About: I am a stay at home dad in NYC who loves to build custom projects around my home. I also run a blog bringing tips, tricks and humor for other stay at home dads at

I was inspired to build a star ceiling after seeing many people post DIY articles online. I knew it would be a fun treat for my newborn son, but I wanted to kick it up a notch.

I have listed these instructions in a Youtube video as well!

For more dad-centered jobs, check out

I wanted to find a way to make the ceiling fun and artistic for both nighttime and daytime! Working in the world of theater and event production in New York has put me in touch with many talented artists. I decided to seek out a painter who could turn our plain white ceiling into a beautiful blue sky with clouds. I knew I could handle the build of the stars, but painting with any grace or skill would have to be left to a professional. Most DIY articles online show a fiber optic installation in a ceiling with access from above. A crawl space or even an attic is used to insert the fiber from the top once holes are punched through the panels. There is a terrific guide HERE that I used as the foundation for my methods. In New York City, access to your ceiling from above is downright impossible. I had to find another way. Luckily, we live in a building with the most amazing landlord I have ever had! He was supportive of the idea to make this ceiling, and his only real response was smiling and saying, "That sounds like a lot of work." With his blessing, I set the plan in motion.

Step 1: Framing

I decided to create a dropped ceiling which would install into my existing ceiling using 2x3 lumber. Since the drywall was never going to bear any load, I did not need to install sticks all around the room. I could create anchor points using 12"/18" cuts of the 2x3. This cut my lumber order down and saved me some money. :-)

The 12" cuts were set in the corners and at some "T" junctions, and the 18" cuts were placed where the drywall panels would meet at a seam. In the center are French cleats that I used as an attempt to keep the panels from bowing in the center.

Step 2: Painting

My friendly painter had the drywall panels delivered to her shop and painted them while I framed the ceiling at home.

She did a tremendous job. (There was an attempt to use Glow In the Dark paint on the panels as well, but it never really worked. Now I don't miss it.)

Step 3: Lighting

Finding a fiber optic star ceiling kit online is super easy. There are many options. I wanted to see if I could find more fiber for less. Having some long ends leading from the panel to the light source would make installation a lot easier. After scouring the internet I ordered my materials from a supplier in China. sent me 16 watt Fiber Optic Lighting Engine with a remote for $75 and a spool of fiber optic cable (7 strands) for $90. The spool was just over 300 feet of cable that I could cut to my own lengths. This saved me a ton of money.

Now I could cut the fiber optic cable to the lengths I needed and install them into the panels. In the end, I would have panels with a complete star layout that could be transported to my apartment, ready for install.

Step 4: Lighting Install

To install the fiber strands into the drywall I found that an individual nail from a 16 gauge nail gun was big enough. Each strand was 0.75mm. I would just lightly tap in the nail with a hammer from the painted side (so as to make as clean a hole as possible), and then run the fiber through from the back. I left a good 6" hanging through on the painted side to make sure the fiber never pulled back through during the setup.

Blue tape helped keep the cable paths clean and in place, and regular Elmer's Glue was enough to hold the fiber in the hole. I just dabbed a drop on the back and pulled it back and forth a couple of times to get the glue in the hole. Drying time took maybe 10 minutes. Super easy!

Simple white glue is the best. My buddy and I did some tests with some glue we found in the shop...It was corrosive to the plastic fiber and ate right through. :-( Glad we figured it out in time.

Step 5: Home Install

So once the completed panels arrived at the apartment, my helpful friends and I went about the main installation.

First we had to splice the 16 watt LED light source into the ceiling light power. Just trim the two pronged end off the power cord for the LED unit and splice that in with some wire nuts to the positive and negative of the ceiling light power.

With the LED light source installed, we could finish putting the ceiling panels up.
This was a challenging process as we had to get the panels in place, trim any edges that were too big, make sure the fiber optic bundle from each panel was sticking out and headed toward the light source, all while picking these 9x4 panels up and down above our heads. It was exhausting and took some will power and coordination, but we managed to screw all the panels into their 2x3 blocks.

There were three panels total. One 4'x6' in the bottom of the image, and two 9'.3" x4' that were patched together with a spare sheet. The goal was to create as few seams as possible.

Step 6: Moulding

Now, what about the seams?

Well, I purchased some moulding from Home Depot. I picked flat moulding as it would be installing right up against the ceiling and not bridging the gap from the wall to ceiling as crown moulding would. The purpose was to cover the seams. The painter added a coat of white to keep the moulding looking bright even with a knick or two over the years. I borrowed a cordless nail gun from a friend to install the moulding, and it worked like a charm.

In a couple hours, I had it complete.

Step 7: Done!

After all was said and done, I did have the painter come by and do some touch ups on the ceiling and the moulding to cover up the errant nail or screw hole and now it looks spectacular.



    • Oil Contest

      Oil Contest
    • Casting Contest

      Casting Contest
    • Planter Challenge

      Planter Challenge

    We have a be nice policy.
    Please be positive and constructive.




    Great idea, wonderful execution and agree with "looking through a window" comment. I have a small bar in my garage that is tiki themed and this idea would work out great! I already painted the ceiling blue and tried putting metal flakes in with the paint but, it had no noticeable effect. This would solve my wish for "stars" at night. Thanks for documenting, posting and sharing your creative soul!!

    1 reply

    Thanks for your support! I wish you the best with the bar. Share the results when you make it happen!

    You should have a few stars in line so and then connect it to an arduino. That way, you can control a few LEDs and create a shooting star effect. Very bright and awesome idea

    1 reply

    Yes! That sounds like an awesome idea. I have seen something similar in other DIY posts. Now that I know how to do the basic installation, I can upgrade it in the future.

    This is awesome. It's something I wanted to do but wasn't quite sure how to go about it. I figured I'd have just one light source, but it was the rest of the logistics I couldn't wrap my brain around. Your idea is much simpler than I had. I like that you put the lights in clumps - like the star constellations in the skies at night. Are they in the right horizons, etc.?

    1 reply

    I had originally wanted to make constellations, but as time got crunched I went for a cluster/random effect. So there are no real horizons being matched.

    I had the same idea for my kid's ceiling (inaccessible through the attic). I thought about doing up a bunch of small tiles (maybe 2x2 feet each) and then putting together some sort of window tromp l'oeil effect to make it look like there are a couple of windows in the ceiling. There are fixtures I don't want to bother covering, so something that doesn't literally cover the whole ceiling would be great. Nice job with yours!

    1 reply


    Here is an instructable of a star tile floor that might have a lot of usefull tips for your ceiling idea.

    Years ago, I had to work in the foothills above our city, and driving home at night, I was treated to a nice view of the city lights, and came up with an idea to build a "wall with a view, " showing all the various lights as seen from the hills above. My design was to use styrofoam panels which I could easily poke holes in to insert the fiber optic cables that would then be attached to their corresponding LED light sources. I even toyed with the idea of mounting a large photographic mural of the cityscape scene that would show a daytime view, which would then become a nighttime view when the lights were turned off. I never really had the time to do this, so it inspires me when I see something like this. Kudos!

    1 reply

    Your ideas sound wonderful.
    Once the ambition is there, you can put your plan into action pretty swiftly. There are so many resources on the internet for inspiration and product purchasing.

    I love this! I have no little ones left at home, but would LOVE to have my own bedroom ceiling lit like this. Any plans for a vacation in Arizona???

    1 reply

    Oh man, I love vacation! I have spoken to some friends in an effort to offer this work for hire to others. Now that we have a system we can keep costs and time streamlined.

    For anyone doing a star ceiling; its important to randomize your star placement (assuming you aren't mimicking known constellations). Since humans tend to make patterns when "randomly" making holes, even when we don't mean to, try tossing a handful of beans or buttons over your star field. Where each bean lands, poke a hole. Some will cluster, some will scatter, but it will look much more natural.

    1 reply

    Could you point to the site where your fiber optic cable in China came from? Did you use Aliexpress?

    2 replies

    Very cool and creative! It's great to know talented friends who can help out too! Thanks for sharing this cool Instructables!