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Trend We Love: Statement Ceilings

The days of ceilings being an afterthought—or forgotten altogether—are over. Today, they're part of a room's design, even stepping out as focal points. Thinking about branching out from the usual white? Here's a few looks and ideas we love for this so-called fifth wall.

Wallpaper

Contrary to its name, wallpaper isn't just for walls. In fact, ceilings have become the "it" spot for adding pattern and interest. A papered ceiling is an unexpected design moment that can set the tone for an entire room. It's a natural in a bedroom, where you can create a cozy, cocooning effect with a dark or dramatic pattern or inject some fun or interest for when you're lying in bed. If a large room seems daunting, ease in. Try wallpapering a ceiling in a space that doesn't get a lot of love, such as a hallway. A small powder room or a kitchen where wall space is taken up with cabinets are also good candidates.

Before you start shopping for a pattern, though, size up your ceiling. Heavily textured surfaces (think popcorn ceilings) don't always lend themselves well to wallpaper because the paper may not adequately adhere. Also know your skill level. Whether you choose a trendy "removable" peel-and-stick covering or traditional wallpaper that requires paste (or water to activate the paste), wallpapering a ceiling is a feat. If budget allows, hire a pro to install it. If you're committed to trying it yourself, smaller scale patterns tend to be more forgiving of installation and alignment mistakes.

Metallic Glaze

If you've got it, flaunt it. A tray ceiling—or any ceiling with architectural interest—begs for something special. A metallic finish works the magic on this ceiling, giving the dining room its glam and also a bit of reflective glitz when the light above the table is turned on. The trick is to add depth. First paint the white ceiling with a base coat that's close to the color of the metallic finish. Here, a flat brown base coat started the transformation. The metallic glaze (Benjamin Moore Studio Finishes Metallic Glaze 620) that followed was painted in a loose X pattern for just-right texture.

Paint

The easiest way to make a splash on a ceiling? Just grab a gallon or two of paint from the store. A kid's room is a great place to start. By nature, these spaces are whimsical, fun, and daring. Plus, what child wouldn't love to drift off with a fun color overhead? Take your pick of looks: bold or subdued. In the nursery, above left, the sunny yellow ceiling commands attention. Sure, the room would have been cute with just its fairytale-inspired wall design. But the happy color overhead brings the "wow"—it's a game-changer. (Just cover the yellow ceiling with your hand, and you can see the difference.) In the girl's bedroom, above right, the gray ceiling becomes a quiet finishing touch. It ties the room together by pulling the background color of the wallpaper onto the ceiling, creating less contrast and a less jarring look than there would be with a white ceiling.

If you're concerned that a painted ceiling may be a passing fad, don't be. They've been around for years, and have continued to become more popular. As forward-thinking designer Elaine Griffin declared in "30 Tips & Tricks for Choosing, Using, and Loving Color" back in the February 2010 issue of Better Homes & Gardens, "The era of the bright white ceiling is over!"

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