We used to go all out on our ceilings. See Exhibit A:
These days, however, the ceiling is typically undervalued and overlooked. Most people paint it white and call it a day. But just like The Dude’s rug really tied the room together, an expertly employed wallpaper on the ceiling can have the same effect. Here are some creative ways to get the most out of the fifth wall.
Add A Little Interest Approach
If you love wallpaper but don’t want to commit to all four walls, try a subtle print on the ceiling. If your style is a little more minimal, you can build interest through layers of texture rather than sharp contrasts and bold prints. Good options for this approach are tone-on-tone geometrics, understated animal prints, and embossed wallpapers like Anaglypta.
- Thibaut – Medina
- Jonathan Adler – Malachite
- Farrow & Ball – Brockhampton Star
- York Wallcoverings – Amulet
Make A Statement Approach
Do you want to do a bold print but feel like an accent wall will throw off the balance of the room? Make the ceiling be the accent! Whether you prefer a sharp geometric or an ornate colorful floral, this approach will make the ceiling the star of the room.
Go For It Approach
Do you love a wallpaper so much you want to see it all around you? Put it everywhere! There’s no law against it. But here are a few tips to follow to ensure it looks good:
- You might not get the pattern to match up in every wall-to-ceiling meeting. A busy print with a lot of movement can help hide any discrepancies. You can also consider adding crown molding, which will physically separate the wall wallpaper from the ceiling wallpaper.
- Consider how much time you spend in the room and what you do there. Walls and ceiling in the same print tends to create a lot of vibrancy and energy in a room, so if it’s a space where you want a calmer vibe, this approach might not be right.
- Generally, ceiling wallpapers tend to work best when the print is both: 1) an allover pattern: the pattern is evenly distributed, more squared off, symmetrical, and dense; and 2) non-directional: the pattern works from any angle without a clear right side up. A pattern with a clear right side up could look strange from different angles in the room.
- Walls and ceiling in the same print can potentially make a room feel cozy, drawing the walls in and darkening the space. But it can surprisingly have the opposite effect of making a room feel bigger, especially with prints that have a lot of depth to them. Depth means the print has layers to it, with the pattern getting darker or lighter between the foreground and the background. Shading. This creates the illusion that the pattern is receding away from you, opening up the room. Here’s an example of a pattern with a lot of depth:
Like I mentioned earlier, there are no strict rules governing the use of wallpaper on a ceiling. We’ve come a long way since the days of tin ceilings, so we’re bound to create more beauty by pushing those boundaries. Go forth and adorn that fifth wall!