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DIY Faux Midnight Ceiling

How to paint a faux midnight ceiling | The Chelsea Project Blog | www.thechelseaproject.com

My son’s room used to be painted like the inside of a treehouse.  

Dark chocolate walls.  

Window valances made of cedar shingles.  

Burlap upholstery.  Denham drapes.  

……….You get the picture………

 It was rustic ….and indestructible.  

A little boy’s (and a mom’s) dream.  

So, last fall, when we started developing the very long overdue renovation plans,

the only thing he insisted on keeping was the midnight ceiling…

……with the stars….

…..that twinkle….. 


at night.


The problem is that the ceiling was painted so very long ago


…at the time…

it just didn’t occur to me to take step-by-step photos.

But, since this is the first post of the total room reveal….

I wanted to share the story ……

….the ceiling


…..the recreated process.

Step 1:  Create a border at the top of the walls and on the ceiling.

I determined the border size and marked a line on the walls.  Then I attached blue tape across the bottom portion of the line so that the new paint would cover the mark.  I painted this area and about 12 inches of the adjacent ceiling with flat black latex paint.  At the end of this step, I had a plain white ceiling with a border around both the ceiling and the walls.

IMG_1921Step 2:  Dilute flat black latex paint and rag the paint onto the ceiling.  

In photos of midnight skies, depth was not usually gray, it was different saturations of black.  So I copied this look by using the same black latex paint in different dilutions.  In at least three different plastic containers, mix latex paint with varying amounts of water.  Getting the dilution you want is really trial and error.  There is no right or wrong because all of the dilutions will be used simulataneously to create layer upon layer.  Suggest to try:

3 parts (cups) paint : 1 part (cup) water

2 parts paint : 2 parts water

1 part paint : 3 parts water

If you find some other combinations that work better, then, by all means, use the ones you create.

Then, just wad up a rag and dab away.  Trust me, it’s a boatload of ragging, but it’s just the first layer.  The key is to make sure to use the full strength paint and all of the dilutions together.

Also, it is important to keep this layering translucent and include the white part of the ceiling as part of the total look.  Nothing is happening here except the creation of depth and that happens with effective layering.

I kept a photo handy of a midnight sky to help guide me along and keep me focused.

Let this layer dry.  Then…..

Step 3:    Use full strength and diluted navy blue water-based glaze in addition to the black latex paint to rag the next layer.

Dilute the glaze using the parts ratio….. just like the black paint was diluted.

Then add another layer using the different dilutions of glaze.  The black paint dilutions should also be ragged in, but use less.  This layer is all about the blue.


The glaze will add shine so be careful to not totally coat every inch of the ceiling or some of the layering effect will be lost.

Then go over the dried blue layer with black…and blue…and black….and blue.

Get my drift?

Just keep working with the glaze and paint dilutions until the desired layering is achieved.  I layered for several days.  Eck.  I know, but what can I say?  It’s a big ceiling…especially when you are on a ladder…….ragging…..over your head.

Step 4:  Add stars that stick onto the ceiling.  

In reality, the stars do not look so stark as in the pictures, but I would not photo shop to get a better image.  The depth of the ceiling as created by layers was, I believe, more important for you to see.

And, don’t forget to have fun with the stars.  We created the Big and Little Dippers, embedded his initials in a constellation, and attached a larger guiding star over the head of his bed.  We used about 1,000 little stars and a handful of larger stars.


Please, also note that this room faces east, so the reds that appear in one of the photos are from the sun and its reflection off of objects in the room.  But, it it so totally awesome to see the sun rise in his room.  



After all these years.


I hope you enjoyed my very first DIY using paint blog post.

Please email me with any questions you may have.

I look forward to helping you create the look.

And, I hope you will follow along for more of the boy’s room reveal.

Blessings to you all the day thru,



  • Reply Jim January 16, 2015 at 7:59 pm

    Glad you saved the ceiling.

    • Reply Phoebe January 16, 2015 at 11:00 pm

      Love what you did!

  • Reply Madison January 16, 2015 at 11:33 pm

    This would be a great ceiling for a baby nursery! Just need to paint the cow jumping over the moon.

  • Reply Dave January 16, 2015 at 11:34 pm

    You would probably have to have several windows in the room to keep it from being too dark during the day but the shine does reflect a lot of light!

  • Reply Morgan January 16, 2015 at 11:36 pm

    The boarder really makes the ceiling pop!

  • Reply Seth January 16, 2015 at 11:56 pm

    Did you do this by yourself? Very impressive.

  • Reply Ann Marie @ Iris Abbey March 4, 2016 at 6:05 am

    What an amazing ceiling for a child’s room. I can’t begin to imagine the time it took you with all the ragging and the placing of stars. Terrific job. I saw your link at Diana’s Adirondack Girl @ Heart/Vintage Charm’s party.

    • Reply theChelseaProject March 4, 2016 at 3:56 pm

      Thanks so much, Ann Marie. It was time consuming, but since we’ve been able to enjoy it for so many years, it was worth it.

  • Reply Kathleen Charm Bracelet Diva {At Home} March 7, 2016 at 1:40 am

    My son would love this! He’s an avid star gazer and loves the planets! We have them all hanging from his ceiling…what a great job by a great mom! Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm! xo Kathleen

    • Reply theChelseaProject March 7, 2016 at 10:27 am

      Thanks, Kathleen. Appreciate your kind words.

    Thanks so much for your comment!

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