December 17, 2018

Up in the air: Floating decor that makes an impact

When it comes to decorating, I’ve got hang-ups — in a good way. You see, I love to hang objects from the ceiling. And I’m not talking chandeliers or mobiles. I’m more inclined to hang delicate objects en masse, like feathers above a bed, silk rose petals above the aisle at a wedding or hundreds of gold pingpong balls above a Thanksgiving table. While these hanging decorations are typically installed for a special occasion or holiday, I’ve been known to keep them up indefinitely. (It always breaks my heart to have to take them down.)

There’s something dramatic — and certainly unexpected — about ephemera cascading from the ceiling. For me, it’s really the final frontier in decorating. The walls and floors are already taken by furniture and art. But the airspace above our heads is valuable decorating real estate that is rarely utilized. So why not use it?

My method for hanging is pretty simple. I either glue or tie objects to thread or monofilament, also known as fishing line. (I use thread for lighter elements like rose petals and monofilament for heavier objects.) Then I attach the thread or monofilament to the ceiling. If what I’m hanging is feather-light, poster putty will do the trick. For anything that is medium-weight, I use a 3M Command Strip adhesive hook. And if I’m hanging something heavy that I want to make sure does not fall, I use ceiling eye-hook screws.

The following are some examples of ways that I’ve suspended objects in the air. My hope is that you will be inspired to have a few “hang-ups” of your own. 

Floating flowers

I love to display flowers on the table, but there’s often not enough room for them during the meal, given the space needed for all the dishes of food. An alternative is to hang your flowers above the table. I chose calla lilies because their stems are thick enough to hold enough moisture for the flowers to stay fresh out of water for about two days. (Hopefully, your dinner party would be over by then.) Of course, you can also use artificial flowers. The calla lilies were hung with monofilament and attached to the ceiling with 3M Command Strip hooks. 

Rose petal storm

Probably what I hang most often are silk rose petals. Suspended as if falling from the ceiling, they look like a camera snapped a picture while the petals were in midair, leaving them frozen in time. I’ve created this effect for romantic dinners for two, as well as for weddings and special events. To assemble strands of rose petals, I ran a needle and thread through three to six petals per strand, spacing the petals apart and gluing the point where the petals touch the thread. The strands of petals are light enough to attach to the ceiling with poster putty.

Whirly chandelier

I don’t have a chandelier above my dining room table, so I made a makeshift one that is much cooler using clear-glass globe candleholders from CB2. I secured them with monofilament and attached them to the ceiling with eye-hook screws. In each globe, I placed an LED battery-operated candle. I’ve also used the hanging globes as an ever-changing exhibit, placing various objects inside the globe depending on season. 

Cascading pingpong balls

As if cooking Thanksgiving dinner wasn’t stressful enough, I got it into my head two weeks before the holiday to spray-paint 600 pingpong balls shiny gold and suspend them from the ceiling over our table. After four days of painstakingly painting each individual ball, I created strands of four to six pingpong balls by running a needle and thread through them and evenly spacing them out. Then I applied a dab of glue to the contact points where the balls touched the thread so the balls would stay in place. I attached them to the ceiling with 3M Command Strip hooks. They stayed up through December, and I’ve kept all the strands of pingpong balls so I can duplicate the look another time.

Halo of feathers

When I designed a bedroom for the Designer Showcase at Greystone Mansion several years ago, I thought the showpiece  would be an illuminated headboard I had built that featured a photograph of an angel sunning by the pool. After all, it cost about $3,000. But the first thing people said when they walked in was, “Look at the feathers hanging from the ceiling.” I had hung a halo of feathers from the ceiling using simple thread and poster putty, and it was this little unexpected decorating touch, which cost only $10, that got all the attention.