This article has been written by Andrei Vasilief – a professional architect and interior designer – to ensure maximum factual accuracy and to provide unique content.
Redecorating a ceiling in a small bedroom can be intimidating.
Because if you get it wrong, then the room can feel even smaller and cave-like.
But get it right, and you can make your small bedroom feel larger, more unique, and better suited to your personal style.
So how do you decorate the ceiling of a small bedroom properly?
The best way to decorate the ceiling of a small bedroom is to stick to simple designs and colors that make the room feel brighter and more inviting – painting the ceiling white is the safest option, whilst opting for a light color offers scope for more creativity.
However, depending on your taste for creativity and complexity, there are many other ways to decorate the ceiling of your small bedroom.
So in the rest of this article, I have used my professional experience as an architect that has worked on many small bedroom projects to give you 10 of the best small bedroom ceiling design ideas.
The easiest designs to implement are at the start of the list and increase in difficulty as you progress – feel free to copy or adapt them as you see fit for your own personal project.
10 Small Bedroom Ceiling Design Ideas
Ceilings are very rarely thought of as potential design elements, especially in residential buildings – where they are often just left plain white.
This has become so ingrained in our consciousness that seeing an apartment ceiling today in any other color feels strange.
Before becoming plain white slabs, ceilings used to be far more heavily designed – they were considered to be an integral part of the interior.
That line of thinking has disappeared, but it is slowly starting to come back.
Decorating a ceiling is complicated: both technically and stylistically.
From a technical point of view, it is uncomfortable to do; requiring the person responsible to look upwards for extended periods – as well as being generally more difficult than decorating walls.
Stylistically, it is difficult to get right and quite intimidating – so for this reason most people will not attempt to try something like this.
But there are some basic and easy-to-implement ideas that anyone can try and are not complicated, which have the benefit of elevating the interior design of any small bedroom.
Check out the 10 ceiling designs for small bedrooms that I’ve created for you below:
1: Paint the Ceiling White – Simple and Versatile
Painting the ceiling of your small bedroom white is an effective option because it can reflect the light around the room to make it appear larger and feel less like a cave.
White is a great color for residential spaces – especially bedrooms – because it can be paired with many different themes, making it highly versatile.
A wooden floor combined with white walls will work in just about any situation.
The downside to this is that it can feel impersonal because it is so common.
However, it remains the standard choice because it’s so easy to implement.
How to Copy this Look:
This option is easy to implement by simply painting the ceiling white.
You can then paint or paper the walls white to reflect light around the room to make it feel bigger.
If you wish to cover the walls in a darker paint or wallpaper, limit it to a single wall – leaving the rest painted white.
This will create a bold focal point that makes the room feel interesting without appearing overwhelming.
2: Paint the Ceiling a Light Color – Creative and Spacious
The simplest departure from the standard white ceiling is to paint it a light color.
The biggest advantage of using a light color for the ceiling is that it allows you to create a design that stands out while retaining the same advantages of painting the ceiling white.
It makes the room feel more spacious, while also allowing for a more tailored design.
It’s a good choice for those who want something more creative, without going for something overly complicated or expensive.
It also lends itself well to rentals because of this.
How to Copy this Look:
The simplest approach is to use light colors and hues – such as light gray, light blue, or light yellow.
Avoid strong colors, such as reds.
You’ll also want to stay away from colors that feel or look dated, such as orange or brown.
These come in and go out of style, and will eventually feel out of place.
Find a color that you like and paint it onto the ceiling.
Leave the walls white, to create a contrast with the ceiling.
This will make the ceiling stand out.
3: Paint the Ceiling a Dark Color – Bold and Memorable
Darker ceiling colors only work in small bedrooms if the ceiling is quite high.
Because painting the ceiling a dark color will make the ceiling feel lower than it is – so keep in mind the height of the room when choosing this option.
The main benefit of dark ceiling colors is that they stand out – allowing for a more creative and bold design that will leave a strong impression on anyone that visits your room.
Another thing to consider is how the light fixture will fit in with the ceiling color.
Using a darker color allows for a more bold and creative design that stands out, rather than fading in – as is the case with light colors.
This allows you to create a more memorable design.
How to Copy this Look:
Make sure that the room is not overly small before choosing this option, as this design idea does not work well in very small spaces.
Stick with lighter hues of dark colors.
So light gray can work well – all the way up to an anthracite color.
Avoid blacks, as this can make the room feel smaller.
Leaving the walls white, or painting them light gray, can work very well with a dark ceiling.
4: Paint the Ceiling and Walls the Same Color – Flexible
Painting both the ceiling and the walls in an identical color can create a truly unique interior.
It’s a great solution that is also not too difficult to put into practice and can make any bedroom stand out while also being flexible.
Painting the whole room in one color is a stylistic choice that is starting to become more popular.
It is quite a bold approach to interior design, but it’s easy to do, as long as the color choice works.
Hotels and resorts will often do this as it allows them to create a design that stands out, without too many complications.
How to Copy this Look:
Stay away from dark colors, such as grays or black.
Go with lighter, more friendly nuances, such as blues or greens, or even off-whites.
Off-white is the safest choice that works in any situation, with blues and greens being more context-appropriate.
5: Frame the Ceiling With Panel Molding – Classy and Elegant
The inclusion of various decorative elements around the ceiling is a design that comes from classical architecture.
This has since been reinvented for contemporary residential spaces and can be used to bring a personal touch to the space.
This is achieved by using panel molding placed around the perimeter of the ceiling.
Panel molding is made from a durable material that can be painted over.
Designing with panel molding can be as ornate or as minimalist as necessary – it is a very scalable design choice.
Molding profiles vary from very ornate to simple geometric shapes.
Traditionally, this was a solution specifically for large rooms, but this new variety of panel molding has also led to it being usable in smaller spaces.
Applying profiles can be somewhat laborious, as it’s necessary to make sure everything aligns perfectly so that it doesn’t look strange at the end.
It’s also important to note that this solution is not feasible in a room that isn’t rectangular, as it makes the space feel weird.
How to Copy this Design:
Start by selecting a panel molding profile that works for your room.
The guiding principle here is that the larger the room, the more ornate the molding can be.
In my experience, it is best to avoid overly decorated profiles in any situation, as they can end up looking quite dated.
Apply the profile along the perimeter of the ceiling.
You will require a professional to accomplish this, as cutting and lining up the pieces can be quite difficult.
Finally, paint the profiles and the ceiling in the same color.
Avoid painting them individually, as this can create color discrepancies between the two.
6: Apply Wallpaper to the Ceiling – Textured and Unique
Putting wallpaper on the ceiling of your small bedroom can add texture and make the room feel unique.
It is a creative and interesting option but it is also much more difficult to put into practice.
This can be considered the intermediate step between painting the ceiling and the more complex ideas we will discuss later.
Having a wallpapered ceiling can revamp the feeling of a bedroom or any space.
Wallpapering a ceiling reminds us of classical buildings such as the Sistine Chapel – making it one of the most interesting design solutions to decorate a space.
It is very tricky to wallpaper a ceiling, so professionals will be required to do it.
How to Copy this Look:
Find a wallpaper pattern that is not too heavy – geometric patterns work very well in this case.
In my experience, it is advisable to avoid photographic or any kind of heavily textured wallpaper.
Color-wise, blues, whites, off-whites, grays, and greens can work very well.
Avoid stark colors, such as reds, yellows, browns, and oranges.
Apply the wallpaper to the whole ceiling.
Avoid any type of partial application, as it can end up looking very strange.
Leaving the walls white works best, as it makes the wallpaper stand out.
A good pro tip that can make the design stand out more is to apply the same wallpaper as the ceiling on a single, open wall in the room.
This should be a solid wall, without doors or windows.
7: Integrate Lighting Into the Ceiling – Classy and Comforting
Now we move on to the more complex solutions that require construction, or generally more complicated interventions.
Lighting is extremely important in residential spaces – especially bedrooms, where the type of light has an impact on how we sleep.
The majority of light fixtures project light downward into the room: this is direct light.
In nature, light is reflected from various sources.
Sunlight does not function like a lightbulb, throwing light directly onto the earth.
It is reflected, creating a softer feel: this is indirect light.
Most interior light fixtures function as direct light sources, shining light directly down into the room.
This is further exacerbated by the use of a single light source in a room.
Integrating light into the ceiling helps create a more comfortable environment.
How to Copy this Look:
This approach requires a bit of design work before getting started.
The simplest method is to embed lighting around the perimeter of the ceiling, complementing a central light fixture.
Alternatively, the light fixtures can be smaller, and distributed around the room.
The one thing to keep in mind is that the embedded lights should not project directly into the room, but onto the walls and then reflect into the room.
This creates indirect light, which is much more comfortable.
Integrating lights will require renovation, and it is not really feasible to do in a finished ceiling.
The extent of the renovation depends heavily on the type of lighting solution, but doing this as a simple installation is not feasible.
That is something to keep in mind before choosing this path.
8: Change the Ceiling Material to Wood – Cozy and Opulent
Changing the ceiling of your small bedroom to wood panels can make the room feel more cozy and comfortable.
As with the previous point, this is a bit more difficult to implement, requiring construction knowledge to perfect.
Wood is a material that we naturally associate with the idea of “home”.
Just as panel molding has been co-opted as a minimalist and more accessible option, wooden ceilings have been turned into a much more applicable solution.
One more thing to keep in mind regarding this solution is that it is not the most affordable choice.
To achieve the best results, this requires the use of real wood, not substitutes, so this can make it expensive.
A substitute will look wrong, at least in my experience.
How to Copy the Look:
As with the previous solution, this will require professional implementation.
The first part is choosing the appropriate wood texture and color.
In my experience, the smaller the room, the lighter the color and texture of the chosen wood should be.
So something like ash or oak can work quite well in a small space.
Avoid highly textured or dark options, such as chestnut.
The second step is choosing the pattern of application.
Wood comes in a variety of patterns such as herringbone or squares.
The best approach for applying wood on a ceiling is to go with a simple plank pattern, avoiding anything too complicated.
Something like a rectangular pattern is far more difficult to pull off.
So stick with a simple plank pattern.
If the room is large enough, you can also choose to go for square patterns, as they can further elevate the feeling of spaciousness.
9: Add Multiple Light Fixtures – Soft and Natural
A single light fixture, while easy to implement, is not the best choice in a bedroom, as it is quite an unnatural way for our bodies to experience light – as we have discussed previously.
Installing multiple light fixtures is a good middle point between integrating light directly into the ceiling, and having a single light source.
Dispersing light around the ceiling has multiple advantages, compared to having a single light source.
It makes the light feel more natural and all-encompassing, which has a direct effect on both our wellbeing and the quality of our sleep.
Ideally, the light fixtures will direct light towards the ceiling, from where it will bounce back into the room.
As an alternative to this, you can install light sources that project light in a tight cone towards the floor, from where it will bounce back into the room.
Indirect light feels much more natural, especially for a bedroom, as it mirrors the way natural light feels.
Sunlight functions as indirect light, which contrasts with the way the majority of light fixtures work.
The reason we do not see indirect light being integrated into residential spaces boils down to cost; it is much more cost-effective to just attach a single fixture to the ceiling, rather than making a dedicated design requiring special construction.
The major difference between this design idea and integrated lighting is in the lack of construction and renovation work.
Installing a few additional fixtures does not require a complete overhaul or redesign of the ceiling, and is much easier to get right.
The only area where it might require some work is in the electrical system.
How to Copy this Look:
While it is not complicated from a construction perspective, it is difficult to implement from a design perspective.
The first step is to calculate the amount of light necessary for the room.
Light is measured in lumens, and the first step is figuring out the number of lumens required for the room.
Fortunately, there are premade calculators readily available online that you can use (try this one).
Once you have a number, you can divide it between the number of light sources you would like to have in the room.
Lumens are controlled by the lightbulbs used, so depending on the number and type of bulbs, you can spread the light around the ceiling in as even a manner as possible.
As a general overview, around three ceiling light fixtures will be the optimum number for a small bedroom.
More will start to clutter the space, and would generally only be recommended for large rooms.
If you have a small space and wish to go over three light fixtures, you will have to take care when calculating the required amount of lumens, and how they are distributed around the room.
Regarding style, all light fixtures should either be identical or from the same general set.
Mixing different styles of light fixtures is possible, but more difficult, so my recommendation would be to stick to a single set.
10: Turn the Ceiling into Artwork – Creative and Unique
Painting the ceiling is a great option if you want something more creative that strays away from the traditional geometric approach.
In a way, this is the ultimate creative touch that can set your bedroom apart from any other.
From a complexity perspective, it is not too difficult to implement; the only thing to keep in mind is that it can be a potentially laborious process.
It can be DIY friendly, depending on how you feel about it and if you think you have the skills to pull it off.
Ceiling-wide artwork is not very easy to implement, but for someone with experience, it is doable.
One more thing to keep in mind is that this type of approach will not work in many rooms.
It needs to fit the atmosphere of the home and the space, as it represents the identity of the occupant.
So, your personality will have a substantial impact on the artwork.
How to Copy the Look:
Start by thinking about what type of artwork would fit best with both the space and the overall interior design you wish to create.
Use the dominant colors that are already present in the room or ones that create a good contrast.
The artwork should not be overly dominant and should integrate well with the interior design.
Balancing the art with the rest of the room is very important, as it all needs to blend very well.
Avoid scenery and other complex design elements.
Patterns, shapes, and minimalist designs work best.
It’s very important to make sure that the artwork is visible from every angle, rather than requiring a fixed position to be seen.
Finally, keep in mind that the light fixtures will also have to fit in with the new ceiling.
Both the design of the fixtures and the color tones will need to fit in with the artwork.
Conclusion: Make Your Ceiling Interesting!
Ceilings don’t have to be the boring designs that we have become used to.
Before the middle of the 20th Century when architecture started focusing on functionality first, decorative ceilings were used more often, lending an air of prestige and decor to spaces.
The ceiling was not considered a simple utilitarian element of interior design but was treated with the same amount of attention to detail as the walls or the floor.
As the design is ever-shifting – mirroring the times we live in – we are slowly starting to move past the plain, functional-driven design into a more colorful and decorative future.
So there is no reason to keep thinking of ceilings as we have done previously.
As you have seen, a lot of these solutions fall outside of the DIY territory and are not the easiest to tackle.
But changing the design of your ceiling can update any space, and give it a unique feeling.
Image Attribution and Licensing
Main image: ‘Bedroom With Beamed Wooden Ceiling’ by IPGGutenbergUKLtd (Getty Images) – used with permission under the terms of Canva’s One Design Use License Agreement.
Image #1: ‘Minimalist style bedroom at home’ by casamediacasamedia (commercially licensed through Envato Elements).
Image #2: ‘White and green elegant master bedroom’ by archideaphoto (commercially licensed through Envato Elements).
Image #3: ‘Bedroom with black ceiling and wardrobe’ by in4mal (Getty Images) – used with permission under the terms of Canva’s One Design Use License Agreement.
Image #5: ‘3d rendering luxury modern bedroom suite in hotel’ by dit26978 (commercially licensed through Envato Elements).
Image #7: ‘3d rendering luxury modern bedroom suite in hotel’ by dit26978 (commercially licensed through Envato Elements).
Image #8: ‘Bedroom With a Wood Ceiling’ by Mint_Images (commercially licensed through Envato Elements).
Image #9: ‘3d rendering beautiful luxury bedroom suite in hotel with tv’ by dit26978 (commercially licensed through Envato Elements).
Dan is the founder and head content creator at Bedroom Style Reviews.
He has been working as a professional online product reviewer since 2015 and was inspired to start this website when he ended up sleeping on a memory foam mattress that was too soft and gave him backache.
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