Interior Designers Are Putting Wallpaper on the Ceiling—Here's What to Know Before Trying This Trend

Add a splash of maximalism to your home by taking patterns up and over your four walls.

Bruno Sand wallpaper in kitchen and on ceiling

Courtesy of Rebel Walls

Wallpapering has been around for literal centuries—since the 1600s, to be exact—but within that span, its popularity has waxed and waned. Thanks to a rise in maximalism, wallpaper is enjoying quite the modern resurgence. People are using it on walls as intended, yes, but it's also being utilized in furniture makeovers, on large appliances like refrigerators, and even on ceilings. 

"Wallpapering ceilings is an easy way of embracing maximalism without a complete overhaul," says Malka Helft, founder of Think Chic Interiors. "It's perfect for those looking for an injection of color and pattern that can be implemented quickly."

It's also a nod to early 19th-century design, when adorned and patterned ceilings were the norm—but what is old is new again. "This trend has gained traction in residential spaces as we are finding new ways to express ourselves and create unique stories in our homes," says Jill Elliott, founder of Color Kind Studio. "I love the unexpected accent of a wallpapered ceiling. It draws the eye up, making the room feel both expansive and cozy, and really sets the energy and mood of a space." 

If you're toying with the idea of adding wallpaper to a ceiling in your home, follow this advice before choosing a pattern (we're partial to the abstract iteration from Rebel Walls, above) and getting started on the application process.

It Can Be Used in Small or Large Rooms  

A perk to this trend is that you can truly incorporate it anywhere in your home. It can quickly add intrigue to a small space—like an entryway, powder room, or closet—while making a major splash in larger areas, such as dining rooms, bedrooms, living rooms, and kitchens. "Any room is great, but we particularly love seeing it in bedrooms where it can be enjoyed laying down. It makes you feel enveloped in a cozy, beautiful space," says Elizabeth Rees, co-founder of Chasing Paper. She also recommends trying it in unexpected spaces, since it can transform kitchens or bathrooms into a "jewel box." 

Opt for Traditional Wallpaper vs. Peel and Stick 

When possible, choose a traditional wallpaper applied with paste instead of a peel and stick option. The former is more malleable, which allows for greater flexibility while it's still wet. "Because the wallpaper will be installed horizontally instead of vertically, traditional wallpaper will ensure it stays put," says Rees.

That said, peel and stick can still work in small spaces, like closets or powder rooms. Just make sure you've adequately prepared the space. "Especially with peel and stick wallpaper, it is vital to ensure a smooth, flat, and clean surface prior to installation," says Hannah Reach, the marketing communications coordinator at WallPops. Any popcorn or abstract textures will interfere with adhesion." If you're using peel and stick, also let it acclimate to the space for 48 hours before final application.  

Choose the Right Pattern for Your Space 

Just like color, wallpaper patterns can have a huge impact on our energy and mood. Take your time picking a pattern that fits your space and evokes the emotion you want. Elliott recommends ordering a swatch and living with it in the space for a bit before installing. "Notice how the color changes in the light throughout the day, how the pattern makes you feel when you're in the space, and how it plays with your other furnishings and materials," she says.

Also factor in existing room details so the wallpaper feels like a natural tie-in. "Consider if you'd like the wallcovering to complement or contrast with the wall color, trim, and window treatments," interior designer Kate Marker says. "These elements should work together to form a cohesive and welcoming space."

Consider Incorporating Texture, Instead

If you like the idea of wallpapering your ceiling, but want something subtler, consider a textured neutral. "Textured wallpaper can add a subtle, yet impactful dose of dimension," says Reach. For example, there are tweed, grasscloth, and embossed options.

How to Prepare the Ceiling  

Wallpapered ceilings take a bit more prep and patience to DIY compared to vertical walls. As is the case with any project, you'll want to set yourself up for success. 

  • Clean: Make sure the ceilings have been cleaned and are dry to the touch. 
  • Prime: Prime your ceiling with a wallpaper primer and allow 24 hours to cure. 
  • Mark: "Create a guide with a pencil and measuring tape to lightly mark on the ceiling where each panel should go," Rees advises. "This will help you install the wallpaper evenly, allowing the installation process to go quicker and smoother." 

Have Fun With It 

Once the space has been prepped, you can apply your wallpaper strip by strip. Take your time and accept that you'll likely need to correct some mistakes along the way. Wallpaper can be finicky, so having a friend at your side can make the job easier. "Remember there is no right or wrong in your home—it's all about how you want to feel in your space, and how you intend to use it," says Elliott.

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