When most people plan and implement a remodeling project, they mostly think about their floors and walls. Of course these are important, but what most people forget is there is a "fifth wall".....the ceiling.
Architects and interior designers suggest that in making a truly stunning "look" you need to address the appearance of the ceiling as well as the other components of the room. This does not mean you need to go overboard or spend a lot of money. What you are trying for is a cohesive presentation of the design features.
There are a number of affordable ways to improve the appearance of a ceiling.
Paint costs around $12 to $50 a gallon making it one of the most affordable ways to improve a ceiling if it is in good condition already. Lighter colors can make a room feel larger, while darker colors can warm up a room. One technique to make room seem to have a taller ceiling is to continue a wall color as a perimeter color around the ceiling. However, this is a little daunting for most people to implement correctly, so tread forward with an experimental mindset.
If you have lower, say 8 foot ceilings, it probably not be wise to use a dark color, because it would make the room feel smaller and the ceiling even lower. lighter colors usually work better in this application. However in a room with a high ceiling, a darker color can make the the room feel warmer.
Paint is a good option if you have a ceiling that is smooth and undamaged.
One time tested way to make a room have a more finished, refined look is to add molding. Molding creates a visual focal point and gives the room more definition.
One of most common types of molding is crown molding that goes around the perimeter of the ceiling. There are endless types of crown molding and you can even create your own pattern by combining different pieces. This is a project that a beginner can do with some of the faux wood choices in building supply stores with pieces already to install in corners so the DIY'er doesn't have to learn to make miter cuts.
Taking it a step further would involve wood molding and learning to use a miter box. This is not a difficult skill to learn, but it does take a little practice. Having a professional installation is a choice if desired, and a 10x18 room would cost around $300 to $1400 depending on the type molding used and the complexity of the installation.
In addition to crowning molding there are medallions that can be put around light fixtures and installed with the ease of adhesive.
If you are dealing with a ceiling that has irregular surfaces of damage, you might want to install a new ceiling to get a clean new look. This could be a daunting project if you have sheetrock installed (if that even possible), however a manufactured ceiling make be your best choice and the most economical way to proceed.
Basically there are two types of these ceiling, suspended and those that are mounted to a system that is directly connected to the existing ceiling. The later is a much more recent innovation and is a vast improvement over the older suspended ceiling where the track system is attached by wires "suspended" from the older ceiling. The old way was more expensive and required a much higher level of skill than these newer system that fit right up to the existing ceiling.
The advantages of these newer ceilings are numerous:
You do not lose 9-12 inches of ceiling height like suspended ceiling.
You do not have to worry about getting everything level as with suspended ceilings.
The skill required is much less.
The amount of help you need is less, in fact you might be able to do it alone.
If you have a damp room, the newer system will not corrode like the metal grid suspended systems normally use.
It's a whole lot cheaper!
However you proceed in remodeling your room, just remember the ceiling is an integral part of the package. Make your ceiling look as good as the rest of the design.