Ceiling Wallpaper Ideas — The 8 Ways Designers Are Using Pattern Overhead That Will Inspire a Room Makeover

While the default is to paint your ceiling white, designers all agree that you’re missing out on making a statement if you don't consider wallcovers for your 'fifth wall'

attic between with blue floral ceiling wallpaper
(Image credit: Sean Litchfield. Design: Casagrande Studio)

Our ceilings are too often neglected as a design element. The default is to paint them white and focus our attention elsewhere, but lately I’ve been wondering if we could be missing out on something.

Well, it turns out we are, and I'm talking ceiling wallpaper. Referred to as the ‘fifth wall’ in design speak, the options are endless when it comes to clever ceiling decorating ideas, but this is the one that's exciting us most right now.

'I believe that any room could benefit from ceiling wallpaper,' says Elizabeth Rees, co-founder of popular wallpaper brand, Chasing Paper. 'Since this aspect of the room is typically left plain, it is the perfect canvas to play with your design and make it stand out.'


Apart from adding a decorative element to your space, this creative wallpaper idea can also offer other design benefits too. ‘For example, if you have a really tall tray ceiling and add in a dark wallpaper, it can help make the room feel cozier,’ says interior designer Jodi Peterman, founder of Elizabeth Erin Design. ‘If you want the room to appear taller, adding a lighter colored ceiling wallpaper with a print will help to draw your eye up in the space.’

And if you still need convincing, ceiling wallpaper was everywhere at New York Design Week this year. To help you discover how you could use this design trick in your home, here are eight stylish ceiling wallpaper ideas used by designers.

1. Tie together the color scheme

traditional entryway with wallpaper on ceiling and walls

(Image credit: Genevieve Garruppo. Design: Phillip Thomas Inc)

In the entryway seen above, New York City-based interior designer Phillip Thomas has playfully incorporated a subtle floral wallpaper across the walls and ceiling, giving the effect that the vine is slowly enveloping the room. It adds a sense of restrained whimsy to otherwise very traditional space.

'Ceiling wallpaper can be a creative way to reinforce the color palette of a space,' Phillip adds, noting how the red and brown tones of the wallpaper print pick up on the upholstered chairs and rich walnut timbers in the space, tying it all together.

2. Choose "all-angle" designs

living room with textured wall, rug, ceiling wallpaper, beige cabinets and blue sofa

(Image credit: Eric Piasecki/OTTO. Design: Mendelson Group)

Unlike when used across walls, wallpapered ceilings have the potential to be viewed from various angles, so it's important to choose a print that won't appear upside down at any point. With that in mind, Gideon Mendelson, founder and creative director of the New York-based Mendelson Group, says he tends to lean towards geometric patterns and textures.

And while he thinks ceiling wallpaper works in almost any space in the home, he particularly likes it in entryways and foyers, powder rooms and kid's play rooms (such as the sophisticated scheme shown above). 'These spaces are the perfect place to incorporate a fun design that speaks to the client’s personality,' says Gideon.


attic kids bedroom with green walls and ceiling wallpaper

(Image credit: Chasing Paper x Jenni Yolo)

There are certain spaces around the home that tend to be prone to low ceilings, like attic rooms or lofts. As there is nothing you can really do about it, you might as well embrace it through your design choices, and ceiling wallpaper can be a great way to do that.

In this attic bedroom, featuring Chasing Paper's 'Chickadee Birds' collaboration print with Jenni Yolo of I Spy DIY, the sloped ceilings have been embraced, and wallpapered in the whimsical pattern. 'Wallpaper on the ceiling is a fun way to draw the eye up, or create a cozy environment like in this attic bedroom,' says Jenni.

'Ceiling wallpaper works well in spaces where people spend a lot of time look up, such as bedrooms,' adds consumer advocate Kerry Sherin. 'It is also effective in small spaces where it can add visual interest without overwhelming the space.'


modern farmhouse style kitchen with ceiling wallpaper in butler's pantry

(Image credit: Margaret Rajic. Design: Eric Drozd)

A small scullery between the formal dining room and kitchen of a Parisian-style home (shown above) presented Eric Drozd, founder of Chicago-based interior design firm Drozd Design, with a challenge. 'I wanted this space to be more than a utilitarian hallway,' he explains.

The solution? 'A show-stopping wallcovering on the ceiling,' says Eric. 'This space is no longer a hallway, but an experience. In the evening, this room is dimly lit, with the light fixture casting a stunning glow up onto the ceiling.'


kids bedroom with blue wall detail and ceiling wallpaper

(Image credit: Trevor Parker. Design: McGovern Project)

After discovering his client's love of wallpaper, interior designer Chris McGovern, founder of New York City-based studio McGovern Project, sought to find creative ways to incorporate the design element throughout their home.

Inspired by his friend and fellow designer, Gaby Gargano of Grisoro Studio, Chris chose to combine a color blocking paint design with a playful wallpapered ceiling in one of the kids' bedrooms. 'I wanted something that inspired creativity and reflected her vibrant personality,' Chris explains. 'I thought this was so fun and creative.'


bedroom with matching wallpaper on ceiling and walls and lime green accent colors

(Image credit: Anna Spaller. Design: Chasing Paper x The Interior Collective)

Wallpapering your ceiling and walls in the same print not only saves you from painting them, but is actually a clever design trick — just like painting your ceiling and walls the same color — that can blur the lines in a room, leading to it feeling bigger than it may actually be.

'In smaller rooms, or rooms with slanted ceilings, you may want to create the feeling of more space,' explains designer Phillip Thomas. 'Using ceiling paper that is textural or a small scale pattern can trick the eye into perceiving more height.'

In the bedroom shown above, a print from Chasing Paper's collaboration with The Interior Collective, has been papered across this walls and ceiling, creating a more cozy and enveloping space and distracting from the fact that the ceilings are actually quite low.

7. Add depth to a color drenched look

blue kitchen corner with marble counter, wallpaper on walls and ceiling

(Image credit: Michael Mundy. Design: Phillip Thomas Inc)

‘Ceiling wallpaper adds an unexpected element of design that draws the eye upward, creating a sense of depth and interest,’ adds Kerry Sherin, a consumer advocate at Ownerly, a leading home valuation company. ‘It can complement the existing decor, tie together color scheme, and add texture.’

In this moody kitchen pantry, designed by Phillip Thomas, the patterned blue wallpaper on the ceiling pulls together the entire scheme — the marble counters, the navy blue kitchen cabinets, and the alternative blue patterned wallpaper on the walls — giving the whole space a jewel box-like look. If the ceiling was simply painted the same color as the walls and cabinetry, it would be a less rich feeling overall.


bedroom with ceiling wallpaper

(Image credit: Sean Litchfield. Design: Casagrande Studio)

Whether it's a tray ceiling, coffered ceiling, or one with a unique feature such as faux beams, a ceiling that's not just a square can often be considered architectural and something worth accentuating. In this instance, ceiling wallpaper can work wonders, drawing the eye up and highlighting the unique or unexpected details.

'This bedroom has the most incredible ceiling and I thought since the room is already in the trees, let's add flowers to the great big ceiling,' shares Cecilia Casagrande, owner and principal designer of Boston-based interior design studio, Casagrande Studio. 'In this case, the ceiling was so grand that a ceiling wallpaper was a must-do.'

attic bedroom wallpaper ceiling ideas

(Image credit: Sean Litchfield. Design: Casagrande Studio)


‘I recommend reserving bold wallpaper prints for smaller spaces such as a powder room, and choose something more subtle for a space such as a bedroom or dining room,’ says Chasing Paper’s Elizabeth Rees.

'Designs that work best for ceiling wallpaper are typically subtle and not overly intricate,' adds Kerry Sherin. 'Light colors, small geometric patterns, and soft floral designs can create a soothing effect without overwhelming the space.'

It's also important to consider the specific room you're thinking about wallpapering in order to determine what style of wallpaper will work better. You need to think about how high the walls are, how big the room is, and how much natural light it gets.

'Ceiling wallpaper can affect the perception of room height and size by creating visual illusions,' continues Kerry. 'Lighter colors and vertical patterns can make a room feel taller and more spacious, while darker colors and intricate patterns can create a cozier, more intimate atmosphere.'


Elizabeth Rees believes every room could benefit from ceiling wallpaper. 'One of my favorite spaces to incorporate ceiling wallpaper is a powder room, creating an unexpected jewel box moment,' she says.

But she also warns that it's best to avoid rooms that are frequently exposed to moisture, such as a bathroom or kitchen.

Emma Breislin
Interiors Editor

Emma is Livingetc's Interiors Editor. She formerly worked on Homes To Love, one of Australia's leading interiors websites, where she wrote for some of the country's top titles including Australian House & Garden and Belle magazine. Before that she was the Content Producer for luxury linen brand, CULTIVER, where she nurtured a true appreciation for filling your home with high-quality and beautiful things. Outside of work hours, Emma can often be found elbow-deep at an antique store, moving her sofa for the 70th time or mentally renovating every room she walks into. Having just moved to London, she's currently starting from scratch when it comes to styling her home, which, while to many may sound daunting, to her, is invigorating.