and play areas to life. The trend of creating bedrooms as eclectic and individual as the child who occupies them is growing in popularity and what better way to realise this than with colour, pattern and texture.

What colour do I paint my cornice

An opulent space

Combining neutral tones and natural textured materials for the ultimate luxury experience. Depth and texture and the interplay between curves and straight lines are all important. Timber contributes to infuse a sense of opulence, enhanced beautifully by Gyprock Symphony cornice. A sweeping, reversible profile gives the ability to create different impressions in different rooms. Textural Opulence is all about combining elements which seem unlikely to work together, but end up infusing a sense of splendour into a home.

What colour do I paint my cornice

Luxe living

The design palette of dark wool carpets, brass and timber elements set the tone for a luxurious and bespoke room. This design includes a moody blend of tonal elements inspired by the night sky colour palette, and here, a striking cornice such as the sophisticated Gyprock Concerto is the perfect choice. Subtle curves offset by a rigid line gives a formal look and feel. From the country or atop a city apartment building, your home will feel luxurious.

What colour do I paint my cornice

For more information visit Gyprock Living

What colour do I paint my cornice

I have other related posts which you may be interested in:

What colour do I paint my ceiling?  

What colour do I paint my internal doors?

What colour do I paint my skirting boards & architraves?

If you are building or renovating, or just completing a weekend decorating project, I have a FREE Resource Library with e-books and comprehensive checklists to help you.  You can download everything free here.


2 thoughts on “What colour do I paint my cornice?

  1. Tracy says:

    My entire house has cornices. I would love to have some fluted full length panelling features on some walls. How is this best navigated with a cornice and existing skirting? Also do I remove the cornice to do a full wall tile in a bathroom and powder room Reno? Is there another way besides square setting it? Thank you for your great advice and articles.

    • Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Tracy You can still have full length panelling with cornicing. Depending on the style of the panelling, you may want to keep the cornice very simple. The same applies for fully tiled walls in bathrooms. You can run them up to the cornice or square set. It really depends on the vintage of your house and whether you want a very clean contemporary look for your bathroom. Hope this helps Samantha

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