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Emily Henderson Ceiling Painted Plain 6
photo by richard powers | design by nikos moustroufis and isabel lopez-quesada | via architectural digest

There’s one particular design topic that has been pretty top of mind (pun accidentally intended) amongst Emily and the staff… and that topic is the accent ceiling. Is it a brand new idea? No. But why don’t we take advantage of them more? They are right there, above our little heads undervalued and underused. We are pretty passionate about putting a stop to this in 2020. To prove it, Julie has convinced Caitlin her dining room must have a wallpapered ceiling, Emily has been cooking up some great ceiling ideas for her kid’s shared room, and I am also thinking an accent ceiling wall would be killer way to make a design slash in my bed nook that wouldn’t dry up my funds. Guys, it’s a win-win-win!

There are a handful of ways you can approach this. You want to decide what is going to work best for you: Wallpaper or paint? Solid color or patterned? Applied moulding or plain and smooth? Overwhelmed? Relax, because today I am going to take you through all of your options, give you A TON of inspiration, and some extra little things to think about. Things are really looking up 🙂


Let’s call this what it is – a design MOMENT. Wallpapered ceilings have been popping up a lot more lately which I am truly down for. Anytime I see a photo of one of these rooms I make the immediate assumption that the homeowner is awesome because all this says to me is that, “I’m so fun and take risks.” I want to be this person, don’t you?

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photo by tessa neustadt | design by amber interiors

This stunner of a room (and ceiling) is by the great Amber Interiors. When I first laid eyes on this room and found out it was AI I thought it felt a little outside the box of their norm, but that made me love it and them even more. It was a risk that was very worth taking because this room would have still been beautiful if the ceiling was white but that contrasting dark floral paper takes this room to a WHOLE NEW LEVEL. It makes a very pretty room, full of pink and flowers, edgy.

Emily Henderson Ceiling Wallpaper 4photo by erik petschek | design by kelly wearstler

From one incredible design firm to another, this plaid ceiling in the newly opened Austin Proper is brought to you by the one and only Kelly Wearstler. Ok, to be fair I think that might be fabric but the principle is the same. Your eye is drawn upward giving you a delightful surprise. The plaid helps to soften and add additional character to this otherwise very modern space.

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photo by kara mercer | design by keri petersen

This kitchen was sent to me and I knew I had to put it in this post. Designer Keri Peterson wanted to create a Mrs. Masiel inspired kitchen and she nailed it. This vintage style kitchen is so lovely but is brought to life by that floral wallpaper. Yet, because it’s mainly overhead, it doesn’t overwhelm your direct eye line.

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photo by stacy goldberg | design by melissa colgan | via coco kelley

For those of you who are down for the patterned life, I truly can’t get enough of the double wallpaper look. Whether you choose a neutral color palette like this one above (can you say swoon??) or a bold color palette, just make sure that you vary the scale and/or style of pattern. The pattern scales in this one are similar but the ceiling pattern (also seen in Sara’s old apartment) is soft and natural-looking while the wall pattern has more color contrast and prominent lines/detail.

Emily Henderson Ceiling Wallpaper 7
left: photo by jessica antola | design by angela chrusciaki blehm | via domino | right: photo & design by erin kestenbaum

A simple and modern pattern is a great option, if you want more of “an accent” as opposed to “a statement” if you know what I mean. Keep the colors and pattern detail to a minimum. Don’t forget that this can be a very budget-friendly project (especially if you install it yourself), and for renter’s temporary wallpaper is always a good option. Now also keep in mind that wallpapering is ceiling is much cheaper than covering all four walls. So if you have been eyeing a pricier option maybe you could swing if you didn’t need as much? Just saying:) However, if you want an even more money-saving option, follow me because we are moving on.

Painted Pattern

All you need for this option is paint, a brush, likely some painter’s tape and your imagination. Oh, and a tall enough ladder because while a step stool with a stack of books may seem sufficient… it really isn’t… I promise (she says as unwelcome memories of near-death flash before her eyes).

Emily Henderson Ceiling Painted Patterns 1
photo by matthew williams | design by sarah sherman samuel | via domino

It was a wild rollercoaster watching Sarah Sherman Samuel’s Instastories of her son’s room ceiling design. I was on the edge of my seat, consumed in perfectionist’s panic as she taped this geometric pattern with nothing but her eye and then later ripped off the tape faster than I could probably run (jk, that’s just how it felt in the moment). But OF COURSE, it looked perfect and is something that is possible for anyone to do (it will probably just take a bit longer than this professional).

Emily Henderson Ceiling Painted Patterns 3
design by pierre yovanovitch | via remodelista

A ceiling design like this one is for someone who either has a real talent with the brush themself or has a super talented “Michelangelo-like” friend at their disposal. But the idea of highlighting your ceiling’s architecture with a cool pattern could be incredibly chic. Also, this might be my favorite ceiling ever.

Emily Henderson Ceiling Painted Patterns 4
design by juniper tedhams | via sight unseen
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left: image via domino | right: photo by christian torres | design by tina rich and tali roth | via coco kelley

Since likely most of us feel most comfortable attempting the classic stripe (shout out again to painter’s tape) above are two awesome examples that with a fresh color, stripes are anything but simple and can bring so much visual interest and playfulness a space.

Painted Pattern That Continues Down The Wall

Your genius painted pattern doesn’t have to end at your ceiling/wall meet-cute. Feel free to bring the party down the wall a bit, or even all the way.

Emily Henderson Ceiling Painted Patterns 2
image via livingetc

Emily pinned this image and I was immediately sold! Not only is the yellow stripe extension so darn cute but for this nursery it makes it feel like you are in a circus tent. What kid (or kid adult) wouldn’t want this ceiling?

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image via pierre yovanovitch

As if Pierre Yovanovitch could do anything short of perfection. This ceiling/wall design takes stripes to a whole new level and keeps your eye constantly interested and happy. So if you want something outside the design norm that is still doable, take a little time and tap into your geometric mind. It is obviously worth it.

Contrasting Paint Colors

Now we all love a patterned wallpaper or a fun painted design, but there is something so stunning about a simple, single color ceiling. First off it’s way easier to actually execute AND it’s the most renter and budget-friendly option. But for this section, we are focusing on the “contrasting colored” ceiling. It’s still a risk but not a “too crazy” one.

Emily Henderson Ceiling Painted Plain 3
design by pierre yovanovitch | via remodelista

A black-painted ceiling is a bold but beautiful choice for the right room. It works so perfectly in this space because the dark charcoal rug and darker decor accents help to visually balance the eye. It’s simple and completely chic.

Emily Henderson Ceiling Painted Plain 2 1
photo by juli daoust | design by finn juhl | via remodelista

A pop of mustard? Yes, please! Painting your ceiling a bold neutral is a great way to take this risk but in a safer way. Just make sure that the wall color is still contrasting like with this white color. Otherwise, it may not look as intentional.

Emily Henderson Ceiling Painted Plain 5
photo by roberto ruiz | design by marta klinker | via architectural digest

But if you want to bring more bold colors into your life/ceiling than we say go for it! It’s just paint, so you can always change it without any damage (just a little bit of time lost).

Tonal Paint Colors

For those of us (yes, myself likely included) a bold color contrast might be a bit much to our eye. But that doesn’t mean we can’t join in on the ceiling fun. It’s time to think more on the tonal side…

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photo by fanny radvik | design by elin odnegard

Take this kitchen. It’s completely neutral but instead of painting the wall a light taupe and the ceiling white (the traditional way), designer Elin Odnegard decided to go for the unexpected and flipped the colors. Now, this kitchen feels fresh and very cool.

Emily Henderson Ceiling Tonal Paint 4
photo by jonas ingerstedt | styling by jill windahl

Tonal doesn’t always mean neutral. Here we are in living in a purple and pink world. What is so great about this combo is that they chose the darker color for the wall and keep the ceiling light which helps to make the room feel tall.

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both: photo by laure joliet | design by reath design

New EHD favorite, Reath Design, really took the colorful tonal look seriously and it’s awesome. Again they chose the darker color for the walls and kept the ceiling light. Again this is such an easy and wallet-friendly way to make your space feel very intentional and completely personal to your style.

Easy To Apply Millwork/Moulding

For those of you who want to also bring more texture to your ceilings then this section is for you. If you have been around these parts for a while you may remember our How to Add Character series from a couple of years ago. We did one on ceilings so go here for a far more in-depth education (and how-tos), but here are two of the easier options you can DIY…

Emily Henderson Ceiling Applied Mouldings 2
photo by douglass friedman | design by jeremiah brent

Strip moulding is a great and super customizable way to trick out your ceiling. Just measure and then cut strips of flat moulding and attach to ceiling (I promise there is more info in the ceiling post). Then start painting.

Emily Henderson Ceiling Applied Mouldings 1
photo by rikki snyder | design by tamara magel | via elle decor

But if you want something that covers the whole ceiling than let us recommend paneling. This could be a shiplap, v-groove or beadboard. This is also something you can order, cut and install yourself if you’d like. It’s a beautiful accent to bring serious character to your ceiling.

Ok, that’s it for our unsung room hero. I hope that you are as into the idea of paying some attention to your ceiling as we all are. There is endless inspiration out there (as shown by my near inability to delete a single photo I pinned). So if you are wanting to tackle this super worthwhile project I hope you now feel empowered. Heck, it’s Friday so you could do it this weekend if you wanted. In fact, Sara’s planning on spending her weekend convincing Mac that a wallpapered ceiling is the next project in their TV room… or maybe their bedroom. Both?

Anyways, despite us all being design drunk on this idea, what do you think? Would you dare to wallpaper your ceiling? Interested in a bold color? Any attempts and/or tips? We want to know all your thoughts and to discuss in the comments 🙂

Love you, mean it.

The post Don’t Neglect Your Ceiling – 5 Easy (and Budget-Friendly) Ways To Take Your Room To The Next Level appeared first on Emily Henderson.