You could never accuse Michelangelo of settling for a boring white ceiling. The Vatican’s Sistine Chapel is among the world’s most glorious places to look up and enjoy the view. Tokyo’s Senso-ji Temple, Istanbul’s Blue Mosque, and even the Chicago Cultural Center (home to the world’s largest stained glass Tiffany dome) are more spots that celebrate stylish ceilings.
“Adorned ceilings evoke memories of travel and all the artfully decorated ceilings I’ve seen around the world,” says Kate Miller, the designer behind the wallpaper and textile company Elworthy Studio in Half Moon Bay, California. “Masters of art, design, and architecture have been utilizing ceilings as a fifth surface for centuries over. They recognized that doing so elevates a space, taking it from beautiful to breathtaking, interesting to iconic.”
Let your own space rise to the occasion with these seven ways that transform a blank, white ceiling into something that’s conversation-worthy. And don’t worry, you don’t need Michelangelo’s skills or 30,000 pieces of Tiffany glass. These DIY ideas are doable for the modern-day homeowner.
Cover in showstopping paint
Go bold overhead by picking a paint shade that complements the wallpaper or color on your other four walls. But also use a high-gloss sheen, which has the added benefit of brightening a room. “High-gloss ceilings are great in dining rooms, as they reflect the light of the chandelier and any tabletop candles,” says Emilie Munroe, owner and principal designer of Studio Munroe, an interior design firm in San Francisco. As for Munroe’s color recommendations? “Jewel-toned shades are ideal, as they bring interest and glam,” she says.
David Quarles IV, a Memphis-based interior designer, recommends adding high-gloss paint to ceilings in small spaces. “In my bathroom, I decided to paint the ceiling a spiced coral color, using high-gloss paint,” he says. “Because I get very little natural light in that room, I wanted my upward-facing vanity light to reflect onto the ceiling, making the small, almost windowless room feel large enough to be invigorating in the morning yet calming enough in the evening when it’s time to soak and reflect on the day.” Quarles also recommends adding a clear topcoat with flecks of gold leaf to your color, which creates another layer of visual texture.
Add structured molding