DIY Starry Ceiling Tutorial

Since I have so many DIY projects going on for baby #2′s nursery, I thought I’d chronicle them in a little series.  First up, possibly my most ambitious DIY project ever.  Sometimes you imagine these things and they turn out terribly/you are cursing the day you ever had the idea.  Other times it comes together better than you ever could have imagined and you want to shout it from the rooftops.  I am happy to report that this project is definitely the latter!
This is a seriously long post but I hope you’ll stick with me…the results are worth it, I promise!
Yup, that’s baby boy’s nursery ceiling!  I’ve mentioned a few times how in love I am with Osborne & Little’s Coronata Star wallpaper pattern.  I LOVE the idea of using this pattern on a nursery ceiling.  It’s just the perfect amount of whimsical and magical and what could be better to gaze up at as a baby?  But the idea of using the actual wallpaper on the ceiling gave me pause.
Issue #1:  Price – typically $150/roll with a 3 roll minimum PLUS installation (installing wallpaper on a ceiling is not my idea of a DIY project…better to pay a pro!)
Issue #2:  I am a commitment-phobe.  I love to admire a beautifully wallpapered kid’s space as much as the next design enthusiast but kid’s grow up (fast) and while the Coronata Star pattern isn’t exactly baby-ish, I know myself too well and I know I’ll want to change things up down the road.  Not so easy with wallpaper!
So I set out to find a way to recreate the look in a whole lot less expensive and permanent way.  Enter my two favorite mediums – paint and contact paper.  Seriously…contact paper!  My love affair with this cheap and totally flexible material has been going strong since last Halloween’s silhouette decorations and the cityscape I created for Knox’s super hero party.
Things you’ll need for this project:
Contact paper
Paint (if you’re painting your ceiling)
(I suppose you could cut these stars by hand but then you’ll have arthritis)
This Silhouette Cameo file for the star shape
A Chalk snap line box & chalk
A tape measure
A wet rag (for cleaning off your chalk grid at the end)
A partner in crime!
I started off thinking I wanted to match the actual wallpaper color as closely as possible.  But when I got my sample, I realized that it was actually much more of a mint green then I’d ever realized by looking at it online.  I always assumed it was an aqua blue but all the aqua paint colors I tried on it looked far too blue.  If you are looking to recreate the wallpaper exactly though, I found that Dutch Boy’s Under Glass is a spot on match to the paper color.
While the original is stunning, I didn’t want mint green for the ceiling so I decided to branch out and find a color that worked for me. I tested 4 paints on the ceiling.  This is an important step.  It’s amazing how different the same color can look on the ceiling vs. the wall!  I quickly ruled out Tidewater as way too dark and muddy and Antiguan Sky as too green.  I agonized for a long time over Adriatic Mist or Open Sky but ultimately decided to go with a truer blue vs. aqua (though Adriatic Mist is gorgeous and I’d love to use it somewhere!).  Open Air was the winner!
While I was open to  customizing the color of my ceiling, I really liked the scale of the stars on the original wallpaper.  To translate the wallpaper scale to my ceiling, I measured my sample and found that the center of each star to the next star in the line was 9″.  I also measured the center of each star to the next star down from it and found that measure to be 7″.
Using the measurements from your sample, I made light pencil marks along the ceiling on 2 parallel sides of my room at 7″ intervals and at 4.5″ intervals on the other 2 walls.  You are laying the groundwork for a grid system you’ll be creating in the next step.  The intersection of the lines in your grid represent where a star will be placed.
You’ll need a chalk snap line box and some chalk.  I used this chalk line snap box and this white chalk.  I went with white chalk because I figured it would be easier to clean off my light blue ceiling.  You’ll also need an extra set of hands for this next step.  My awesome brother came over and helped me for an afternoon and it went incredibly fast with the two of us.  We marked off the whole ceiling and snapped all the lines in about 2 hours.
Stand across from each other and hold your chalk line on the marks you made in the previous step.  Make sure your partner is standing at the corresponding mark across from you. Hold taut and snap away.  Keep working your way around the room until you have a grid system established.

Viola!  A grid!

Note, you will make a huge mess with this chalk so either put down some tarps or move everything out of your room.  Either way, plan for some clean up.

I tested a few different kinds of contact paper – this gold, this Silhouette specific vinyl and ultimately landed on this silver contact paper.  I stuck all of them up on my ceiling and left them for a few weeks.  The cheap contact papers peeled right off with no residue or ceiling damage.  The Silhouette vinyl is much stronger and thicker and actually peeled some of the paint off when I removed it.

I strongly recommend you test on your own ceilings to see what works/doesn’t cause damage.  This is what worked on our plaster ceilings but I can’t say for sure it will work on all ceilings. 

The contact paper I went with is definitely more reflective and stainless steel looking than the pretty metallic of the stars on the original wallpaper but I was willing to deal with it for the savings.  I lucked out and got all the contact paper I needed on eBay for $26!  Definitely check there and also check Walmart and the Dollar Store.

You can download the file I used for my stars here.  This is a file specific to the Silhouette Cameo so don’t try to open it in MS Word or something.  I designed the file so that you can get 9 stars out a 12″ x 12″ piece of contact paper.
7 point star file for Silhouette Cameo available here
I highly recommend you get 12″ wide rolls of whatever contact paper you select so you don’t have any waste and don’t have to keep cutting to reload!
Here is the Cameo doing it’s thing.  It really is such an amazing and versatile machine.  I cut 170 stars in just under 2 hours! I’ve already got another project in the works with it!
With your meticulous grid system in place, this last step is really just a matter of peeling and sticking your stars.  It comes together so fast, it’s awesome.
The intersection of your grid lines represents where the center of your star should go.  I found the easiest way to do this consistently was to line up the center points of the star on the lines.

Keep in mind as you work that not every single intersection gets a star.  The stars are laid out in a brick pattern so only every other intersection gets a star.  This is best illustrated in the image below I think.  The red dots represent where a star goes.  Notice that there are grid intersections that don’t get a star.  Just skip every other intersection and you’ll be fine.

You’re almost there!  This last step is annoying and tedious but the whole ceiling comes to life once you start wiping off those annoying chalk lines!  A damp wash cloth and a light, circular motion is all you need.
I am so ecstatic with how this project came out.  A great big thank you to my brother who helped it all come together.  Without him I would have ended up with a few dozen stars haphazardly placed on a ceiling with no rhyme or reason!  Instead it turned out to be something I’m really proud of. Here are a few more shots of the final result.
Now isn’t this much prettier than a plain ole ceiling?!
And for those of you who are regular readers of my blog, you’ll notice I made a decision on a ceiling light for this room (I debated the options here).  I ended up deciding that simpler was indeed better and got this one from Overstock – a total steal at just $133!
A few final stats:
Total cost for this project -  just under $50.
-$26 for the contact paper
-$23 for the ceiling paint
(A Silhouette Cameo will set you back about $200 or so but thankfully I already had one.  Even if you had to buy one you’d still come out ahead of the $700-$900 it would cost to buy the wallpaper and hire someone to install it!)
Total time it took to completeabout 10 hours (including painting the ceiling which took the longest).
Yes you could finish it in a day but I think it took me more like 2 weeks.  As the mother of a 2 year old, 10 continuous hours to work on a project is just not a luxury I have. But I got it done (thank goodness for nap times!)
I hope I’ve inspired some of you to create a super special ceiling in your own homes.  You can use this same technique to create whatever you want really.  Like wouldn’t this be darling in a little girl’s room?  If you do try it, please send pictures!  And if there’s anything that isn’t clear or that I’ve missed, please feel free to comment and I’ll try to clarify.
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  1. awesome! awesome! awesome!!

  2. I had a feeling that is what you were up to with the sneak peek. The results are stunning! I’ve been wanting one of those cameo machines and doing this project might be what finally gets me over the hump to purchase it. Thanks for sharing the “how-to”.

  3. Wow! I can’t think of anything else to say, but wow! Except maybe amazing! It looks so great. I have never seen the shiny contact paper. I’m officially on the hunt now.

  4. This. Is. AWESOME! I absolutely adore your ceiling!! Someday maybe I’ll be ambitious enough to do something similar. Excellant project.

  5. Looks great! I have a Cameo on my wish list!

  6. It came out amazing! I have been waiting for you to tackle this ever since you first posted that wallpaper! Question – Do you think a stencil would work for the stars instead of the contact paper? I’ve thought about doing a stenciled ceiling in my new baby’s nursery but I’m hesitant about the project!

  7. It came out amazing! I have been waiting for you to tackle this ever since you first posted that wall paper! Question – do you think a stencil would work instead of the contact paper? I have been thinking of doing a stenciled ceiling in my new baby’s nursery but I’m hesitant about the project!

  8. Amazing! Well done!

  9. Stunning, Dina! It looks so beautiful!

  10. Hi Katie! I bet it would work but oy! My neck and shoulders hurt just thinking about holding that stencil steady while you paint. I liked the sticker method because it was very forgiving. If I messed up I just peeled off the star and tried again!

  11. Oh my gosh, I am in awe of you! Not just because you are INSANELY talented, but you did all of this while pregnant AND running around after a 2-year old? This is phenomenal, Dina.

  12. OMG, I’m in love. You did an absolutely fantastic job. I like how the stars look to be in various shades at different angles. If only I had a child’s room that I could try this out on :)

  13. Oh wow! That is just stunning. I especially love how some of the stars look gold when the light is on.

    You did an amazing job…. and your brother too, of course!

  14. It is so FABULOUS!!! I totally love it and am so impressed with all you are getting done. It’s slow moving around here with a 3 year old running around, a busy hubby, and a pregnant mommy. Luckily I have until February. You are motivating me, though, so I appreciate it! I have a Cameo and only a very limited idea of how to use it, so any tutorials you can do incorporating its usage would thrill me. Thanks for constantly sharing such great stuff with us on your blog!

  15. It’s official. You have the patience of a saint!! This is one amazing ceiling! I too would have skipped on the wallpaper, but probably would have painted the starts or cut them out but would have been cursing myself for the neck and shoulder pain or cutting out what I would have thought to be 60ish or so starts turning out to be many many more! Thanks for the tutorial…I feel like I should do this now?! Guess I’ll have to buy a silhouette machine first?! ;) Beautiful work!

  16. Its beyond gorgeous, Dina!!! Love the way the metallic changes with the light and adds such depth. The contact paper was such a great idea!! I was wondering if you were really going to use that wallpaper…but I’ve always thought that anything you wanted in wallpaper could be achieved in paint. You did it:) It’s all about the math, huh? Glad your brother came in and saved you on that one!! 60 stars?! Ha!! The chalk lines were a great idea too. This ceiling is going to take this room to an entirely new level, can’t wait to see the rest. I’ve been wanting to do something cool with Maura’s big girl room ceiling in my head for awhile now (haven’t started the room at all) and I was thinking of a kind of constellation chart, like painting it a dark blue and drawing out some of the constellations and labeling them with a cool font. Of course, our ceilings have texture to them, like not popcorn, but this kind of swirly pattern in the plaster/joint compound. Ugh. You are totally inspiring me and motivating me now, but I have history of not getting projects done, so we’ll see. Pinning now:) You are amazing!!!

  17. OMG and in a word: AWESOME
    Loved the post…bookmarking this one! Great idea and now I need a cameo machine.

  18. All I have to say is Wow!!! I am definitely using your idea somewhere in my home!!! Just love how clean and beautiful the ceiling looks.

  19. All I have to say is Wow!!! I am definitely using your idea somewhere in my home!!! Just love how clean and beautiful the ceiling looks.

  20. I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So much better then my glow-in-the-dark-stars and solar system circa 1996. I totally want to do this in the future!! I’m horrible at math. Thank God for your brother who is great at math. I will pin this for later!!! :o )

  21. I am beyond in love with this idea. You’re so great!


  22. holy crap this is about the hottest ceiling I’ve seen ever- I LOVE this!

  23. I really, really want to do this once we drywall our little guy’s bed room. The ceiling is sloped on either side and I think it would look awesome!

  24. Love the idea – would also look great in a dreamy guest room. When I looked at the pics first, I thought you had stenciled the stars!

  25. A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.!!! I was happy with my glow in the dark stars on our guest room (left over from when the kids were little) until I saw this. I wish I could hire you to come over and do this for me!!! (I don’t know if I have the patience), GREAT JOB!

  26. i love this! I’ve been wanting to do something like this for a while in my daughters room. you have inspired me to make it happen. :)

  27. GORGEOUS. Absolutely. I love how the metallic you picked for the stars picks up the gold from the lamp shade… really lovely dimension. :)

    Can’t wait to see the rest!

  28. It’s amazing! What an awesome job you did! It looks terrific!

  29. Awesome site.Thanks for sharing.

    Affordable design

  30. This is awesome. I wanted to put that paper on the ceiling of my daughter’s room but it would have cost nearly what we spent on her entire nursery! But now … PS I’m really glad I’m married to an engineer … this is the sort of thing he lives for! Ha.

  31. That is unbelievable gorgeous!


  32. Hi Dina. I fell in love with this back when you posted this entry in October. I’m in the process of doing this project and I’ve run across a problem. I measured and marked 4.5″ and 3.5″ and made my chalk lines, but comparing my grid and your grid- they look like completely different sizes. When I look at your “Voila- a grid” pic, the chalk grid surrounding the light fixture definitely doesn’t look like 4.5 x 3.5 boxes. I attached a picture. What on earth am I doing wrong? If it’s a stupid mistake I’m going to blame mom-with-a-infant-and-toddler-brain. Here is my pic:

    • Hi, Her grid is 3.5″ x 4.5″ but she did a brick pattern (every other row) which skips a row in each direction meaning you place a star every 7″ in the width direction and 9″ in the length direction. I hope this helps!

      • To be perfectly honest, I did this so long ago now that I really don’t have an answer for you. So since you just went thru it, I will trust that your method makes more sense. I’m sorry if I made more work for you :( I’d love to see your finished room if you’re up for sharing!

  33. Hi Dina…. I love your Ideas!!! really!
    I have a proposition for you…. how much would you charge to do the Silhouettes on the contact paper? I would send the contact paper for you….
    I dont have much time to do myself… and That would help me a lot!
    please think about and let me know :-)


  34. Came from project nursery – gorgeous labor of love! Your instructions are so well written as well, good job!

  35. I’m sorry, how should I describe it?

  36. Love, love, love this ceiling! What were the dimensions of the ceiling? Trying to figure out if this is a project I can tackle in our home :)

  37. I love this and am working on a version of it right now! Did you change the blade or anything for your Silhouette/how did you set your silhouette up to cut the contact paper? Did you use the cutting mat underneath and reload it after it would finish each 12×12 section, or can you just feed the contact paper right into the machine? I have one but am still a newbie and have only used it to cut regular paper so far. Thanks! ;)

    • I set it to the normal
      silhouette brand vinyl cutting settings and I did use the cutting mat underneath. I reloaded after every 12×13 but I WISH I could have figured out how to run it continuously. Never did though. I didn’t have to change my blade at all.

  38. Beautiful! We definitely would like to do this in our new house. It feels magical :) Our walls are off white with a little bit of a yellow undertone. Do you think it would go with the blue ceiling? Also, the room doesn’t get much light. Should we go for a shade lighter? I saw from the SW fan chart that timid blue was the lighter version of open air. Thanks for your help!


  1. [...] Contact paper stars cut with a Silhouette machine via Honey and Fitz [...]

  2. SMP Living says:

    [...] by: Dina of Honey & Fitz | Photography by: Ruth Eileen Photography | Ceiling: DIY tutorial | Drum Pendant from: Overstock | Crib Hudson from: Babyletto | Changing table/Dresser: vintage [...]

  3. [...] to her room and she asked for stars on her ceiling.  I did some web surfing and fell in love with this tutorial from Honey and Fitz.  The instructions are so clear that I really thought I could do it. [...]

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