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You Won't Believe How Chic Wallpapered Ceilings Can Look

House Beautiful logoHouse Beautiful 06/02/2019 Maggie Burch, Hadley Mendelsohn
a chair sitting in front of a building: IMG_0069.JPG © Tim Street-Porter IMG_0069.JPG

Wallpaper is an incredible (and underrated!) design element that can instantly add colour, personality, and art to your space. In a time when ultra-bright white rooms reign supreme on Instagram, many of us might be afraid of colour or pattern being too overwhelming.

That isn't a totally unjustified fear: The wrong wallpaper in the wrong room can at best, transport you back in time and at worst, give you a headache. But there are so many ways to do wallpaper right, and one creative option you might not have considered is installing wallpaper on your ceiling.

Watch: The one genius paint trick to make your space feel bigger [Real Simple]


You've probably seen ceilings that are painted a colour other than the standard flat white, but have you seen what a brilliant pattern on the ceiling can do for a space? We chatted with two designers who swear by the magic of wallpapering a ceiling to get their best tips and suggestions on the subject.

Why You Should Try It

"I'm a huge fan of wallpaper and its ability to transform a space more powerfully than paint," says Nashville designer Lori Paranjape. By adding a dramatic leopard print wallpaper (Schumacher’s Iconic Leopard in Ink) on the ceiling of this study, Lori was able to add a punch of personality and colour to the room without disrupting the theme of all white walls throughout the house. "The ceiling was our chance to be brave and bold, without becoming a distraction for the adjacent spaces," she says.

a close up of a piece of paper: marble wallpaper on ceiling © PHOTO: Matthew Williams; DESIGN: Studio DB marble wallpaper on ceiling

Even if you aren't concerned about wallpapered walls disrupting the flow of decor from room to room, Lori thinks wallpapered ceilings are a great option for rooms that have a lot going on on the walls, like "paneling or lots of doors. The ceiling if often a fairly clean palette for pattern," she explains.

A clean palette of a ceiling is exactly what led Nadia Subaran, co-owner of Maryland-based firm Aidan Design, to use wallpaper on the ceiling of this kitchen-adjacent china pantry. The ceiling was the perfect choice for Farrow and Ball’s Ranelagh paper in a small room with tall cabinets, several doors, and a window. An archway by the entrance is another beautiful space perfect for a wallpaper moment from floor to ceiling.

a close up of a door: entryway with wallpaper © Nicole Franzen entryway with wallpaper

"Architecturally, it works best to have nice clean ceiling geometries:(square, rectangle, etc.)," Nadia notes, "and not too many perforations (recessed lights, skylights, vents, etc.)." Nadia’s firm works mostly on kitchens and accompanying butlers pantries and dining rooms, and she says kitchens often have too many design elements to make them prime contenders for wallpapered ceilings. But by adding a punch of pattern and colour in neighbouring rooms, you "offer a detail that is often unexpected and special," she says. "It's a great way to transition into more formal detailing, too."

How To Make It Happen

Once you've decided to wallpaper, it's time to narrow down your options. "Choosing wallpaper is a bit like choosing the right jewellery for an outfit," Nadia says.

a living room filled with furniture and a painting on the wall: purple bedroom with wallpaper on ceiling © Peter Murdock purple bedroom with wallpaper on ceiling

Lori explains that by determining why she wants wallpaper in a space, it helps her choose which pattern to use. "Is it providing much needed vibrancy to a space? Is it adding an extra layer of texture? Or an unexpected whimsical moment?"

Once you've got a feel for the colour and style of paper you want to install, there are a few other things you want to consider, including the effect the paper will have on the room. "If a room is very long and narrow, we like to run a pattern perpendicular or choose a pattern that doesn’t have a clear direction," Nadia says. "We don’t want to reinforce a bowling alley feel."

a glass door: wallpapered ceiling ideas © Ngoc Minh Ngo wallpapered ceiling ideas

If it doesn't exist already, framing out your ceiling with crown moulding is a great way to define the ceiling and set it off from the walls. A second-story room with slanted ceilings can be played up by wallpapering the walls and ceiling in the same paper to create unity, Nadia suggests.

Finally, when it comes to installation, Lori suggests calling in the pros. "Wallpaper got a bad wrap for a long time because of how poorly it was installed...and therefore how poorly is came down," she says. If you want to DIY, there are tons of removable and self-adhesive wallpaper options out there that mean no mess and easy removal-even for renters. 

Gallery: Problem-solving ideas for small kitchens [lovemoney]


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