diy project: bronze nail ceiling design

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!

  1. Sing says:

    I love it, very cool.

  2. Ruth says:

    WOW!!! That is stunning- and it looks acheivable too – could be looking out the DIY kit this weekend….

  3. that. is. incredible. my head is spinning with design ideas. looks very tedious but pam did a bang-up job.

  4. WOW. Pam, you have some serious patience to tackle something like this! It looks awesome though. I’ve never thought about nail heads on a ceiling- very unique.

  5. JenO says:

    LOVE this idea, it inspires so many ways that decorative nail strips could be used as linear detail in decor. But, we should be totally sure the ceiling (or wall) is drywall and not plaster if we want to do this!

  6. Sammy says:

    Wow this is beautiful!! All in the details :)

  7. Alisha says:

    I am very very impressed. That method would be quite effective as a framed pattern on a wall as well. I’m thinking big white Victorian Frame on a richly colored wall in my dining room. Done. Going shopping!

  8. Clare says:

    Oh, this is fabulous! What a great idea

  9. Thank you so much for sharing my ceiling, Kate! It is quite the honor to be included with the amazing diy projects you feature!

  10. Holy moly, that’s awesome

  11. This is so cool -sort of Michael Angelo of nailhead trim!

  12. k. says:

    Holy cow, this is incredible!! What impact!

  13. erin says:

    Beautifully refreshing DIY! Nice work, I love it.

  14. Sarah says:

    I love this! I’ve been looking for an unusual treatment for an accent wall and this might just be it. Thanks for the inspired thinking!

  15. lou says:

    Why not a accent wall? Small hallway, possibilities are endless. Kitchen cabinet fronts Ideas abound

  16. Cheyanne says:

    I love the subtle texture this adds. I just might have to use a similar effect on my dining table I just gave a mini makeover.

  17. thedesctop says:

    I’m obsessed with this! Absolutely brilliant Pam! Thanks for sharing.

  18. Maegan says:

    Wow! This ceiling makeover makes such an impact. I love this. I have been toying with the idea of a painted ceiling in my tiny drab entryway but this is what I wanted and didn’t even know it yet. That’s why I love D*S. Way to go Pam!

  19. kk says:

    love the chandelier. could you tell me where did you get it?

  20. Dianne says:

    This is a great ceiling detail that is very dramatic and unique!

  21. Dale says:

    I like the way the decoration attracts your eye to the ceiling and chandelier… I think you’d get pretty bad neck ache doing this but the end result would be fantastic!

  22. Frankie says:

    THE BOMB!!!

  23. Traci says:

    I am IN LOVE!! This idea could not have come at a better time for me! I will be doing this to my Master bedroom ceiling or wall!!

  24. Lois says:

    Just love it, so creative!

  25. Michael says:

    Great designs. Ceiling design is a specialty that takes years to perfect. This is a set of skills learned and practiced over an apprenticeship of many years, there are some useful aspects of plastering that can be learned quickly. With on going practice you will be amazed at how quickly you are able to produce results that you would be happy to pay for or maybe even be paid for !


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