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The 5th Wall: Using Wallpaper on the Ceiling


Using wall décor isn’t just about what type of wallpaper you use, but it can also be about where you put it. Often referred to as the “5th wall,” a room’s ceiling can be an excellent opportunity for interior designers to express their originality and create a visually striking space.


Source: Martha Stewart

Why wallpaper the ceiling?

Whenever we enter a room, it’s not often that we ever look up and this is because there usually isn’t anything worth looking at on the ceiling. Using wallpaper on the ceiling is a technique that helps solidify the space, making it just another part of the overall interior design. Here are some benefits of using wallpaper on the ceiling:

Creating a Unique Aesthetic

Interior designers can mix and match two different wallpapers together (one pattern on the ceiling and the other pattern on the walls) to create a truly unique aesthetic. Using the ceiling as a fifth “canvas” can create a more unified look, such as pairing a large print on the ceiling with complimentary colored wallpaper on the rest of the walls.

Alternatively, designers can opt for a bold look that uses the same wallpaper. For example, take a look at the two contemporary stylized leaf wallpapers below. Using the white wallpaper on the walls and the black wallpaper on the ceiling can help extend the theme throughout the space.

You can also use a main wallpaper pattern on the ceiling and paint the other four walls with a complimentary color to create a stylish minimalist look.

Cluttered Walls

For rooms where most of the wall space is hidden behind cabinets, shelves, or other large furniture items, putting wallpaper on the ceiling adds a visually appealing pattern to the room while simultaneously making use of a large, empty space. Kitchens are a prime example since most of the lower wall space is hidden behind large appliances, like the counter, an oven, refrigerator, and dishwasher. Most of the upper wall space will be behind cabinets and shelving units.

Experimenting with Different Patterns or Colors

If you want to maintain a minimalist look throughout the space but want to add a burst of color somewhere, consider using vibrant colored wallpaper on the ceiling. It adds a colorful touch to the space without making it look tacky or too overwhelming.

Cost Effective

If wallpapering the entire room is out of your budget but you still want a high-end, professional look, using wallpaper on a single wall is often the way to go. Feature or “accent” walls use this method of using one prominent wallpaper pattern on a single wall. Of course, who said the feature wall had to be one of the traditional walls? Using wallpaper on only the ceiling creates a subtle yet dramatic look that is sure to make the room feel one of a kind.

Fragile Wallpaper Materials

Some wallpaper materials are more fragile than others. Natural (or grasscloth), textile, and glass bead wallpaper work well in low traffic areas but are still more susceptible to surface damage than a more durable material, like vinyl. However, using these types of materials on the ceiling means you can still enjoy the look of these unique materials while knowing it won’t be dented or scratched.

What are some popular ways to use wallpaper on the ceiling?

Now that we’ve gone through some of the benefits of using wallpaper on the ceiling, what sort of rooms work well with ceiling wallpaper and what sort of visuals can be achieved?

Kid’s room

Using specific wallpaper on the ceiling can create a playful atmosphere in a kid’s bedroom or playroom. One reason why you might want to wallpaper just the ceiling in a kid’s room is to create a sense of balance between relaxation and a more vibrant energy.


For a look that’s out of this world, wallpaper featuring stars or the galaxy can transform the space, making it feel more magical. Bold patterns and colors work well as ceiling wallpaper, and our Small Talk wallpaper below is another one that would be perfect for a kid’s room.


Playing with perspective

Using wallpaper on the ceiling is in itself an interesting design choice, but interior designers can get even more creative by playing with perspective. Take a look at the two examples below:


With both images featuring an aerial or top down view of the landscape, using them on the ceiling results in an interesting visual effect. The sense of scale helps make the room look and feel larger.

A shimmering sparkle

For a truly glamorous design, using beaded wallpaper on the ceiling adds a hint of a shimmering sparkle while maintaining a professional, balanced look.


This type of wallpaper features small beads that have been attached to the wallpaper backing, subtly reflecting light to create a shiny effect. Using glass bead wallpaper on the ceiling means it’ll play off ceiling lights, adding another visual element to the space.

Coffered ceilings

In one of our previous articles, Getting Creative With Wallpaper: How To Use Your Murals As Art, we talked about how framing can really make a wallpaper mural stand out. Coffered ceilings can work in a similar way. With each “section” on the ceiling, designers can opt to use the same wallpaper pattern throughout or even mix and match different wallpaper colors and patterns.

Source: Veranda

For a classical look, murals featuring traditional paintings and other artworks can give the space a sense of grandeur and beauty. Geometrics and other contemporary wallpaper patterns add a modern twist to the space, playing off the geometry of the coffered ceiling.