• Tell Your Friends

Do me a favor, and look up at your ceiling—thanks. Now let me politely ask “WHY THE HELL DID YOU JUST LEAVE YOUR DRYWALL CEILING BLANK BUT PAINT YOUR DRYWALLED WALLS A COLOR?” No, I’m not yelling, I just don’t really understand. White drywall ceilings are fantastic when (a) they’re part of an all-white-aesthetic (b) the ceilings are coffered or (c) they’re clad with beadboard or tongue-and-groove wood painted out white or (d) you’re broke and can’t afford another gallon of $26 paint.

Easy DIY Ceiling Medallion by Layla Palmer of The Lettered Cottage

Sure, this is totally subjective; however, as someone who gets paid to improve people’s homes, I can attest firsthand that it’s an easy way to give a room new identity, play up its assets or tone down its shortcomings. Here’s a few ceiling design ideas for different levels of DIY. Hey, you spend hours picking paint colors, taping off trim, then rolling eggshell enamel on your walls; it’s only fair you pay some attention to their upstairs neighbor. Right?

Painted Ceiling Tiles

Armstrong Residential Ceilings offers a huge assortment of ceiling tiles for spaces with unfortunate but necessary drop-ceilings. In basements, or as I like to call them, “terrace levels,” drop-ceilings allow instant access to leaky pipes or damaged wiring. Sure, the grids can be torn out, then drywall can go up; however, that’s a major headache and if you can’t do it yourself, it’s also major cost. Simply swap out unsightly foam tiles for “Raised Panel” tiles which can be left in their matte white finish to help bounce light around or they can be customized with paint. In this basement’s bedroom, my team updated the ceiling in about four hours; the only tool needed was a utility knife to cut the end pieces to size. Once installed, we sprayed the ceiling and the walls the same shade of dove grey. This is a great project for people with beginner DIY skills.

Beadboard Painted Ceiling

Beadboard is an affordable way to go directly over unsightly popcorn or stippled ceilings, like this, which I used in the makeover of FOX News reporter Stacy Elgin’s home office. In this designer’s studio, I added a layer of architectural interest to boring, new construction, drywall ceilings with Armstrong Residential Ceilings “WoodHaven Beadboard”, then painted it a plum color found in accents of the wallpaper. What’s so great about using this product is that it’s engineered specifically for ceilings; it comes in thin planks which are much easier to install than basic beadboard which comes in 8X4 sheets. Since this involves cuts with a chopsaw, I’d recommend this for homeowners with medium DIY skills.

Painted Ceilings

If you’ve got almost zero DIY skills, I’m certain you can tackle this: paint stippled ceilings the same color as your walls using a flat finish paint. When I overhauled this Rhode Island teachers’ lounge, I couldn’t help but obsess over the ugliness of the chipped, stippled effect above. Limited on time, labor and budget, I needed a quick fix to just simply make it go away. Two gallons of flat paint and an extender pole were all I needed.

Woodplank Ceilings

Woodhaven plank systems are my go-to products for complete ceiling overhauls. You’ll need advanced DIY skills to complete them yourself: be able to make cuts with a chop saw, measure meticulously for proper line-up and attach furring strips to the studs with a nail gun.

Woodplank Ceilings

Once installed, they give the look of a custom, stained wood ceiling. This particular style is called “Weathered”; it took a full weekend to install.

Painted Ceiling Stripes

Here’s a painted ceiling project for medium-skilled DIY’ers with steady hands. Add graphic impact to boring, white drywall with a taped off, painted pattern. In this neutral boy’s room, I revved up the energy with a few bursts of pea green and brown in unexpected places: bookshelf panels and a 14X12 ceiling. To create perfect stripes, I simply measured, then taped off 14-inch alternating stripes, then painted them with a roller. This cost less than $100 and took a weekend. Small price to pay to escape the hell of a neglected drywall ceiling, don’t ya think?

45 Responses

  1. Stacy - from Iowa says:

    I know I've seen rooms on HGTV where they have painted their wall color up about a foot of color up on the ceilings. Doesn't something like that make the ceilings appear to be taller?
    Please send anything to deal with this comment.

  2. gLENN says:

    my ceiling has water stains -wHAT CAN i DO WITH IT.

  3. sheila v. says:

    should you paint ceiling same color as four walls?

  4. Lucy says:

    Help! I have car siding on the wall and a popcorn ceiling. It costs way to much to remove the popcorn ceiling. Any thoughts as to how to hide it with such walls?

    • Mike Tolon says:

      Consider taking a spray bottle filled with water and a 6" putty knife. Spray an area of the ceiling, and the popcorn texture should just peel off. Be careful not to gouge the ceiling with the putty knife. Consider using a plastic putty knife.

    • Lauren says:

      Hi Lucy, AmericanTinCeilings.com has a product called SnapLock tin tiles that you can screw directly over popcorn ceilings or dry wall – no need to remove. Tin is a beautiful ceiling material and is available in over 33 patterns / 50 colors starting at under $2 a square foot. Check it out! http://americantinceilings.com/snaplock.html?utm_

  5. Dion says:

    Interesting one! I have a Design plafond (design ceiling) in almost all of my rooms except the kitchen. Can you suggest me something for my kitchen which can jell with the other ceiling designs that I have. I liked the wooden ceiling a lot and probably something that can bring a wooden effect to my kitchen.

  6. plumbing says:

    excellent blog! big follow of your writing

  7. annette says:

    I took down a drop ceiling paneling was put up to the drop ceiling now what do I put where the paneling ends up to the original ceiling

  8. annette says:

    there is paneling up to where I took the drop ceiling down now what do I do with the wall to the main ceiling

  9. pat thomas-geppert says:

    I LOVE COLOR, i was thinking of doing my walls lime green or berry. my problem i would like too paint my ceiling a dark blue, know that scares a lot of people, but I'd like too try it. suggestions please

    • Suki says:

      Actually I would use the same colors in a much lighter shade. I did this in my bedroom and I think it looks very high end.

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