Decorate boring ceiling tiles with party supplies and homemade decor.

Creative Inexpensive Ways to Decorate Ugly Ceiling Tiles

by Kathy Adams

No matter how fun and funky the decor in a room, boring or ugly ceiling tiles, such as the plain white tiles of a dropped ceiling, add a bit of drabness to the atmosphere. You may not be able to swap those ceiling tiles out for another type of ceiling, but you can work with what you have by dressing it up a bit with colorful items such as those found in import and toy stores.


Whether the ceiling is a dropped ceiling with removable tiles, or a type that has smaller tiles that can't be lifted up, giving them a splash of color livens up the room. Torn pieces of colored tissue paper applied over the tiles with decoupage medium gives the ceiling the look of a collage, which may be ideal for a teenage girl's room or child's playroom. Create an underwater atmosphere using blue tissue papers; add a random tissue paper fish or two underneath the blue for a playful touch. For a more sophisticated room, use patterned scrapbook paper, or cut decorative elements from paper napkins and apply those to the plain tiles to create a border around the room. Torn pages from newspaper or old books create a wordy ceiling suited to the budding writer.

Paper: Lanterns and Origami

Paper lanterns of all sizes can be strung from the framework of a dropped ceiling. To do so, add a short strand of fishing line to the hanger on top of each lamp, then tie or tape the fishing line to the frame after pushing a tile corner up for better access. For other acoustic style ceiling tiles that are not set into a metal frame, secure the lanterns' lines with thumbtacks. Origami swans or fish of various colors can be strung up in the same fashion.

Parasols and Kites

Inexpensive parasols or kites from an import store or toy shop serve as festive, playful decor for the ceiling. Hanging the parasols requires cutting off their handles and tying line to the inner framework, securing that to the frame of a dropped ceiling or a ceiling hook. The parasols are upside down, and can be used to cover fluorescent ceiling lights in a dropped ceiling, while still allowing light to shine through. Kites hang from the ceiling in a similar fashion, with small bits of clear fishing line securing them to dropped ceiling frames, ceiling hooks or to individual tiles using tacks or tape.

Painter's Tape

Painter's tape serves as design medium for just about any straight-lined pattern you can think of: stripes, concentric squares, interlocking rectangles, or a shattered glass look with various triangular shapes. The tape itself can be the design if it's left on the ceiling, or paint over it with another color, such as dark blue, revealing the original shade beneath. Sections taped off can be painted an assortment of colors for effects such as rainbow shades or ombre fades.

About the Author

Kathy Adams is an award-winning journalist and freelance writer who traveled the world handling numerous duties for music artists. She writes travel and budgeting tips and destination guides for USA Today, Travelocity and ForRent, among others. She enjoys exploring foreign locales and hiking off the beaten path stateside, snapping pics of wildlife and nature instead of selfies.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images