In Defense of “Popcorn Ceilings” … Yes, Really

Every time you tune in to the DIY Network or some other channel dedicated to home improvement, you’re bound to hear it.

“Well, the FIRST thing we have to do is get rid of these popcorn ceilings.”

No matter what the premise of the show is, or who the decor experts are consulting, there is emphatic agreement.

“Oh, yes. Popcorn ceilings are sure to summon demons and ensure the coming of the antichrist. We’ll get to fixing that load-bearing wall if we’re able to, first things first!”

I grew up (like so many of us children of the 80s) with popcorn ceilings, and they really kinda spoke to me from the beginning. Anytime we renovated, and my dad would whip out the texture paint roller and the long pole, I would watch in amazement. Traditional wall paint was nice, but the popcorn would go on with a satisfying squish, squish sound. It was almost fibrous, like spreading tuna salad onto the ceiling, until it dried and took on its other, more well-known “edible” appearance. Once I became an adult, I became aware that this heavy texture hides all manner of mistakes and flaws, as well as muffles sound, so that children’s squabbles aren’t deafening and other bedroom sounds aren’t as easily discernible – making it the perfect domestic ceiling covering. As a kid, I just loved looking at it and finding hidden images, as you would in a sky full of clouds or stars.

(Now, just to clarify, I’m not talking about the kind with the glitter in it, I’ll admit, that’s pretty obnoxious)

When we bought our home 17 years ago, the ceilings were tile or plaster, older than the popcorn trend, and I had to get used to not seeing those familiar bumps. I didn’t exactly mind, but it did take a minute for me to get used to it.

But then recently, my family and I were fortunate enough to spend a few nights away at a friend’s vacation home. The first night, snuggled up under the blankets, I looked up at the ceiling as my eyes started drooping, and I caught a flash of nostalgia. Popcorn ceilings. It gave me such a warm, comforting feeling, and I’m sure I sounded as though I was already dreaming and talking in my sleep as I murmured to my husband- “Awwwwwwwww. Popcorn. Look up. It’s been so long….”

By the way, there’s no metaphor here. No imagery, symbolism, or double meaning. Popcorn ceilings are one of those home design elements that- like accent walls and built-in bookshelves around fireplaces- I will always love. So, when people knock on them so hard, it bums me out. Why? What gives, y’all? Unlike shag carpeting (who EVER thought that was a good idea?!) or conversation pits (I’ll just say it: UNSAFE) it serves a clear purpose, is relatively inexpensive and easy to apply, and is not unattractive.

I hope there are more like me out there, fans of the old bumpy, clumpy but cute texture. 80’s babies who enjoy both the connection to the past and the simple solution to so many decorating headaches.

At any rate, if this isn’t you and you see these ceilings in someone’s home, don’t assume that they’re too lazy to change them. They may actually like to party like it’s 1989.

Jeanne Rougelot
Jeanne is a proud Westbanker and wife, full time working parent, and middle child. She and her insanely handsome husband of 20 years have 2 daughters, aged 15 and 7. Her hobbies include cake decorating, reading, devouring movies, and slowly turning into her mother. When they are not patronizing local restaurants, she and her family enjoy driving around to take in the surroundings of their home, from Lafitte to Folsom, and all points in between. She is a passionate advocate for Ovarian Cancer Awareness.


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