How to Make a Ceiling Medallion


Plaster and wooden medallions once only decorated ceilings in palaces, government buildings and the homes and businesses of the wealthy. Although faux, prefabricated medallions made of lightweight plastic have made it possible for anyone to cheaply re-create these grand ceiling interiors, they often lack complex designs or enrichments and embellishments. With preparation, concentration and a few items from a local DIY store, you can easily make an elaborate ceiling medallion for your home.

Things You'll Need

  • Magazines/books
  • Drawing/sketching materials
  • Wallpaper
  • Ornamental molding
  • Graphic design program (optional)
  • Stepladder
  • Measuring tape
  • String
  • Nails
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Paint
  • Drill
  • Screws
  • Screwdriver
  • Adhesive
  • Glitter (optional)

Designing a Medallion

  • Look at pre-existing medallions in architecture books/magazines or online to help you understand the typical designs (styles, colors and enrichment/embellishments) used by professionals. Cut out or print, if possible, any styles, colors and enrichment/embellishments that you like and believe will work best on your ceiling; or write them down.

  • Go to a wallpaper or DIY store and look at various pre-colored or paintable textured wallpaper. You will use wallpaper to form the background circle of your medallion. Collect samples of styles that match your ideas. In addition, at the DIY store look at various wooden ornamental molding pieces--small or large rosettes, shells, swags, flowers, geometrics, stars or balls--like those found at Lowes (see Resources) as these items will embellish any part of the medallion (interior, edge and outside areas) and create depth. Purchase one of every piece that you like or go to the DIY store's website and print out an image of each.

  • Plan and draw your medallion design based on the samples and your ideas. If you're not artistically inclined, approach the design process in one of four ways: 1) Use a graphic design program to help you. 2) Ask a friend with artistic ability to assist. 3) Print out multiple copies of the ornamental pieces, cut them out and layer/arrange them overtop the wallpaper samples until you have a design that you like, and then take a photograph of the design to reference. 4) Imagine the arrangement of the pieces based on the samples, draw a basic circle, mark the circle with colored dots showing the locations of the embellishments (for example, yellow dots for the location of stars, black for balls, pink for small rosettes or red for large rosettes).

  • Buy your wallpaper, ornamental pieces and other supplies.

Wallpaper Background

  • Remove your light fixture. If you cannot remove it, turn off the lights and remove the bulbs.

  • Place a piece of string at the point where your light fixture attaches to the ceiling and draw the other end of the string slowly taut out to the approximate width of half of your chosen medallion size. Cut away excess string. If your medallion isn't above a light fixture, select the center of your ceiling and measure from there.

  • Tie the cut string to the head of a 3-inch nail and the other end to a pencil to make a DIY compass. Use the compass to draw a circle on the back of your wallpaper by placing the nail at the center, pulling the thread taut and using the pencil to sketch the circle.

  • Cut out the circle and glue it to your ceiling with a non-drip adhesive. If applying above a light fixture, cut the circle in half and carefully glue/line-up each portion to your ceiling around the fixture.

Enrichments and Embellishments

  • Paint your ornamental pieces; let them dry.

  • Apply strong, long-lasting adhesive to the back of large pieces, affix to the circle and repeat; or drill small holes through each large piece into your ceiling and screw each into place. Once you're satisfied with the placement, move on to the next step.

  • Attach the smaller pieces to or around the larger pieces and/or the outside of the medallion. Follow the application instructions from Step 2.

Tips & Warnings

  • If your medallion's placement isn't above a light fixture, buy a large rosette for the center. If you want a glittered medallion, apply the glitter to the wallpaper before affixing to the ceiling. If you screw your large pieces to the ceiling, use smaller pieces to cover the screw heads.
  • Always use a step ladder that allows you to safely work with your arms at a 90 degree angle rather than straight up from the shoulder, as you can strain or damage muscles, tendons, joints, nerves or arteries by using your arms above your head for extensive periods of time. Never drill into your ceiling without first consulting with an electrician or electrical wiring diagrams of your house.

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