3 DIY Ideas for Transforming Your Ceiling, Transforming Your Home

New homeowner, look up. That big expanse above your head? It does a lot more than keep the rain out. In fact, keeping you warm and snug is more your roof’s job. Your ceiling on the other hand becomes part of your home’s overall aesthetic. Yes, it has practical applications too, but because of those practical concerns, we might easily overlook the fact that we can enhance, remodel, paint, embellish, and otherwise improve the look of our ceilings—and in doing so, improve  the look of our whole home.

Pretty and Practical

The greatest advantage to deciding to update the look of your ceiling: You get something pretty, but also something very important—a more structurally sound ceiling. Before you can paint, add wood panels, tin, tiles, etc., you must first smooth out your surface, repairing cracks and removing cobwebs. Then, as you create your new surface, you also cover any stains or discolorations as well. The result: a healthier, more beautiful home, from top to bottom. 

Tips for Weekend DIYers

Like you, I have a job, a family, and a life. Finding time to remodel the house is always a challenge, and I gravitate toward projects that offer maximum return with the smallest time requirement. Here then are a few you would do in a weekend or two, without taking a bunch of classes first.

  • Keep Things Proportional

Grand, sprawling designs on the ceiling work best in grand, sprawling rooms. For smaller rooms, think diminutive tiles, softer colors and textures. Lighter colored ceilings generally appear more wide open, lending a feeling of spaciousness to closer quarters. On the other hand, you can use warm color treatments on high ceilings to make a room feel cozier.

  • Repair First

Plaster ceilings may need a smoothing over before application can begin. Use a plaster washers (see your local hardware or home store) to repair/tighten up broken or sagging plaster. Note: If you are using wood, tin, or suspending a celieng from the exisiting surface, you can skip re-plastering; but do investigate long cracks as they can be signs of structural damage.

If you plan to wallpaper your ceilings, repair cracks and clean with well diluted  TSP (again, check your hardware/home store). We used this on our basement before painting and it cleaned the surface very well, but it’s also a fairly noxious subtance, so I recommend a face mask, eye covering, and long gloves, plus plenty of venilaiton while working.

3 Treatments that Add Style and Flair

  1. Tin Panels

Whether you opt for actual tin or for the lighter plastic version (which looks the same but is much less expensive and easier to install), this vintage embellishment can transform a room. Note the tiles/panels come in many different colors and patterns. Both of these examples come from All Super Design.com.

Tin tiles for ceiling


Suspended tin ceiling


2. Wallpaper

You can paper a ceiling as you would a wall. Keep in mind you don’t need to cover the whole thing. You could add paper strategically for a particular effect, or you could lay it over the entire surface. Here’s a fun treatment via Maison Boheme.

Wallpaper ceiling

And another fun, but more sedate one, from Furniture Connexion.


3. Wood Panels

Think instant warmth and cabin-coziness from natural colored wood panels, which you can apply over the existing ceiling. Painted wood, depending on color and texture, can create anything from a beach house effect to a modern, sleek home. This idea comes from Art Wall Décor.

Wood paneled ceiling


The next one is from Pretty Little Green Things.

Stained wood ceiling

Additional Ideas

Feeling brave? You should investigate suspended ceilings, adding molding, installing honeycomb or other patterned embellishment, or even using drywall to create geometric planes upon the surface. You can also keep it simple: Install medallions around a gorgeous light fixture to draw attention to that piece, and leave the rest of the ceiling alone.  Whatever you do, keep in mind what’s above you is a big part of your overall surroundings. Enjoy every inch!

We’d love photos or stories of ceiling transformations. Share them in the comments section here or on our Facebook page.

Additional Resources

Anna Marie Erwert writes from both the renter and new buyer perspective, having (finally) achieved both statuses. She focuses on national real estate trends, specializing in the San Francisco Bay Area and Pacific Northwest. Follow Anna on Twitter: @AnnaMarieErwert