Design + Decor, Design Trends

The Fabulous Fifth Wall

Design by Marcia Moore | Photo by Michael Jacob


The fifth wall, otherwise known as the ceiling, is often overlooked but essential in a room’s design and décor. This is a perfect spot to really go all out and take your room over the top with personality and pizzazz.

In the photo above, we designed a coffered ceiling to mimic the floor’s wood inlay in this century home in University City, Missouri. A wash of soft yellow paint finishes the look.

And there are so many options when you’ve decided to get rid of that white expanse overhead: paint, faux paint, lacquer, applied molding, coffers, wood beams, tile, brick, medallions, creative chandeliers…the choices are endless.

So why settle for a mundane ceiling when yours can be magical? Today I’ve gathered an awesome collection of ceiling eye candy that just might inspire you to make at least one of your fifth walls pretty cool.


“Painted ceilings can add so much drama, especially in a smaller space. They’re also very unexpected.” – Nate Berkus

Whether you go bold and bright, soft and light or black (not white), a painted ceiling invites your eye to explore beyond the four walls of a room and look upward. And painted ceilings are nothing new. In Victorian homes, colorful ceilings often varied from room to room playing off the saturated hues in oriental carpets and ornate wood furniture.

Deep shades, such as plum, add warmth and drama to a room, while cooler shades, such as Tiffany blue, are soft and fresh. And when you add a lacquered finish? The glam factor definitely goes up a notch.


“The joy of wallpaper is that you can put the most amazing pattern on your ceilings very easily, creating an unbelievable new way to decorate a room.” – Martyn Lawrence Bullard

Just as painted ceilings are rooted in the past, so are highly decorated ceilings; think ornate plaster treatments or colorful frescos. Today, wallpapers, faux painting, stencils and murals can make the space over your head worthy of a look up.

Faux painted to resemble a Tuscan sunset, the spectacular ceiling in the first photo is an unexpected and dramatic addition to this dining room. And can you even imagine staring up at this gorgeous stenciled ceiling while relaxing in that beautiful tub? No, me either.

Design by Marcia Moore | Photo by Michael Jacob


Or what about painting your ceiling to look like a circus tent?

Or a starry sky?

More stencils, but this time in a more intricate pattern than stripes and with a coffered ceiling. Love it! And what about that amazing mural in the second photo? Again, above a gorgeous tub. I mean who needs a shower?!

Wallpaper is a wonderful way to add texture and interest to the fifth wall. Go bright and bold with a colorful grass cloth or really commit with a fabulous floral!

Cristina Murphy Interiors



“Every room needs a touch of black.” – Jan Showers

Black and white is a classic combo. In the first photo, Dorothy Draper definitely knew how to rock a black ceiling, and the pop of red is the perfect finishing touch. In the second photo, decorative white molding pops off the matte black ceiling in this dining room and is an awesome anchor for the contemporary chandelier.

Design by Dorothy Draper


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More black and white done right.

Black makes beautiful or unusual chandeliers the star of the show.

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Ceilings and walls painted the same color can highlight or minimize ornate molding in an old house. And when the color is black, the effect is especially dramatic. In the first photo, a faux leather treatment adds texture, too.

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Glossy black is hard to beat.


“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” – Maya Angelou

Architectural design elements give your ceiling a healthy dose of charm, character and beauty. From the smallest detail to the most intricate design, architectural elements can have a huge creative impact and become the most significant finishing touches of all. Architectural details take what’s overhead, over the top.

Wood ceilings are always beautiful, whether rustic or refined, traditional or contemporary, in a natural stain or painted white. Here are a few of my favorites:

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A barrel ceiling is stunning on its own, but add brick for a a touch of rustic elegance or glistening tile for a glam vibe, and the wow factor goes up a ton!

It’s all in the details. Why not try a paneled coffered ceiling or exquisite resin tiles?

Not your average ceiling medallions, this iron starburst and tole metal scrolling beauty are handcrafted in antiqued and burnished gold finishes.

Pair a contemporary light fixture with classic molding for an unexpected finishing touch.

Use simple molding or make it more intricate.

There are so many choices when it comes to making your ceiling a standout. I hope I’ve inspired you to make the overhead view one to remember. After all, life is too short for boring walls or ceilings. At Marcia Moore Design, we love putting the extra special finishing touches, such as a fabulous ceiling treatment, on all our projects. If we can help you design your dream home or remodel the one you have, give us a call at 314.395.1114 or CLICK HERE to contact us.

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