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DIY Reclaimed Wood Ceiling (so cheap, so pretty)

I don’t think I’ve been THIS excited about showing y’all a project in a long time. The reclaimed wood ceiling in our kitchen and dining room is finished and it is just SO GOOD.

reclaimed wood ceiling

It’s cozy and warm and I just love it. The house feels so much less like an unfinished white box and more like the home I have always pictured in my head. Also, the whole thing only cost $322. That’s a deal in my book.

rustic wood ceiling DIY
fence picket ceiling

A wood ceiling in the kitchen and dining room was on the “must have” list from the second Adam and I started sketching out floorplans for this house. We’ve been casually looking for 500 sq ft or reclaimed barn wood for a very long time, but have come up emptyhanded. Reclaimed wood is super popular now (especially in our area…thanks a lot Fixer Upper)  thus it is in high demand and very expensive. So a few weeks ago, Adam and I were sitting around talking about what our next project was going to be, and we decided to forget old barn wood and just do the ceiling with new stuff. So the next day we loaded up the kids and the trailer, drove into San Antonio in the pouring rain, and picked up some cast-off cedar fence pickets from a place called Pecos Fence Company. This is the same place we got the boards to do the feature wall in my brother and sister-in-law’s house…anyone remember that post?

reclaimed wood accent wall

These are just cheap fence pickets and not exactly top quality wood, so there are knots and the boards aren’t perfectly square (just like actual reclaimed wood). Adam and I decided that in order to make the gaps and knots not stand out the ceiling underneath had to be black, and we could either paint it or staple up black paper. Since painting ceilings literally one of the least fun things to do ever, black paper it was. We used roofing paper and bought 500 feet for $14. Here is a closeup of the biggest knot in the ceiling to show you what the paper looks like underneath.

what to put underneath a reclaimed wood wall or ceiling

The paper is pretty thick and you *should* attach it all to the ceiling with a stapler before adding wood on top. We personally own two staplers….neither of which we could find when we needed them. We might have loaned them to someone or left them somewhere or lost them forever in the messy garage…either way there were no staplers to be found. So instead of going and buying another one, Adam had the great idea to use thumbtacks instead. I’m not sure if I’m using the word “great’ sarcastically or not, because while it did work, it also really, really didn’t. So just buy the stapler. Don’t be cheap. Don’t be like us.

how to DIY a reclaimed wood accent wall or ceiling

Anyway, I’m not quite sure what else to say about the project…we cut boards, used the nail gun to attach them to the ceiling, and got a ton of sawdust in our eyes. There are a lot of canned lights, pendant lights, and vents in this area, and Adam spent quite a few days on all the detail work. He’s a good man, despite his cheap thumbtack using ways.

reclaimed wood kitchen ceiling
barn wood ceiling DIY

Oh, also! I finally bought a light for over the dining room table. It wasn’t what I originally planned on getting at all, but when I saw it and all its green glass goodness I quickly changed my tune. The original price was $500, but I stalked it for a few months and bought it on sale for the amazing price of $189. The only thing is that they make them for 8,10, and 12 ft ceiling…ours in 9 ft. I bought the one for an 8 ft ceiling (because the 10 ft one was an extra $100), and so it’s slightly shorter than would be ideal. It sure is pretty at night though.

reclaimed wood ceiling cost

I also replaced the pendant over the sink with a matching pendant. I loved the previous light, but with so many pendants in an open floorplan I felt that at least some of the light fixtures should match.

wood ceiling tutorial

We also added wood to the ceilings in the office and entryway. Here is a shot of the office (I got in some very odd positions to take photos for this post) and the below photo is my favorite of the whole post.

farmhouse ceiling

Everything I love is in this shot, the green and blue, shiplap, rustic wood, floral, iron and corrugated tin…

reclaimed farmhouse ceilings
rustic wood ceiling DIY

The ceiling isn’t actually 100% finished (nothing ever is), it still needs trim all the way around…but that’s a project for another day. I’ll leave you with a couple before and after shots… it really is crazy how different it feels, especially when you are right underneath it.

wood ceiling before and after
reclaimed wood ceiling before and after


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  1. Wow!!! This is an amazing transformation! Great idea with the roofing paper instead of painting because that seriously is the worst

  2. Everything looks amazing! We are coming for Christmas and hope to come see y’all! It’s been too long! You have had 2 kids since we saw y’all last!!

    1. What, that can’t be true?! I really haven’t seen you in that long? Man, the older I get the faster time flies. Well let me know the dates y’all will be down and we will plan a reunion dinner. Plus I want to hear all about your new business, it looks like a ton of fun and like it’s doing really well!

  3. That looks amazing! You are right about it being a huge difference from before.
    I was thinking, with your (beautiful!) new chandelier being on the high side, you could do some creative decorating for Christmas, like hanging some ornaments on ribbons to just below the level of the lights. Might as well take advantage of the extra height!

  4. Oh my! LOVE LOVE????????????!!! Love the light fixture too. Just amazing!!!!! Yay for you guys!! ????????????????

  5. Everything looks amazing! I’m really happy for you, Adam as always did a great job! I also noticed that you removed the pillows from your Island bench, and that made think that I need to get a life! (that is how much I like your blog though!)

    1. That’s too funny, when I was editing photos for this post I wondered if anyone would notice my naked barstools! Yeah, the fabric made it about a month before it looked absolutely disgusting and I ripped it off. Turns out that scotchgaurd is useless against my boys. One day we will put pretty wood on them, but for now we use them as sawhorses and workbenches ALL THE TIME. They are perfect for doing projects.

  6. The difference is ASTONISHING! Love it!

    Random questions: I noticed that you have counter height benches at your island. 1) Do you like them? 2) Where did you get them from? I have seen every bar stool on the internet, and don’t want any of them, so I’m thinking a bench might be the way to go. Please help a desperate girl who has spent THAT much time looking for bar stools.

  7. So gorgeous!! It makes a tremendous difference in those final before and after comparisons, like wow. You are right, it totally goes from white and concrete box to warm welcoming home. I’ve only seen wood ceilings on Lauren Liess’s old dining room but I remember her saying she put it there to push the coziness of the already small room… in your larger space with high-ish ceilings it becomes so warm and inviting. I have been thinking about doing a wood plank detail on our hood vent cover in our new white kitchen to warm it up and this definitely makes me want to.

    1. Thanks Julie! Now that you mention it I do remember that Lauren Leiss had a wood ceiling in her dining room a few houses back. If Lauren does it then you know its legit, everything she touches is gold (did you see that she is getting her own show on HGTV?). I don’t think you can go wrong with white and wood, so I am a wooden vent cover supporter :)

  8. The ceilings look great! Before there was no distinction from wall and ceiling. The wood warms up the whole look of the house.

  9. Ashley,

    This is simply beautiful!! Love the homeyness factor! Were the boards pre-stained or just bare wood? And did you do any sanding prior to install?

    Thanks for sharing your great idea!
    Christine O.

  10. It looks so…..RIGHT! I am impressed and a tad full of the green eyed monster, but hey! you’ve given me a kick up the old keister and made me realise I need to get on with it!
    It really looks so warm and inviting now. Gives the room more of a sense of enclosed rather than all open. Like a big old hug from your favourite grandma! Totally gorgeous. (the room not the grandma, she has had her day. )
    Cheers to you from Australia!

  11. I’ve followed you since you purchased your property. I’m amazed at how hard you both work while raising 4 boys. You are both so talented. This new/old wood ceiling has brought so much warmth and coziness to your home. I’m so curious though, Adam must have had to redo every light fixture, vent, and most curiously the open shelving in the kitchen. Not sure how he possibly lowered the ceiling without having to redo the shelving pipe lengths if that makes sense? One of your best choices!!!!!

    1. You’re right…every single light fixture and vent and to be taken down and redone (18 total) plus those shelves had to come down as well. The ceiling really would have been a fairly quick weekend project if it wasn’t for that, but as it is it took over a week and was kinda a pain in the rear. I was hoping to get the ceiling in our bedroom done as well, but much like childbirth we will have to let to memory of the kitchen ceiling fade a bit before choosing to do it again, haha.

  12. Wood is one of the noblest materials in the interior design. The texture and appearance inspires warmth and gives the impression of style. Great ideas. Thank you for sharing.

  13. Wow! This really did make a difference! It looks really great! I always enjoy checking out your projects, keep up the great work!

  14. Beautiful! Did you stain it to preserve the color? Is the wood pressure treated? OK in the house if pressure treated?

  15. I’m wondering about planking a ceiling and did you just add the planks over top of drywall that was already there? If so do you need to figure out where the studs are prior to installing so that the planks have a good hold or is it enough to simply have it nailed into the drywall? I would worry about them coming off. Maybe some sort of adhesive could be used as well?

    1. Yes, we added the planks right over the drywall and didn’t worry about hitting studs. No problems with them falling, just make sure that the nails go in at alternating angles instead of straight up and down.

  16. Ashley The ceiling looks beautiful. I was wondering if you think it would work on the screen porch? So it would probably not get wet but the expose to temperature changes/humidity. Also thanks for your blog and all of the inspiration. I have been reading it for years, and I love the way you write, and have also always loved The projects you do. So happy for you and your family about your beautiful home, and I love your aesthetic! Blessings to you. Ellen

  17. I love the plank ceiling and think it might be the answer to finally finishing our basement ceiling. Thanks for this post! My question is about the sink pendant, though. Do you find that it hangs straight? I just installed a similar but less expensive ($25 from Home Depot) pendant over our sink and I thought the heat going through the cord would cause it to eventually hang perfectly straight but the “wobbles” in the cord make it a little cockeyed. It is driving me nuts. If yours doesn’t have this problem (maybe the fabric cord hangs better than the rubbery one in mine), I would gladly spend the extra. I just don’t want to do it and have the same issue again! Any problems with yours?

  18. Hello

    The reclaimed wood ceiling project you did. Was that Cedar? What type of wood did you use? Also, what type of finish did you apply to it? Is it a clear finish? I just tore out my family room kitchen ceiling because of water damage and I’m looking to do something really different. I like the way yours turned out?

    I don’t have alot of time, so I just have to go get the wood and do it

    I appreciate your time and help

  19. I am over the moon Soooo Excited to have found your Blog and your post on using fence posts for your kitchen ceiling!!! We’ve just finished framing our house and are now ready to put the ceiling on (in between our glu-lam beams that we’ve stained charred black) and got this crazy idea of using fence boards for the ceiling, you know, to replicate that rustic barnwood look with a fraction of the cost, but I couldn’t find ANY posts or ideas to support our crazy idea until I found YOU. So, please tell me, how it’s holding up for you…. are you still happy with it? Did the boards dry straight without too many gaps between the boards? I’d so appreciate any feedback you might be willing to share…. Your decorating style on all of your posts is right up my alley so I know your blog will be a continual visiting place for me in the days, weeks and months ahead. Thank you in advance for taking the time to read my inquiry….

  20. Hi. Reading your comments- looks like this is bare/unfinished wood. Now that it’s been a few years, would you do anything different? Would you seal them? Has the look changed over time because you left it bare?

  21. Love, love, love it!!
    What are the dimensions of the pickets that you used…Were they 5 1/2” wide? 6 or 8 feet long?

  22. I love this ceiling!! Do you know if the cast off cedar is something found at all fencing supplyers? Also, did you stain or do anything with the cedar or is that natural color? Thanks

  23. Hi, I have a question. I am about to do a pallet accent wall and have heard of using the roofing paper as a backer. Went and picked it up and noticed it had a slightly odor, especially after sitting in the car for a little while while I went to another’s store. Do you notice any smell now that you have the ceiling done?

  24. Thank you so much. I spent a few days trying to figure out what type of ceiling to install, and I didn’t want to spend $1,000 on it. I bought cedar fence planks for $1 a piece and it looks amazing!!! A+ great work.

  25. It’s beautiful. I’m wanting to do the same thing but I have 8 foot ceilings. Do you think that would look good or are my ceilings not high enough? THANKS…

    1. I absolutely think it would look good on an 8 foot ceiling! It may not be “ideal”, but it’s what you have and I think could make for a very unique and cozy space. Go for it!

  26. This is beautiful. I know it has been a while but do you know about how much you paid per square ft for your pickets?

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