Ceiling Decor Ideas: 10 Unique Ways To Decorate The Ceiling On a Budget

Want to add some spice to your rooms? Get rid of that boring white ceiling! Check out these unique ceiling design ideas for easy ways to decorate the ceiling that are easy on the budget, too.

10 Easy Ways To Decorate The Ceiling On a Budget

Ceiling Design Ideas

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As you may know, I am on a mission to upgrade my builder grade home by giving it those extra details you see in expensive custom homes…but without paying the custom home price.

The main way I do that is by finding designer rooms that I like and figuring out what makes those rooms so special.

Which is how I came to be a “ceiling must be decorated” fanatic.  No boring white ceilings in my house!

Chagall Ceiling Painting. Palais Garnier. Paris Opera House via traveltoeat.com
Chagall Ceiling Painting. Palais Garnier. Paris Opera House via traveltoeat.com

If you look at some of the most awe-inspiring rooms in the world (like the Paris Opera House), they all include beautiful ceiling designs.  I am sure these were painted using scaffolding and in a prone position, which sounds like way too much work for me!

Fortunately, it is possible to achieve the same kind of ceiling interest and warmth at home, without putting in that much time and effort.

Keep reading to find 10 ceiling design ideas that are unique ways to decorate your ceiling.

Note: Some of the images are from houzz.com and cannot be pinned due to their copyright restrictions

1. Paint The Ceiling The Same Color As The Walls

The easiest one of my ways to decorate the ceiling is paint it the same color as the walls. 

It doesn’t require any extra decision making, it is sure to go with your decor and the extra bit of color on the ceiling will make the walls and ceiling flow.

You can choose to do a lighter tint on the ceiling like this office from Kelly Wearstler.

Bedroom with the ceiling and walls painted dark gray

Or go with the exact same paint color.

I do this in a lot of my rooms because it has the added benefit of making your room seem bigger. There are no visual clues that separate the walls from the ceiling so your eye sees it all as one big surface.

Small den with the ceilings and walls painted black

It even works well with dark colors in small rooms like my den where I painted the walls and ceilings the same color black.

2. Pull A Color From The Wallpaper

The second way to decorate the ceiling is to find some inspiration in what you already have.

If there’s a pattern in your room, like this wallpaper or an area rug, try choosing one of the colors in the pattern for the ceiling.

It ties the whole room together and definitely adds some pizzazz.  Even this room done in brown looks amazing!

Bedroom with the ceiling painted pink to match the wallpaper

My mother did something similar in her bedroom makeover, by pulling the pink color from the wallpaper up onto the ceiling.

3. Paint A Contrasting Color

Painting the ceiling a dramatic color that goes with your decor can be a very effective and dramatic way to decorate the 5th wall.

In this picture the color of the ceiling ties in with the cushions and light fixture to give the room a cohesive look. The gloss of the paint also reflects light so that the darker color does not make the ceiling seem lower.

Note: I would not recommend using gloss paint if you have a popcorn ceiling…it will make all of the bumps show up even more.

Blue and white living room with the ceiling painted gold

My mother did something similar with the ceiling in her living room. She painted it gold to go with the blue, white and gold color scheme in her room.

And it definitely makes a statement!

4. Add a Ceiling Medallion

Bedroom with a purple ceiling and a gold ceiling medallion over a sputnik chandelier

Next up on my ways to decorate the ceiling is to install a ceiling medallion.

Ceiling medallions are a great way to call attention to the ceiling, especially if you have a fabulous light fixture that you want to highlight.

When I did my last master bedroom makeover, I decided to paint the ceiling medallion gold to contrast with the purple ceiling. And I love how it makes the chandelier stand out.

Of course, if you want to make even more of a statement, you could paint it more than one color.

I love this ceiling medallion that’s painted pink and gold!

Or if you want to save some money, you can make your own lace medallion (find the tutorial HERE) like I did when I re-decorated my den.

5. Install Moldings On The Ceiling

The next one of my ceiling design ideas takes the medallion look one step further by installing moldings on the ceiling.

I love the way the moldings add some definition and interest to what would otherwise be a big empty space.

If you really want to go all out, these decorative ceiling moldings definitely make a statement!

And they are actually really easy to install with some construction glue and nails.

Ceiling with craftsman style moldings painted in Brinjal (from Farrow and Ball)

Or you could add some craftsman-style moldings (find out how HERE) like my mother did, if you really want to up the architectural interest factor.

6. Paint Stripes

Bedroom with pink and white stripes painted on the ceiling

If you’re looking for some unique ceiling design ideas, these next few ways to decorate the ceiling may be for you!

Now we might really be stepping outside of some people’s ceiling decor comfort zone, but painting stripes on the ceiling really helps to bring some drama to the room.

Kitchen with bright pink and burgundy stripes painted on the ceiling

If you like a lot of color, bright stripes work well, too, like my mother did in her kitchen.  They immediately make the whole room feel very cheerful.

Get the step-by-step tutorial for painting stripes on the ceiling HERE.

7. Paint The Ceiling Gingham Or Plaid

Bathroom ceiling painted in a blue gingham pattern

Another one of my unique ceiling design ideas is to create a geometric ceiling design by painting gingham checks or plaid.

This is a little more time-consuming than stripes but you definitely end up with a dramatic ceiling!

I painted blue gingham checks to go with the French Country vibe in the first version of my master bathroom makeover.

Living room with a gingham pattern painted on the ceiling

And my mother painted a plaid ceiling in her living room. I guess it must run in the family 🙂

8. Paint a Starburst Pattern

The starburst pattern painted on the ceiling in this entryway is definitely a unique ceiling design idea!

When I was planning my home office makeover, my original idea was to do a ceiling pattern something like this.

Unfortunately, I ran out of time in the One Room Challenge and didn’t get to this part of the project.  But it makes such a statement that it is still on my to-do list!

9. Install Some Ceiling Wallpaper

Some folks might be wondering…can you install wallpaper on the ceiling?

Why yes…yes, you can!

Installing wallpaper on the ceiling is a little bit of a challenge, but the results can be stunning! (Find our tutorial for installing wallpaper on the ceiling HERE).

In the room above, painting the wall color up onto the ceiling and then adding the wallpaper in the middle helps to make the ceiling feel taller than it is.

Bedroom ceiling with white wallpaper

Of course, you can always go with a more subdued ceiling wallpaper pattern if you prefer a more understated look, like my mother did in her bedroom.

10. Glue On Faux-Tin Ceiling Tiles

Bathroom with silver faux tin tiles on the ceiling

Don’t feel like painting the ceiling? Our last ceiling design idea is to add faux tin ceiling tiles.

Tin look-a-like styrofoam tiles can be glued to most surfaces. Yes, even popcorn!

Even better? They are also really easy install and most standard sized rooms only take a few hours to complete. Find the tutorial for installing faux tin ceiling tiles HERE.

Kitchen with faux-tin tiles installed on the ceiling

Well that’s it for our easy and unique ceiling design ideas. Hopefully, you have found some ceiling decorating inspiration of your own!

Now if I can only find the time to get that starburst pattern done in my office…

Other Ceiling Decor Ideas You Might Like

Have comments or questions on our ways to decorate the ceiling? Tell us in the section below.

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This post was originally published on August 16, 2017 but was updated with new content on April 9, 2024.

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  1. Eileen Zeigler says:

    I had a weird idea today as I am redoing a 10×15 guest room. I keep thinking light and airy and how to make appear larger. My thought involves back painted glass panels attached to ceiling?! Use molding strips to secure and give a window affect. Wish I could find one done as an example. Any thought on this idea?

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Eileen…It sounds very pretty! You might want to use plexiglass instead of real glass…it’s lighter and less breakable. I haven’t seen anyone do that exact thing, but I think it would look something like the fabric ceiling panels my mother just did in her den. You can see a couple of pictures here: https://www.fromhousetohome.com/how-to-cover-walls-with-fabric/

  2. We started remodeling our furnished basement and took down the awful paneling that was nailed to the ceiling. Due to unfortunate circumstances, we have run out of money to finish the ceiling like I want (for now). What I’m Looking at is the exposed floor joists. Any ideas how to/what to put up on a very tight budget until we can finish it properly?

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Bethann…I think the cheapest solution is to paint it all one color in a matte finish (darker colors will hide the imperfections better). If you don’t want to see the joists, you could get some wide paper sheets (like the kind you use for parties – find it HERE) and staple it up there.

  3. Wanda, many thanks for this post! I’m getting ready to paint my living room, and have been agonizing over the ceiling. Now, I think I know what I’m going to do. The l/r will be a bright sunshiny yellow, as it opens into my d/r-kit, the same color. The fireplace & wall (farthest away from kit) will be a cobalt blue to match the kitchen counters, and I think I’ll put a border around the ceiling of the cobalt, with thin molding and center the same sunshiny yellow. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    1. Hi Lenora…that sounds stunning! I love blue and yellow together. It’s such a cheerful color combination. And I think putting a border around the ceiling to tie the colors together is genius! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. I have a living room/dining room (27’x11′) painted a butter yellow with a medium yellow/green ceiling with brown/green furniture and dining set. The browns and greens with warm yellow is amazing. I get tons of compliments. Great idea, thank you for this info, even though I did the opposite.

    1. Thanks, Tonya! Your living room sounds beautiful! I think adding color to the ceiling always makes a room more interesting 🙂