For our next project, John and I did something ridiculous and utterly magical to our living room ceiling:
I wasn't prepared for the reaction I got once I posted this on Instagram, though; turns out you guys like twinkle lights almost as much as I do! You also demanded a tutorial, so I'll do my best here with the few photos I took along the way.
First things first: you need a ceiling you can staple into (so hard plasters are out) and LOTS of lights. We used this set from Amazon: for $38 you get 1,000 lights on over 300 feet of a lovely clear/white wire:
It doesn't actually arrive in a giant tangled ball, don't worry.
Other than the lights, all you need is a ladder, a staple gun and at least 800 staples. (We also spray-painted the tops of our staples white before using them, but that's optional.)
To begin, move any large pieces of furniture out of the way, so you have room to move your ladder.
Next you may want to unspool all 300 feet of lights onto the room's floor, just to make sure you have enough to cover the space:
This wasn't very helpful for us, though, because we ended up running out faster than we expected anyway.
In fact, our magical swoopy flourish was a happy accident: we originally thought we would randomly place lights over the entire ceiling. When we realized we didn't have enough for how tightly we were installing them, though, we changed the design to what you see here.
Now let's talk install.
If you're planning a shape like we did, and if your ceiling allows it, outline the shape first with blue painter's tape:
This will give you a guideline to work inside.
If your ceiling is too rough for tape, you can try stapling string up there instead - or just have a person on the ground with a laser pointer to guide you.
Important: even though it would be easier, you do NOT want a grid work of lights; any kind of pattern spoils the magical effect. So to keep it random, try to arrange your wires in a giant Cornelli Lace pattern:
(My two blog worlds are colliding....)
Here's how that looks on the ceiling:
I should probably mention this looks a lot less magical during the day. Ha! (Fortunately we're usually only back here after dark.)
Keep the lights ON while you're installing, ideally in a darkened room:
It also helps to have a second person on the ground at all times keeping an eye on the pattern. (And give them a laser pointer; it'll save everyone's sanity.) Step back and check your work often to make sure you're not making the pattern denser; it's very easy to pack more lights in as you go (HEED MY VOICE OF EXPERIENCE), so err on the side of looser loops.
As I'm sure is obvious by now, this requires some fairly extensive hole-poking into your ceiling, so be prepared for spackle & paint repairs later when/if you take it all down. We had to rework our beginning section a bit, so here you can see some of the chipped paint from the staples we moved around:
The amount of damage will depend on your ceiling. We have soft foam tiles that already have a perforated texture, so they're somewhat forgiving - but I'd guess a popcorn ceiling would hide a lot of sins, too.
A few more install shots:
All told this took us two nights' work, mostly because of our hasty re-planning session and having to redo the beginning 6 feet or so. Oh, and this room is about 16X20, so I hope that helps you visualize how far the 1,000 lights will get you.
And that's it! I hope this inspires a lot more Christmas lights on ceilings out there. This is one of those things we all dream about as kids, but usually forget about once we're adults. But hey, if you own your own home, then that is YOUR place. So go ahead, screw up the ceiling paint a little. Paint that crazy color. Do stuff that makes being an adult worth it from time to time. Life's too dang short to always worry about resale value anyway, am I right? :D