Category: Hobbies

Thrifty DIY: Puffy ceiling success story

One of the most popular posts on my blog here is one about my project to make a puffy ceiling for cheap. At the time, I was living in a space that had a “drop ceiling,” where there are tiles hanging on a grid. I wanted to make my space more inviting and warm. I ended up moving about six months later and didn’t have the completed thing for long, although I definitely enjoyed the space for the time I was there.

Last month, a reader saw my post and wanted to do the same project for her salon space. She reported back:

It only took a few hours, and the look has completely changed the feel of my room. It’s more cozy, tranquil, and inviting. My clients and co-workers are impressed and amazed!

Nikki’s facial and massage room! Click on the image for the Bliss by Nikki Facebook page.

If anyone wants to go and check it out, Bliss by Nikki is located in Fairview Park, Ohio.

Thanks for sharing, Nikki! I’m so glad it worked for you!


Thrifty DIY: Chic puffy drop ceiling for $27

DIY projects are my new addiction. It’s not that I’ve gotten into it recently out of the blue; it’s been a long-standing love that I just haven’t had the space or time to complete. So when I come up with an easy (and cheap) solution to something I want to fix up, I’ve jumped at the chance.

My bedroom was needing a solution — badly. It has an ugly, grid suspended ceiling with random stains and cracks. There was a hole above my bed where I laid my head! It just needed to go.

I’ve always been a fan of the “puffy” ceiling look; it just looks comfy and serene. So I copied that exact look for $27 and it doesn’t look tacky. You can probably do it for even cheaper if you don’t make the same mistakes I did.

After two hours, the finished product left me pleased. You can see the strings of lights hanging above the cloth.

You can vary these materials to alter your taste. For instance, my bedroom space is around 10×10 feet. I bought two yards of 108″ white cotton muslin, the cheapest there was at Hancock Fabrics. (They also apparently have a coupon for 15%, so says the older woman who was helping me with all this fabric business.)

The two yards cost me $12. It wasn’t enough to cover the entire ceiling, so I ended up supplementing with six yards of 38″ white cotton muslin from Wal-Mart (only because Hancock had closed by this point) for $11. The great thing about this kind of ceiling is you can cover up your mistakes by layering. I covered the edge of the ceiling that was showing by layering fabric underneath it and swooping that up. You can’t even really tell the fabric ends at a certain point.

My total was $27. Depending on the size you want to cover, what type of ceiling you have, and what type of lights you want to have, your cost can vary.

Phase one completed at this point. The lights are strung a bit uniformly, but not too much to look perfectly symmetrical.


Depending on the space, you’ll want to adjust how many lights you get. If you want a soft bright and don’t want to expose the lights, go for the 400 mini lights. If you want it to have a “starry” look, get less. This is actually the best time to buy string lights with the holidays right around the corner!

If you have decorative string lights (like lanterns or paper globes), you’ll want to expose those!

The size of your space will obviously determine how much fabric you get. For my 10×10 space, I bought two yards of 108″ and then six yards of 38″. Getting more yards of the 108″ is beneficial. I used the 38″ to drape in one corner (perfect for hiding the extension cord!).

Also, beware! Don’t pick a dark color if you’re hanging lights above the fabric. The light won’t go through quite as nicely as a light color.

The “Alexandra method” of stringing it over and tucking cloth. Gotta work with what you got!

The Lights

You can go about this in a couple of ways:

  • Lucky for me, those commercial drop tiles are perfect for this kind of project. I literally just pushed the tiles up and strung the lights over the bridges connecting the tiles (picture above). The fabric was then tucked in corners of tiles where there was enough pressure to balance them. You can do this in a better way by purchasing ceiling hooks specifically for grid ceilings and hanging up your lights that way.
  • If you have a solid ceiling, you may want to consider adding ceiling hooks to your materials list for the string lights. Thankfully, they aren’t expensive and they aren’t too difficult to handle. Strength isn’t that big of an issue since the lights aren’t heavy at all. String the lights up with the hooks.

The Fabric

After your lights are up, start by hanging up the four corners at once. Don’t have it tightened against your lights. My fabric was draped so low starting out that if I sat on my bed, it was incredibly close to my head. When you tuck or staple, it will begin to shorten the drape and create that puffy look. I chose where to cinch by picking “darker” spots where there wasn’t a strand of lights.

If you’re sticking to white fabric, keep things white. White cords for the string lights, white extension cord to attach to your socket. Let the lights do all the talking.

The extension cord can be held down with some painter’s tape and hid behind draped fabric in a corner. Or you could be even better and do two draped corners on the left and right sides of the bed to add some symmetry into your design.

Your patience will pay off! These lights are soft enough to be cozy, but bright enough for me to read at night.

Last Tips:

  • Remember to drape! It doesn’t have to be in a uniform pattern. Don’t allow the fabric to be cinched too close together; it will look like a wedding dress stapled to your ceiling. Let it fall. If you’re going to be leaving these lights on for a while, because they aren’t LED, they will warm. Keep the fabric from touching the lights. You can also just spring for the LED lights, which are a bit more expensive. They last longer, too.
  • Experiment whether you want your string lights to hang below or above the fabric. I opted for above because the cloth would buffer the light and soften it, leaving a cozy, soft light throughout the space. If you have decorative string lights, you’ll want to go below. This would actually make your job a bit easier: attach or screw in the ceiling hooks first, put up your fabric by pushing a hole through with the hook, and then drape your lights!
  • If you do it correctly and buy fabric all at one time, you can probably get this done cheaper than I did. Be sure to measure the space you want to cover. I didn’t do that, and I ended up suffering a bit for it.
  • This isn’t a long-term solution. Dust may become an issue in the future depending on your household. A quick fix might be to push up on the puffs to move the dust out and use a duster (like a Swiffer) to maneuver inside the puffs. Another way to maybe combat the dust would be to take down the fabric when you notice dust collecting (if you haven’t stapled it up) and clean the fabric. I’ll post an update once I have a dust problem.

I hope this helps anyone looking for this type of ceiling. Doing it for cheap is just a bonus. Enjoy!

Alexandra is not responsible for any damage made in the process or as a result of this project.

10 Things You Can Do Today

  1. Hold a door open for somebody else.
  2. Pay for someone else’s coffee or other drink.
  3. Dance in public (in line, in your car, wherever!).
  4. Laugh at yourself. Don’t take yourself so seriously.
  5. Create a blog or post in one. (It’s a surprisingly good outlet, even if you’re posting seemly nonsensical content.)
  6. Listen to a radio station you wouldn’t normally listen to.
  7. Learn how to do something new.
  8. Make somebody laugh.
  9. Get organized for tomorrow.
  10. Call, e-mail, or text someone you haven’t talked to in a while.

Spare Time: Event Planning

One of the things I love to do in my spare time is plan events. I’ve always been drawn to it and it’s a nice way to make some extra money on the side. On top of basic planning, I also design flyers, menus, and invitations, while getting the word out about the party. Sometimes, I bartend to cut down the costs of the host’s expense. By creating drinks and putting them on a menu, the host saves money by purchasing a certain amount of liquor, rather than an excessive amount to accommodate everyone’s favorite drinks. It also helps me only make a few types of drinks throughout the night, and saves me the embarrassment of saying “I don’t know that one” if someone orders a complicated cocktail.

Making flyers and menus are also nice because I get to play around with typography. I love fonts, and my menus definitely show it. (I have also turned into a Helvetica fan.)

Below, I’ve listed my top favorite menus and flyers that I’ve created for various parties and events. Most recent on the left, to the oldest on the right.

Event planning can be stressful for some people, but I, personally, love the stress that comes with it. The idea of people coming together after working so hard is rewarding. Especially when you attend the party yourself and see how people are enjoying it!

Have you ever planned a party or event? How did it go? Tell me about it!