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Dumpster Diving: Salvaged Ceiling Rose

I can't believe the shit people will throw away. But...finders keepers.

There in a pile of renovation rubble was a ceiling rose (currently marketed by big box stores as "ceiling medallion" because they don't think you know anything about history).

Granted, this was a knock-off of the real-deal roses but legit plaster roses are almost impossible to find in America. They're largely only appreciated and made by the English. If you can find an original here, chances are it's just a piece of one or it's badly damaged.

Before: A trashed ceiling rose salvaged from the dumpster pile.

So...I'll take what I can get.

And I did.

Bet it looked pretty funny watching me drag this massive thing back to my house about a mile away.


While beautiful and ornate, ceiling roses were designed to be equally functional and glamorous.

With pre-electricity ceiling lighting (oil lamps, candles, etc.), the soot and heat would damage the plaster ceiling above. It was a lot easier to clean and replace a plaster ceiling rose than it was to remove and repair the plaster ceiling itself.

When electric lighting came into play, roses were still helpful in hiding unsightly junction boxes and electrical components.

Today, they are strictly ceiling bling.

In Europe, new roses are still cast in plaster molds with the same level of detail and intricacy as before. In America, we now make and buy Basic Bitch ceiling roses that are plastic or wood - conveniently located "down that aisle."

Dressing Up Your Basic Bitch Ceiling Rose

While not plaster, the wood ceiling rose I found still had a lovely design. It just needed some help. For those people who think you buy these in the store and glue them up as can't be helped.

The video above shows step-by-step how to "antiqued" a Basic Bitch ceiling rose. If you can't find a real one there are plenty of wood ones available online in varying degrees (and prices) of detail work. Like THIS ONE.

For those of you with shitty wi-fi connections, here you go:

1. Using a piece of fine grade sandpaper (150-180) and give all the grooves a scrub on the front so the paint has something to hold onto.

2. Do the same for the back. In my case there was chunks of ceiling and globs of old glue. Scrape, sand. Repeat.

3. Paint. Using a latex paint give the ceiling rose a new coat. I picked a matching ivory. To me, I'm trying to match the age of the Babe Cave so a sparkling pure white wouldn't make sense. To mimic something that has lived here for 110 years, I need to add the age back in. Ivory paint is a smarter base color.

4. Get your antiquing gel. Find it at Lowe's or easier, order HERE. This type of stain can be very intimidating. It's pitch black and dries very fast. Not that I ever do it...but try a test run on some scrap wood. Using an artists brush PUSH it into all the grooves. The antique look is largely achieved by getting a wear-and-tear look so it's essential to get that stain into every crevice. Now QUICK! Wipe it off. Using a damp rag you intend to throw away wipe away the stain until you get the desired look. It will remain the the woods crevices and that's what you want.

After the first coat of antique stain the ceiling rose starts to pick up character

5. After the stain dries pick out a metallic gold paint (like this one HERE) and using a clean small brush, apply to the best features of the ceiling rose. Don't overdo it by painting everything. You want certain details to be highlighted and others to be less featured. I picked the biggest leaves.

Metallic gold paint creates instant ceiling bling

6. Metallic gold paint by itself it bold and bright - not what we are looking for. Applying the antique stain to metallic gold will only make it look dark and dull. Gold, when it ages naturally, takes on a sort of reddish color. Pick up a small bottle of "Burnt Umber"

paint (such as this HERE) and using just a dot, paint over the gold making sure to hit the embossed areas well. Using a paper cloth, immediately wipe if off while leaving a fair amount of overall color but mostly in the grooves.

Add some age to the ceiling rose with Burnt Umber paint

7. As your going around the rose, try not to apply and wipe uniformly. Paint and materials to not age evenly so there should be some variation. Maybe a bit more Burnt Umber here, a little less there.

Salvaged, antiqued and now ready to be installed on the ceiling!

8. When it's completely dry, coat with a spray or paint on polyurethane to seal it. For quick jobs I use THIS.


Its recommended that you install your ceiling rose BEFORE decorating since adhesive and drills are involved. You'll also have nails to cover. Personally, I don't like being told what to do and I'm not trying to paint the fucking Sistine Chapel so I would probably decorate and be prepared to do touch-ups.

If you have a real plaster rose, first of all, I envy you. Second, your installation is slightly different. Variations for each (plaster vs. wood/plastic) are included below.

1. First you need a LICENSED electrician to install your junction boxes, let you know how big of an opening to run the wires through the rose and whether or not your current fixture will fit with the rose.

Better to pick out a fixture for your ceiling rose than the other way around. The size of both is largely dictated by how big the room is and how high the ceilings are. Since this installation takes some work, this would be a great time to update with the lighting fixture of your dreams to match the ceiling rose.

2. Plaster roses do not have a center hole so you will need to drill one for the wires to come through. Use your LICENSED electrician's measurements. The modern day Basic Bitch roses are pre-drilled.

3. Lightly sand the ceiling area you intend to install the rose upon and identify the joists to which you will use a dry wall screw to mount the ceiling rose into. Mark the joists and outline in pencil the circular area where the rose goes.

4. For plaster, apply cornice adhesive (HERE) to the back. For wood, use a heavy-duty adhesive of your choosing.

5. Apply the rose to the ceiling and hold it there for a few minutes. Using your electric drill put four screws in, thereby mounting the rose into the rafters.

6. Cover the screw heads with a bit of plaster or paintable caulk. Do the same to fill in the inevitable gap between the edge of the rose and the ceiling.

7. Wipe off the dust. Decorate or retouch.

Now step down from your ladder and look at the level of badassery you just added to your home!

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If ceiling roses aren't your thing, try tin tiles. Full "how-to" on "How to Install A "Coppered" Ceiling."

Ta-Da! A little bit of work and this piece of trash is now a stunning ceiling rose

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