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Julia Demer

Wallpapered Ceilings Are the Biggest Design Trend Right Now — These Rooms I Saw at New York Design Week Prove It

NYC design week 2024 trend.

For the maximalist or the unconventional, ceiling wallpaper is the next frontier. First, it offers extra surface area to play with — why should walls be the limit? Second, it’s unexpected, almost undetectable upon entering a room. I'd say it's right under your nose, but I suppose "over your head" is more fitting.

Apart from a light fixture or some molding, decorating ceilings feels like a long lost art. Michelangelo painted the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel in the early 1500s, and even then, the concept was already ancient. However unsubtle the notion of a large-scale print or mural on your ceiling might sound, rest assured this interior design trend took on many forms.

(Image credit: Nickolas Sargent // Barbara Ostrom Associate)

One fearless execution came from Barbara Ostrom of Barbara Ostrom Associates. She's the type of creative who cheekily pairs an accent chair made of plush stuffed animals with real hides on pillows and stools. For her safari-themed Design Week exhibit, guess how she approached the ceiling decorating? No grand light fixture. Instead, flying cranes formed a circle against an abstract sky backdrop.

Another notable, but perhaps more easily integrated, display was by Workshop/APD. They used large-scale florals in tones of cognac brown and cream, glittering with hints of gold. The room felt remarkably bright, impressive given the total absence of windows. Like a wall mural, ceiling wallpaper increases the perception of height and, if done right, makes the room feel larger rather than closed in. For anyone living in NYC, or anywhere else with a severe window shortage, this might just be the next best thing.

(Image credit: Julia Demer // Workshop APD)

And I would be remiss not to mention the sky-like design used by Swati Goorha Designs. It featured a pattern of painterly cloud formations, which, paired with gently glittering wallpaper and tiny LED lights, reminded me a bit of The Starry Night (1889) and Van Gogh’s brushwork more generally. This effect was ethereal.

(Image credit: Julia Demer // Swati Goorha Designs)

So, how to implement ceiling wallpaper? I attended a preview of The Purnon Papers by Farrow & Ball, whose collection of wallpapers inspired by a restored 18th-century French château seem like a promising start. Intended for walls, I'm sure, but any number of the dainty florals or ornate damasks could definitely work on a ceiling (I’ve seen decorators use the brand’s wallpaper for this purpose on Pinterest before). As you hopefully gathered from my findings, anything goes when it comes to ceilings — they’re just another canvas.

(Image credit: Julia Demer // Farrow & Ball)

I redecorated the bedroom of my childhood home as a teenager, funnily enough with an accent wallpaper similar to Barbara’s, featuring a pattern of flying cranes. I extended it to the ceiling, cutting out the birds to extend their flight above me. It seems I may have been onto something — looks like my sign to do it again.

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