Want to make a statement? Try this DIY trend and repaint your ceiling in a joyful paint colour with a matching border.
We often forget about them, but interior designers will tell you that the ceiling is the ever-important fifth wall in a room. It might be tempting to leave a ceiling in classic white, but painting it in a different hue can totally transform a room.
When picking a colour, choosing a tone a couple of shades lighter than the walls will elongate the space and give a polished, purposeful finish. Or, for smaller rooms such as studies or snugs, a dark ceiling can provide a sense of cosiness.
If you want to be bold with your interiors choices, a colourful ceiling and matching border is a fun way to make your walls really pop. Plus, it’s a DIY paint trend plenty of interiors influencers have been trying out online, with covetable results.
Whether you choose a pastel blue to give your room a calming feel, or sunshine yellow for an optimistic twist, this trend transforms a ceiling into a design feature in its own right.
Painting the ceiling might feel like a big job, but these tips will help you prep and cover ground quickly to give your chosen room a fresh feel.
Find your inspiration
While the style of a painted ceiling and wall border might be quite straightforward, I like looking at different colour combinations for inspiration. For example, shades of the same colour can look really effective, as can clashing bright colurs.
For example, Rachel of Inspired By Kindness and Style has opted for a multi-tonal pink look, which packs a punch with a near-neon shade on the ceiling and border. While Richard of House Homo has used pale green for a modern edge.
What you’ll need
Once you’ve decided on the look you’d like to achieve, it’s time to get the right tools. This is all the equipment you’ll need to paint your ceiling and add a border:
- Paint roller with paint tray – B&Q, £12
- Small roller tray – B&Q, £3.50
- Extension pole – Wickes, £21
- Paint brush – Wickes, £5.50
- Masking tape – B&Q, £5
- Duster – Amazon, £9.99
- Laser level or spirit level – Amazon, £48.90
- Pencil – Amazon, £2
- Dust sheets – B&Q, £18
- Step ladder (at least five tread) – Amazon, £72.99
- Paint – Graham & Brown, from £46; Farrow & Ball, from £52
Step 1: pick your colour
One of the golden rules of painting a ceiling is to complete it before your main walls, to avoid any spray from fresh paint. So it’s worth considering whether you will be selecting colours just for the ceiling, or if the whole room is getting a new look, and, if so, to hold tight until the ceiling is finished.
My walls were already painted Farrow & Ball’s Nancy’s Blushes, which is a warm, rosy pink. I liked the idea of a calming, sky-blue ceiling, so I chose two litres of Bali Blue from Graham & Brown in an interior eggshell finish.
Step 2: measure out your border
First, decide on the depth of your border and measure from the ceiling downwards. As you can see from the inspiration references, the depth of your border will dictate which shades are most dominant in the room, so consider how prominent you’d like this to be.
If you live in a period property and have cornicing or a picture rail, work with this and use it as your border marker. Otherwise, depending on the height of your room, somewhere between 5-10cm is a good size.
Using a ruler make a pencil mark where you’d like the border to sit. The old-fashioned way of doing this is to simply move your step ladder around the room and mark with pencil as you go, keeping the dots close enough together so you can easily connect them with tape. An easier method is to use a laser level which you can line up to your pencil mark. It will create a laser beam line all the way around the room, saving you from marking this out.
Step 3: protect the floor
Painting a ceiling can get quite messy so it’s important to lay dust sheets over flooring and any furniture. Keep the dust sheets as flat as possible – moving a step ladder around the room with flapping edges from unweighted dust sheets is a recipe for tripping up.
I advise using small objects to weight the dust sheet down and keep the edges close to the floor and skirting board. This is also a good time to tape up any light fixtures in the ceiling.
Step 4: start painting
Lightly dampen a medium sized roller with water – this helps the paint to cling and cuts down on splatter. Attach it to an extension pole and start in one corner of the room, moving it in a W motion. Work in sections across and up the room, avoiding the main light fixture.
Don’t worry if the roller touches the tops of the walls, you’ll neaten this area later when painting your border.
Step 5: tape your border
Whether you have pencil-dotted your border or used a laser level, your masking tape needs to be applied to show the line of your border. High-quality masking tape is crucial to getting a clean edge. Make sure to press down the edge carefully to stop paint seeping underneath.
Ensure continuity around the room by always placing the masking tape just below or directly on to the marker – not just above. Otherwise, you’ll lose track of where the marker is and get a wonky line.
Step 6: paint the border
Fill your smaller, hand-held paint tray with paint and position your step ladder in place. Using a medium-sized paintbrush, start painting the border and fill in any areas where the wall and ceiling meet that the roller couldn’t get to.
Make sure you spread a thick sweep of paint across the masking tape so the line is sharp when you peel it back.
Any light fixtures in the ceiling will need outlining with a paint brush. This is a good time to do this too.
Step 7: let it dry
Let the first coat of paint dry for four to six hours before starting on a second coat. Your ceiling might look patchy in the light, which is why it’s important to wait until the paint has dried before starting again.
Step 8: second coat
Apply a second coat with the roller and extendable pole. Touch up the border with a thin layer of paint using the paintbrush.
Step 9: remove the tape
Peel back the tape while the paint is still wet for a really crisp edge. Pull the tape off slowly at a 45-degree angle and be careful not to rip it.
Step 10: enjoy
Let the room dry for a good 12 hours, preferably overnight, and then plan a get-together with your friends so they can admire your fresh new look.
Images: Megan Murray
Megan Murray is a senior digital writer for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about homeware (particularly candles), travel, food trends, restaurants and all the wonderful things London has to offer.