How to wallpaper a ceiling step-by-step, plus 17 colorful examples of this retro home decor trend that’s making a comeback
In many cases, as you can see in the showcase below, ceiling wallpaper was exactly the same as what they put on the walls — in a way that was certainly not boring, but perhaps a bit overwhelming.
Thanks to innovations in printing technology since that time, you can now hang gorgeously color-saturated wallpaper murals that look insanely realistic. And, believe it or not, wallpaper on the ceiling is not a dead trend.
This decor statement still has its place for those who want to see something more interesting than an expanse of whiteness when they look up in their rooms.
While some ceiling wallpaper these days tends towards more celestial and space themes (cool, right?!), you’ll also see it as an accent wall alternative — and it looks particularly elegant framed in a coffered ceiling. Regardless of the look, wallpaper hanging techniques remain the same as ever.
If you’re thinking of integrating this look in your home, check out the step-by-step wallpaper on ceiling how-to instructions below — and then enjoy these 1970s retro home decor examples we’ve collected!
How to wallpaper a ceiling, step-by-step (1979)
By Larry Geisinger in the Boston Globe (Massachusetts) January 21, 1979
Covering a ceiling is not as easy as hanging a wall, but with a little care (and a little help) you can end up with a perfect job.
Step 1: Remember, a ceiling must always be hung first; the vertical wall strips are added later. However, before the ceiling is covered, the plumb line for the first wall strip should be drawn so you know exactly where the ceiling strip should start.
Step 2: Match this distance at the opposite wall and then draw a pencil line connecting both points on the ceiling by stretching a cord. As with hanging walls, first cut all your strips to length.
Step 3: Prepare a work scaffold; a few planks set at a convenient height is preferred.
Step 4: Start at one end, unfold a booked strip and smooth the strip so the edge matches the ceiling pencil line. Use the palm of your hand to shift the covering where necessary, and then brush flat to remove any air bubbles and also insure good contact for the adhesive to grab.
Step 5: The excess covering that extends down the wall should not be trimmed flush with the corner; rather, it should extend down about 1/2 inch so the wall strips can overlap.
Step 6: To do this, firmly push the covering into the corner and then draw a blunt toothpick across the corner to further crease the strip. Then pull away the strip slightly and cut about 1/2 inch away from the crease with scissors.
Wallpaper a ceiling: Heavy window drapes combined with floral decor (1966)
This room features not only a super shaggy carpet, but also a flowery wallpaper on the ceiling that matches the upholstery.
Wallpaper a ceiling? Ceiling of room should be given more attention (1972)
By Carleton Varney in The Town Talk (Alexandria, Louisiana) March 18, 1972
Recently, while going through the ordeal of a session in the dentist’s chair, I found myself staring at the uninteresting, bland, colorless ceiling, and wondered why more people do not color or paper ceilings.
Naturally, I made my decorative suggestions to my dentist, adding that the room could use an attractive light fixture, too.
Go with a pattern or bright colors for your ceilings. I just painted all the ceilings in a Florida apartment soft turquoise blue to bring the ocean and sky inside. The soft blue ceilings can go with any colored walls, painted or papered, which you may choose.
Have a brightly-colored ceiling in the bedroom
Bedroom ceilings are particularly important in the decorative scene. After all, we spend a lot of time in bedrooms, and shouldn’t we have a colored or gay wallpaper ceiling to look at while relaxing in bed?
Scattered florals or plaids for a wallpapered ceiling
When planning hospital decor, I always recommend scattered floral or plaid designs for the ceilings in the patients’ rooms.
Ceiling wallpaper: Decor for the master bedroom
I use wallpapers on the ceilings in residential decorating almost all the time. For the ceiling of the master bedroom, why not consider a flowered wallpaper — a loosely-scattered floral pattern on a background of white or a soft shade of pink, green or beige.
Have the wallpaper match the drapes and bedding
Select a wallpaper that has a coordinating fabric so the fabric can be used for window valances and draperies as well as bedspreads.
Try to go with light colors
Stay away from dark wallpapers for bedroom ceilings — dark colors tend to make ceilings appear lower.
Ceiling wallpaper decor for kids, too
In children’s rooms, I often use stripes of alternating solid colors to create a tent effect on the ceiling. The tent can be created with paper, vinyl or with fabric, and there are many tent borders of wallpaper or vinyl wallcovering.
Kitchen with a mod pattern on the ceiling wallpaper
Yellow kitchen with a bright matching wallpapered ceiling
Ceiling wallpaper with large white flowers on a black background
Leafy green Forest Glade wallpaper
“It almost makes the room smell fresher.” (green and white wallpaper on the ceiling and walls, with white trim around the room & white wicker furniture)
Gold & black foil wallpaper with white and blue striped blinds?
This retro 70s home decor featured a really questionable combination of the upper wall and ceiling covered with a gold foil and black wallpaper — then custom window blinds with white and blue horizontal stripes.
As a bonus, below the window, there’s a totally different old-fashioned wallpaper pattern.