DIYdiy projects

diy project: bronze nail ceiling design

by Kate Pruitt

We’re taking a short break from valentine projects, but there will be another awesome Valentine’s Day post coming up after this. Grace, Amy and I are gearing up for some major DIY time while I’m in NYC this month, and one of the ideas we’ve been tinkering with involves copper tacks — lots of ’em. Consequently, I’ve been researching metal tacks, nails and the like, but I had never seen this cool nailhead trim until this amazing ceiling DIY project by Pam of Simple Details landed in my inbox.

Using a cardboard template, a bunch of these nifty nailhead strips and a lot of patience, Pam created the gorgeous octagonal ceiling pattern in her dining room for about $65. I love the look of this; it’s somehow subtle yet impossible to miss at the same time, and the geometric patterns set off the ornate chandelier marvelously. If you don’t have the ceiling conditions to suit this project, worry not: this idea is easily adaptable to other parts of the house. Thanks so much for sharing, Pam! — Kate

Read the full how-to after the jump!


  • nailhead trim — 40″ strips (I used 44), or you can buy it in yards here
  • loose nailhead nails (Some trim will need nails every 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th head. You can usually purchase these with the trim, or they will be available separately. Do the math to figure out how many you need, and be sure to buy extra just in case.)
  • octagon shape out of cardboard (My ceiling is roughly 8′ x 9′ and I used a 22″ x 21″ octagon. You can simply print an octagon shape online and enlarge it with a copier.)
  • pencil
  • hammer
  • ladder or step stool (for reaching your ceiling)



1. Determine where you plan to begin your pattern — you could start around a light fixture, from the center or from the edge. Then, using a pencil, lightly trace around the pattern on the ceiling.

2. Follow your pattern and start nailing. A tack is placed at very fifth nailhead. I was able to push the tacks directly into the drywall in some areas, but it helps to have a hammer handy, as well.

3. Keep nailing. The strips easily break apart when you get to the end of a line. I measured mine by putting the strip up to the pattern and breaking off the amount needed.

4. If your nails don’t line up exactly as you had hoped, you can gently remove and shift the lines over a bit to adjust. Don’t worry about slight imperfections in the pattern, though. Just do your best!

5. Add a line of tacks around the perimeter for a finishing touch. After adding the border, touch up any visible pencil lines and smudges with paint.

6. Done! Patience is key in this project, but the results are worth it!

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