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Wallpaper on the Ceiling

Making the Fifth Wall Pop

March 20, 2020

Wallpaper on the Ceiling

Making the Fifth Wall Pop

March 20, 2020

The wallpaper-on-the-ceiling trend is in full swing, and it's easy to see why. Too often a room is only thought of as four walls. The ceiling—what many designers refer to as "The Fifth Wall"—is left blank, creating a lost opportunity. Adding wallpaper to a ceiling puts this vacant area to use, adding a splash of pattern and personality to a room in a completely new way.

But while wallpapering a ceiling is an enticing flourish, it also raises interesting questions about lighting. How do you choose the right chandelier or pendant to complement this newly adorned surface? And how do you strike the right balance to ensure your space will drop jaws as it lifts eyes?

Bari J. Ackerman of Bari J. Designs

No single element of a room is conceived of in a vacuum. How a wallpapered ceiling is going to interact with the room around it is one thing. How it complements or works against your ambient lighting choice is another matter.  

There are three ways the suspended ceiling light fixture and wallpaper on the ceiling wall balance can play out.  

First, the wallpapered ceiling and the light fixture are working together in harmony, evenly contributing a strong design element without one overpowering the other.

Second, the light fixture is so dramatic that any wallpaper selection must use a calming palette and light pattern.

Third, the wallpaper on the ceiling is so intense that a minimalist fixture using a spare frame or transparent material like acrylic or glass is the best complement.    

The room above falls into the first category. Covering a recessed portion of the ceiling, the wallpaper has rich, juicy colors. It also has a regular pattern, easing up some availability for a fixture with some pizzazz. Mixed metals on a minimal frame hit the mark.  


Mysha Bolen

This girl's bedroom operates on a similar premise. Keeping a limited color palette, the lantern in white is the right balance of personality and transparency, with colors that help tie the room together. 

Ana Claudia Design, Rikki Snyder Photography, Kingston Design Connection

This room from the Kingston Design Showhouse 2019 which got coverage in AD performs a beautiful balancing act. The ceiling is the statement of the room. Roughly reflected in a pair of unique rugs beneath it, much of the room is minimal, allowing details, materials, and the architecture to say more with less.

The chandelier is a natural fit, calling upon the time-honored wagon wheel form. Accented by a medallion, the architectural, sophisticated simplicity helps center the room and light the table, while whooshing the eye up to the antigravity wonderland of that jawdropping ceiling.     

Tina Bousou

This flora-loving kitchen goes big with its large-scale botanical jungle print and dark greens along the ceiling. Yet, a kitchen island's pendants are one of the key stylish lighting spots in the home. An acrylic pendant with diamond-shaped cutaway (echoed slyly by a half-transparent diamond pendant over the sink) answers the call perfectly. Clear materials like lucite and glass impart great style and alluring form around candelabras, while allowing other elements of the room to be the star of the show. 

The Homme Boys

In a bedroom or space with low ceilings and an intense pattern, it might make sense to invest more in the task and accent layers of lighting, choosing pieces that contribute to the design. Upping the other layers may provide the light needed for that space, while adding sculptural qualities. This bedroom has a unique vision and a very soothing, earthy color palette. Beautiful lighting plays an assist here, inviting its tenants to relax.