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6 Ways to Give New Life to Old Ceilings

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Have you ever stumbled upon one of those home pictures that has amazing ceilings and you literally have to pause to take it all in?  We would probably all love to have an architecturally interesting home, but for many of us, our homes come equipped with builder grade square walls and 8ft tall ceilings.  And that’s fine!  The building itself isn’t what makes a house a home, nonetheless, it sure is fun when you can dress it up a bit.

Ceilings are often overlooked in a room because they aren’t usually in our direct line of sight.  After all, most people don’t walk around looking straight up!  But we give so much thought and attention to the floor materials that we choose, the wall color, the furnishings, window coverings, etc., isn’t it odd then that we don’t often give any thought to the ceiling?  If you’re building your home from the ground up or doing a complete remodel, then you have the ability to incorporate ceiling design into your plans.  But even those of us that aren’t can still update our ceilings to give them a custom look.



1. Paint

Paint is an easy and inexpensive way to instantly update the look of a ceiling.  In general, if you want your ceilings to feel taller, choose a lighter color.  If you want them to feel lower {ideal for vaulted spaces that need a more intimate feel}, choose a darker color. When using color on your ceiling, try using a paint color that is a few shades lighter {or darker, depending on your desired look} than what is on your walls to create a cohesive feel.  Even if you prefer plain white ceilings, there are so many shades of white available and sometimes, just changing the shade can give the room an entirely new look!



2. Wallpaper

You can bring pattern, color, and texture to the ceiling with the addition of wallpaper.  As a general rule, larger-scaled patterns work better in large spaces and smaller patterns in small spaces.  Also, if you want to draw attention to a particular feature on the ceiling {such as a skylight or beam}, consider a bold pattern.  If you want the ceiling to feel brighter, airier, and higher, look for a lighter pattern {both color and print}.  If your ceiling is at all sagging or irregular, though, avoid geometrics like stripes that will accentuate irregularities and instead, look for solid colors or organic patterns.

{The pattern used on the ceiliing adds visual interest while maintining the room's open and airy feel. Source}
{The pattern used on the ceiling adds visual interest while maintaining the room’s open and airy feel. Source}
{The ceiling takes center stage in this room with a bold color and pattern! Image via Bravo Interior Design}
{The ceiling takes center stage in this room with a bold color and pattern! Image via Bravo Interior Design}


3. Tin Tiles

Older homes or homes with an old world feel can benefit greatly from the look of tin tiles.  Actually, they are not tiles at all, but rather metal panels that are about 2ftx4ft and can be left natural or painted.  If you opt for a tin ceiling, though, be sure that your space has lots of sound absorbent materials like carpet, window treatments, and upholstered furniture, so as to avoid creating a hollow sounding space that echoes.

{Brooke Giannetti's kitchen ceiling has so much character with its tin tiles.}
{Brooke Giannetti’s kitchen ceiling has so much character with its tin tiles.}



4. Beadboard

While beadboard might seem like a choice for a cottage style home, it is actually quite versatile and fits well in many different styles of homes.  It has has a very clean and timeless look so it can transition with your home as your style and/or color palette changes.  Beadboard is also a great option if you have popcorn ceilings as it will instantly update the look without hours and hours of painful scrapping required!  Run beadboard in the same direction as the flooring to create continuity.  The exception is if your ceiling as a beam, in which case try running the beadboard perpendicular to the beam.

{Traci's mudroom from Beneath My Heart has such a charming and cozy feel to it!}
{Traci’s mudroom from Beneath My Heart has such a charming and cozy feel to it!}



5. Coffered Ceiling {sometimes called Box Beam Ceiling}

Coffered ceilings are a great way to add dimension to a room.  If you have ceilings taller than 8ft., you can use more architecturally detailed grids that create deeper boxes.  For standard 8ft. ceilings, consider using 2×4’s so that you capture the desired look without sacrificing head room.  Color options are limitless, but traditionally, the entire ceiling is either painted white or stained a wood tone, or the rececessed boxes are painted in a color while the beams remain white.

{A tall ceiling allows for extra architectural detail and dimension. Source}
{A tall ceiling allows for extra architectural detail and dimension. Source}
{via Veranda}
{via Veranda}


6. Wood Beams

Just because your house wasn’t built with exposed beams doesn’t mean that you can’t have them.   Many homes with a vaulted ceiling have one central beam running down the center, but adding a few additional beams to the ceiling can make a dramatic difference.  You can also add beams to a flat ceiling for a cozy look.  You can install read wood beams, but that can be pricey.  You can also DIY beams or you can purchase faux wood beams.  Faux  “beams” are made from polyurethane, making them lightweight and easy to work with.  They can be painted or stained and come in a variety of wood grains and styles.

Wood Beams in Bedroom

{via Cape Cod Designs}
{via Cape Cod Designs}



Even though the ceiling is rarely a room’s focal point, it is still am important feature of the home and can benefit from a bit of detail and/or color.  A few updates can easily breath new life into your old ceilings and give them a custom look!

Tidbits&Twine - Signature



  1. I love the color choice for the powder room (first picture above under paint) Would it be possible to know the name of paint for the ceiling as well as the wallpaper name?


    1. Tidbits&Twine says:

      Hi Amanda – I agree! It’s beautiful! You’ll need to click the source link under the picture and ask the builder directly, though, as I don’t know what materials they used. :) Kim

  2. Do you have any idea where I could find that mirror in the picture under 1. Paint? I’m obsessed!!!!

  3. Kim,
    This post gave me some great ideas. That last kitchen is in my files as an all time favorite! I like the nursery with the wallpapered ceiling. That made that room pop and yet didn’t make the room feel too busy.
    Great post.

    1. Tidbits&Twine says:

      Hi Karen – Isn’t that nursery amazing?! Plus, I was thinking it would give the little ones something to look up at while in their crib. :)

  4. Believe it or not, I painted our kitchen ceiling a pale, pale pink. I love it! Hubby wasn’t too thrilled at first but he doesn’t even notice it anymore. My favorite thing is when we have company over and they look up. :)

  5. Hi, I love this post. So often that “5th Wall” is ignored! Just wanted to add, for those who are looking to make a change on a budget – you can now buy beadboard wallpaper! Imagine! So much cheaper than the real thing. Tin ceiling tiles now come in plastic 24′ x 24″ squares that you glue to the existing ceiling. Easier and cheaper than the real thing. In addition, the beams, now come in foam, lighter, cheaper and easier to install.
    DIYing is becoming so much better!

    1. Tidbits&Twine says:

      Hi Pat – I love beadboard wallpaper! I just installed it in the back of my cabinet and you’re right, it’s a great alternative to the real deal. Good to know about the plastic squares, too. Thanks so much for sharing and have a great weekend!

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