11 Stunning Decorative Ceiling Ideas for Modern Homes

Last year we started seeing the trend of painting the ceiling appear (apologies if you are way ahead of the game and painted it years ago. You trendsetter you!) and I wasn’t sure if it was something I could get on board with.

What color to paint it, to begin with? Did you just extend the wall paint, wasn’t that too much? Who wants the added stress of painting the fifth “wall” when you’ve already got enough on your plate with the existing four?

Interior designers will always include ceiling design in their plans, it is very important to a room’s scheme and no surface goes untouched. So, how to choose what design will work best?

There are so many exciting options now when it comes to decorating and ceiling ideas. We can say goodbye to the artexed days of old and hooray to seeing more decorative and inspiring things happening above our heads.

Decorative Ceiling Ideas

a sage green bathroom panelled walls, vintage artwork and textured wallpaper on the ceiling
Using textured wallpaper on the ceiling can be the finish a bathroom needs!

Ceilings are often overlooked in the grand scheme of interior design, however, they play a crucial role in completing a room’s look and feel. Just as walls can be painted, textured, or adorned with various embellishments, so can ceiling design.

Here are 11 decorative ceiling ideas to get you started: 

1. The Wallpapered Ceiling

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How WOW does that wallpaper look against the dark backdrop? Image: @layered.home

The ceiling is an endless space of design opportunities when thinking about wallpapering, anything goes! You can keep your room plain white with soft hues and then add a bold print. Or you could paint your room dark colours and extend it onto the ceiling with a dark floral wallpaper which will add texture and pattern and create a feature within the room.

a loft bedroom with skylight windows, grey cloud-like wallpaper on the ceiling and a rattan headboard.
You’ll be sure to get sweet dreams in this room! Credit: @oakappledecor Wallpaper: Cole & Son

If you want a calmer feel to a room, perhaps a bedroom, whimsical scenes like floating clouds or nature-inspired landscapes are perfect. Forget counting sheep, your wallpaper could soothe you into slumber.

Putting up wallpaper is not for the faint-hearted though! If you feel confident, go for it, but I would suggest using removable wallpaper if possible. It’s not only easier to install, but you won’t have the dreaded wallpaper paste dripping on your head! Plus, you can also pull it down easily if you decide it’s too much!

I’ve actually started to enjoy putting up wallpaper, but I would definitely hire a professional to do it, who would probably curse me the minute I explained what I wanted to do!

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Beautiful Botanical Nursery – Credit: @threeboysandapinkbath

If you are going to put up wallpaper and have a dado rail, maybe think about bringing the wallpaper down to the rail to make a real feature out of the ceiling. 

2. Painted Ceiling

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Bold blue and pink working together with a painted ceiling. Credit: @maxmademedoit Photo Credit: Brooke Harwood

I have a feeling that most people will not fancy dangling from a step ladder arguing with the wallpaper paste bucket, so will go for the easier(ish) option of painting the ceiling. This is a fantastic way of creating a big impact in a room and experimenting with color.

If you want to be bold with paint in a room, but feel that bright paint on all four walls may be too much, painting the ceiling instead can really add that wow factor without it being too overwhelming.

If you have a neutral-toned room, add some bright art and soft furnishings and pick a color from these items to color match the ceiling design.

Create a contrast by painting the four walls a block colour which finishes a metre below the ceiling and then add a different colour to the last metre and ceiling. If you are lucky enough to live in an old Victorian house with a picture rail, you can use this to create a perfect two-tone room.

a black ceiling in a white bedroom with white painted floorboards and built in wardrobes
The black ceiling has no impact on the light in this bohemian room Image: @theresa_gromski

I think dark, inky tones create a wonderfully intimate space in a room and are perfect for rooms that have lots of natural light.

If your ceilings are low, painting your ceiling black can give the illusion of more space, just make sure you keep the rest of the room in neutral shades like whites, taupes, or creams so that it doesn’t become too dark.  

a sage green kitchen with wooden kitchen cabinets, wallpaper backsplash and a large white sash window
This wonderful kitchen has picked out the sage in the wallpaper and painted the ceiling to make it look cohesive and like it’s always meant to be. Image: Stitch Craze Sage Wallpaper Graham & Brown

You can even decide to paint the ceiling when wallpapering a room. Pick the wallpaper first and then choose a color from the pattern to paint the ceiling, pulling the room together beautifully.

a bedroom with a dark orange ceiling and salmon pink walls. There is a pink velvet bed with silk mustard bedding and a large abstract rug
Sofie showing yet again how decorated ceilings should be done! Image: @threeboysandapinkbath

3. Get Experimental with a Painted Ceiling

a bedroom with a green wall and pink stripe going up the middle, behind the bed and across the ceiling
Color blocking is a simple ceiling idea! Image: @sevenpalmtreehouse

If a completely painted ceiling feels like too much work, or you don’t want the hassle of painting a 5th wall, how about getting experimental with your ceiling design? Color blocking has been a huge trend in 2023 and this can easily be extended into the ceiling. 

There are so many color block ceiling ideas you could experiment with. You can carry the wall color up into the ceiling to provide a cohesive look or add different colors to contrast your wall.

This is a really good idea if you want to highlight something on your ceiling or zone an area. You could paint a stripe to incorporate your ceiling lights, highlight a zone like a dining table in an open plan room, or continue the color from a chimney breast up onto the ceiling. 

4. Flat on a Hot Tin Roof

a dining room with large oak table and statement chairs. There is a wood burner in a inglenook and tin tiles on the ceiling.
Kate keeps the rest of this beautiful space quite neutral so your eyes are automatically drawn up to these amazing tiles. Although the ceiling is quite low, the light and reflection make you feel that the room is a lot larger than it is. Credit: @mad_about_the_house

Using tin tiles adds wonderful texture to a ceiling and can come in many colors. Metallic hues, calming whites and creams, and even a bit of rust here and there can create a beautiful patina on your ceiling. This will also allow light to bounce around your room and create wonderful reflections.

If you are going to use such a bold statement as tin tiles on the ceiling, it is best to keep the rest of the room quite neutral so that your eyes are automatically drawn up.

a white bathroom with white bath tub, subway tiles and a tin tiled roof
Danielle created a wonderful space in this bathroom, which is quite a small and dark room by adding tin tiles. Image: @addictedtohouse Photo Credit: Jeremy Philips

5. Wood and Timber

a green living room with slate flooring, black bath tub and wood panelling on the ceiling surrounding the skylights
Clad your ceiling in timber to give a room a botanical and natural vibe.

A bit like the old open beams in cottages, wood, and timber is a timeless way to add character to your fifth wall. If you are blessed with high ceilings, a timber ceiling can provide an amazing contrast to a room, especially if you keep the décor pared back and use natural materials like stone and concrete.

6. Exposed Wooden Beams

a small kitchen with exposed ceiling beams and oak flooring

If you really want to make your ceiling a feature of a room, but don’t fancy painting, wallpapering, or cladding, leave the ceiling joints exposed which can add texture, height, and rich character to any room.

When we renovated our kitchen, the old ceiling was taken down which exposed the ceiling joists and I absolutely loved the look, but we couldn’t make it work with the rest of the room as it was only one section of the ceiling.

However, exposed wooden beams can be implemented in many different interior design styles, from rustic farmhouses to modern contemporary. You can accentuate the beams using track lighting or mount spotlights on them to highlight certain areas or artwork below.

Painting the area between beams a contrasting color can make them stand out more, depending on the color of the beams. You can mix different textures in the room to complement the rough texture of the wooden beams such as oak flooring, wooden furniture, or jute rugs. 

7. DIY Ceiling

a monochrome nursery with geometric patterns on the ceiling, a large round mirror and a grey rocking chair
Monochrome Geometric removable wallpaper providing ceiling ideas – Livettes Wallpaper

If you’ve read all of the above and thought, “Pah, my ceiling deserves better”, why not try and be experimental and create a ceiling to end all ceilings?

Over the last few years, we have seen creative decorators come up with new and inspiring ways to decorate their walls, including using frog tape to create geometric prints in their homes, block painting, and ombre effect.

Why not try this in your ceiling design? It would create a wonderful contrast to neutral tones and make you instantly look up! You could paint geometric patterns on the ceiling, or go for tribal prints with hand-drawn shapes.

8. Enhance Your Lighting

a blue/grey living room with ornate detailing, a marble fireplace with artwork above it, two velvet sofas and a crystal chandelier
The ceiling has gold details added to compliment this stunning brass and crystal chandelier.

Either choose your lighting first and come up with a pattern to compliment it, or let your creative juices flow and create a room around it. I love how this room’s statement piece is the chandelier and it feels like the room has grown around it, with the ceiling design incorporating gold detailing and brass elements in the furnishings and artwork.

You don’t have to go as elaborate as this, however. Choose a chandelier or pendant light that is the right size and fit for your room and try and go for something that is unique in design, size, or color. Consider materials like colored glass, crystal, metals, or even fabrics that catch the eye and then incorporate these materials into the rest of the room. 

Finally, enhance the area around the fixture with a decorative ceiling medallion (or rose). This architectural feature can make the ceiling light appear even more grand and centered.

a firework style statement light fitting in a living room with wood panelled walls
Industrial Style Fireworks LED Ceiling Light – thelightzey.com

If your room has low ceilings, a chandelier or pendant light might not work. Look for light fittings that are flat to the ceiling, but still have that wow factor. 

9. Recessed LED Lighting

a modern living room with a media center, ceiling cloud with LED lighting and a large white corner sofa
A suspended ceiling design (a dropped area of a ceiling) helps create an area to illuminate with LED lighting, making the room feel more luxurious.

Recessed lighting is a popular choice in contemporary ceiling designs due to its sleek look and energy efficiency. You can embed these lights into the ceiling to give it an unobtrusive and clean look. 

 If you are considering putting LED lighting into a room, perhaps think about dropping part of the ceiling to make it a real feature of the room. This is particularly popular in flats and apartments as the suspended ceiling can act as a sound barrier, stopping sound from traveling to other apartments. 

10. Add Architectural Details

a living room with paneled walls in neutral colours, white sofas, vintage artwork, and architectural details added to the ceiling.
If your living room is lacking features, adding paneling and incorporating it into your ceiling design can completely change its look

A coffered ceiling is a series of sunken panels (coffers) arranged in a grid pattern, often of squares or rectangles, but occasionally of more intricate shapes.

The alternating recessed panels and raised beams give the ceiling a three-dimensional look, adding layers and depth to the room.

While they add undeniable grandeur, coffered ceilings can make a room with a low ceiling feel even more confined. They’re best suited for rooms with a decent ceiling height. Also, due to the labor and materials involved, installing a coffered ceiling can be more expensive than other ceiling treatments.

11. Beadboard/Wainscoting Ceiling Design

a living room with wainscoting and beadboard ceiling. The ceiling joists are exposed and painted white

While wainscoting is traditionally associated with walls, particularly as a protective or decorative element in hallways or dining rooms, placing it in your ceiling design might seem unconventional. However, it can lend a distinctive and unexpected design element to your ceiling and is hugely popular in contemporary and farmhouse design. 

If wainscoting is used on the walls, continuing it onto the ceiling can create a sense of continuity and enclosure, especially in smaller or uniquely shaped rooms. Wainscoting is also a good idea if your ceiling has blemishes, unevenness, or other defects, helping to mask the problems, and is one of the cheapest ceiling ideas without extensive repair work.

a blue living room with nature and cloud wallpaper on the ceiling
A decorated ceiling with a mural that matches the colors of this bedroom. I could easily fall asleep looking at this view!

So, what do you think? Are you going to take your decorating to the next level and introduce some color and pattern to your ceiling design? There are a few on my hit list in our house at the moment, so watch this space.

Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will receive a very small commission if you click through and make a purchase. These links help to pay the editorial costs of writing a blog. For more information, please read my full affiliate disclosure here.

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