Staring at the Ceiling

I am writing this post with a bit of a neck cramp.  
I spent the weekend painting not one, but two really big ceilings in my house. 

  I went to town adding lots of decorative stripes and pattern overhead.
Despite the "pain in the neck", the end result was so worth it.

More often than not, the ceiling in a room is overlooked and painted in basic white.
There is such an opportunity to take a good space and make it great by adding color or pattern to this "fifth wall".
You can go the subtle route with a pale tint, or be bold & dramatic with brights and pattern.  Either way, you will draw the eye upward to an area that otherwise might not get a second glance.

I'm a big fan of painted ceilings.
Many of you might remember my old kitchen with its diagonal striped ceiling:

After we took down a few walls and did some remodeling I was left with a half striped room where the wall was taken down... 

I was a little heartbroken and sad to see it get plastered and painted white because it was one of my favorite design elements in my house. It was also a major "labor of love".  
(I striped it during a 95 degree heatwave with no A/C.)

My newly plastered ceiling was white for about three days before I ran to True Value.  
I was determined to replace my beloved stripes.  I picked up several rolls of painter's tape.  
My favorites are Scotch Blue Painter's Tape for Delicate Surfaces (doesn't lift existing paint) and Frog Tape Pro Painter's Tape (best for keeping paint from bleeding under the tape).   I also grabbed a few quarts of paint in some favorite hues, a gallon of white ceiling paint* and some 4" foam rollers.  

Painting a ceiling is very easy, and it is something that you can accomplish in less than a day.
I did two rooms that measured about 30' x 16' in a weekend.   I don't recommend it for your neck's sake, but an average room is totally doable.  

Since I am a fan of change I decided to mix it up a bit with pattern.  Instead of the old diagonal stripes,
 I was going to try a staggered horizontal stripe to balance out the long length of my new room.
I have long admired this space in the Avalon Hotel designed by Kelly Wearstler, and the fact that it was in a similar tone to what I was doing made my visualizing and decision a snap. 

I would once again be going with a shade lighter than my 'Woodlawn Blue' walls.  
*(This is where the white ceiling paint comes in handy.)*
  The color on your ceiling will always read a bit darker than it would on your walls since it is in shadow and tends to gray out.  I like to start by picking my "ideal color", what you want it to read (in this case Woodlawn Blue) and mixing it one part paint with two or three parts ceiling white. 
The color may seem drastically lighter, but don't worry.
Here is an example:
My door color is True Value's 'Muted Tune'.
(see door and edges of paint tray)
I took that color and added 3 parts ceiling white to lighten it.  It looks much lighter,
but once it dried it resembled the door color since it was in shadow.

The next decision is stripe size.  I went with 5" wide.
One way to help visualize scale is to cut strips out of paper and tape them up to find a size you like.
Once you have a stripe size determined, measure that distance and mark along the edges of opposite walls of your room starting at adjacent corners.  To get straight lines I used a chalk line with chalk dust in a similar color to what I would be painting (blue chalk in my case).  My husband held one end and I held the other and we snapped lines every 5" on our mark lines.
Please pardon the quality of some of these pictures,
it was pretty late at night and hard to get a good shot!

To create the staggered look I had to divide the ceiling into three parts, 
running in the opposite direction of my original stripes.  
(In an attempt to keep this somewhat comprehendible, let's call the first set of stripes that run horizontally "A" and these two long vertical stripes "B")
I determined their widths, measured in from the side walls and snapped new lines.  
I taped these (B) first:
Then I cut these (B) tape lines every 5" along the chalk lines (A) that ran perpendicular underneath them.  I peeled off every other section and staggered them:
 The last step was joining each section to create the horizontal lines:
 Finally comes the fun part. 
Take your time and be sure to roll each section well. 
It gets confusing so I like to make a little "X" in pencil on the segments that will be painted.
 Once dry, pull the tape carefully.  
If you happen to pull off any of your original paint, touch up with a small brush.
 To conserve tape I reused several segments since they were the perfect size already.
I just would move them up a few lines!
 The final ceiling added color and texture to the newly enlarged area off my kitchen 
and connected the two spaces.

 Speaking of connecting spaces...
 I had a big living room off to this area with another "sea of white" overhead.  I didn't want the two  ceilings to compete so I opted for a double banding. 

This was SO much easier than the last ceiling, so I recommend this for beginners!
Start by cutting a piece of wood or cardboard the distance you would like your banding to begin from your wall.  Trace this distance around your perimeter of your room:
 Tape along your penciled edge:
 I used segments of 1 1/2" tape alongside this to act as a spacer guide to keep my tape straight:
(If you want a thinner or thicker banding use a different sized tape.)
  The second stripe of my banding was going to be 1" wide, so I used 1" tape for that step.
I then cleaned up the corners with a utility knife:
To create the decorative corners I took a square piece of paper and traced it along each corner:

Tape along this new lines:
Add "tape" spacers to mimic your banding width like you did
when you were adding your second row of tape a few steps back:
Tape alongside the spacers and then remove them:
You will now want to cut away the areas you don't want.
I drew lines to show the direction of the pattern.  You can actually do this on your ceiling since you  will be painting over this area.
Cut and peel:
And you have a decorative corner!
Now paint and peel:
That is it!
FYI- I kept my "bump out" corners simple...
 and my inside corners decorative.

I hope this inspires you to paint a ceiling
and think about that space above your head a little differently.

For more paint project ideas, visit or follow True Value on Pinterest.

I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program as well as writing about my experience. I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.


House of Pemberley said...

You. Are. Amazing. These ceilings are outstanding. Bravo!

Dana Frieling said...

I hope you had a big 'o massage waiting for you on Monday! They're greatness, Danika!

My Interior Life said...

You make it look so simple. But I know I would f it up somehow. Love them both. Now, go get a massage for that neck cramp!

pam {simple details} said...

That did it, I'm definitely inspired!! :)

Donna Benedetto said...

Coming from one decorative artist to another, oh the neck....I can totally commiserate it is painful but your end result is knock out.
Both ceilings are stunning!

Jane @ urbanejane. said...

Holy crap, that looks amazing. Now I keep staring at my ceilings thinking how I could paint them. lol
thanks for the inspiration!

-Jane @

Kerry Steele- Design du Monde said...

That is beyond marvelous! I am sure I would not have the patience but Bravo to you!

kayce hughes said...

Fabulous as always!

Unknown said...

Wow. I love this post so much. Am about to have my sons room painted and am going to steal this idea for his ceiling. Sorry not sorry!
:-) said...

Amazing! I love that gold outline!!!! My neck hurts just thinking about painting that. So worth it though :) xo Kristin

Miss Cindy said...

It's crazy the work you do! Truly an artist..I was thinking of painting my Ikea Table marble like you did and I thought again, maybe a bit too ambitious? Love the ceiling though!!

monika said...

You're my hero; all this and a full-on manicure! Yeah, I've thought about painting the ceiling but the (literal) pain in the neck scares me.... But I do enjoy looking at yours. Nice job!

custom home toronto said...

Amazing and unique painting, how you did this one?

Unknown said...

You have the master mind to paint and decorating. I liked your post and i love your blog also. Thanks for sharing with us. Living Room Decor Ideas

awal.ny said...

Wow, that ceiling is awesome. And I thought stripes on the wall were great, you took it to another level. Alaina

Amanda @ Our Humble Abode said...

Wow! Talk about attention to detail and being a DIY warrior! That is amazing!

Steve said...

That has to take a ridiculous amount of patience, but it's fantastic work. Good job. Normally we just think about how the lighting from the ceiling affects us, but clearly the design can as well.


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