Skylights and clerestory windows provide extra light without compromising privacy.

How to Decorate Sloped Ceilings in Rooms

by Michelle Radcliff

Sloped ceilings create unusual architectural features you can use as creative opportunities when decorating. Emphasizing angular lines creates interest and dimension. Enhance the slope with color and texture, and emphasize depth with varying layers of light. Heighten walls by painting them the same color as the ceiling, but add other decorative details to keep the look interesting.

Organic Texture and Visual Rythm

Sloped ceilings look beautiful in wood paneling, whether it’s painted white beadboard, deeply stained walnut or the fiery hues of redwood. Add contrast to a white ceiling with thick, dark wood beams. A layer of cedar planks provides a rich, woody aroma. The varying hues and grain of natural wood planks and ascending horizontal lines create a stimulating rhythm for the eyes, naturally drawing the eye upward. Wood on a vaulted ceiling helps bring the visual elevation down for more of an intimate feel in the space.

Layer With Light

Layer the lighting on a sloped ceiling. Go as high as you can with recessed down lighting, placing fixtures and angling the housing to direct light where you need it. Install hanging pendant bases at an angle for aesthetic appeal. Circulate rising warm air with ceiling fans and add interesting forms with chandeliers. Install track lights for additional task lighting if needed for areas such as student desks.

Open it Up

Create an aviary-type atmosphere with skylights. Flood the room with natural daylight, giving the room a light, airy feeling. Kids and houseplants will love this room. Sloped ceilings provide a unique look for clerestory windows, installed high on the wall near the roof, as the shape of the window narrows with the angle of the slant. Clerestory windows typically don’t require window treatments, as they are designed to let in light without compromising privacy. Shades or blinds installed on skylights add additional aesthetic value and provide more control over light and heat entering the room.

Soften the Space

A large tapestry or fabric installed on a slanted roof softens the room with a tentlike or canopy effect -- perfect for forts or princess castles. A large piece of fabric hung over a bed and continuing down the back of the wall behind the bed acts like an ornate headboard. Use a ceiling-mount curtain rod or attach the fabric directly to the surface of the ceiling. Install an additional curtain rod where the ceiling meets the wall and drape the fabric behind the headboard. Enhance the angle of the ceiling with patterned wallpaper, which also adds color and texture. Play up additional texture with pleated or ruffled fabric covering the entire ceiling.

Creative Color

Use color to accentuate the A-frame angled lines created by the ceilings that slant against the end wall of the room. Paint the end wall a dark, solid color that contrasts against a light ceiling, or use the reverse if the ceiling is covered in dark wood panels. Chunky vertical stripes ascending upward on a slanted ceiling that ends with a ceiling tray creates a tentlike effect. Install vertical wood trim and paint the trim in a contrasting color to the ceiling. Get creative with a stenciled design that continues from ceiling to wall in one area of the room. This effect looks best when the walls and ceiling are painted the same color. Use crown molding around the top of each wall to conceal rope lights for cove lighting, adding an ethereal glow to the ceiling’s edge.

About the Author

Michelle Radcliff owned a retail home furnishings business for eight years. Radcliff offers decorating advice on her blog, Home Decorating News, is a regular contributor on interior design at and earned certification as an interior decorator from Penn Foster College in 2013.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/ Images