Lions, and Lions, and Lions – Oh My!

I work with pretty fun people at my school. Our small district likes to say that we’re a family, and it really is true. Some people you love, some people you hate, there’s always someone complaining about politics and how stupid people are….. so yeah. It’s like a family. Because we’re so small, you get to know people pretty well, so when your co-worker Lauren says, “I have a ceiling medallion in my barn. It’s not old or very fancy, but I’m not going to use it, and I thought with your house, you might?”

I have several life rules, and one of them is to never, ever refuse a free ceiling medallion. Lauren was like, “It’s really big. Seriously, it’s massive.”

My inner monologue was like, “People always think old house parts are really big and then they usually aren’t so it’s probably just normal sized.” She brought it to school, and I went to get it out of her car.

Okay. She was not playing.

I LOVED it. And though the size is insane, it will work with the 11′ ceilings just fine. I did agree with her though, that it’s not crazy fancy, and I kind of wanted it to be. My initial thought was to put a SECOND medallion or ring in the center, but that didn’t look right. So instead, I got a bunch of composite appliqués to make it fancier myself. I tried a bunch of combinations.

Eventually, I settled on the one that used EVERYTHING. Because apparently in this library, more is more.

I have this thing with animals in house elements : monkey wallpaper, goat sconces, a gold octopus in the black bedroom. These Lions are my FAVORITE, and I figured if lions were good enough to grace the entrance to the New York Public Library, then maybe mine should have some, too.

Not a sponsored post, but this gold spray paint is THE BEST spray gold for gilding that I have ever used in my life. It’s SO GOOD.

With the ceiling being gold, I wanted the base color of the medallion to also be gold.

I like painting things by hand, but if you have the right spray paint, it’s really fantastic to be able to get into all of the crevices in a piece like this. He is glorious.

Big Lion Little Lion!

Next, I had to plot colors. The rim of the medallion has some detail, so I started there.

This is ridiculous (but also useful!). I took a picture, and then used the “Mark-Up” feature on my phone to play with some colors. While they wouldn’t be perfect, it gave me some ideas of what things could look like.

Here are all the pieces laid out in gold!

Time to start on the main medallion!

I used the wall color on the center, and part of the rim.

And then I painted these outside icons (eggs? strawberries?) with acrylic paint.

I pulled the colors from the wallpaper!

Then the border went green….

And the main medallion was done!

I set myself up a little studio in the empty parlor.

The light in here is actually pretty spectacular when it’s sunny out. (This was this summer – so hence the shorts!).

I used scrap wallpaper to protect the table – so that I could just be staring at it for color inspiration.

Here are the before and afters for each piece!

It’s very Liberace. And when I did this, I worried that it would be too much. Which I ALWAYS DO when painting a ceiling medallion, and then when it’s 11 feet in the air it looks fine. So I tried not to worry.

Here it is, all together and massive!

So then it just sat for a few months until the room was ready for it, which was this past weekend.

We used the “Egg Strawberries” to align the pieces, and made some markers with scrap wood to make sure they were all the same distance form the center hole.

We attached the appliqués with heavy duty construction adhesive.

After drying overnight, everything seemed super secure for us to install.

Doug was like, “This is the biggest pizza ever.” And I took some pictures, but I promise I helped with this install.

The plan : use construction adhesive on the back, and then shoot a few nails into the piece to hold it up while the glue dried.

The Plan = Failure, So, the construction adhesive that was holding the appliqués on? As soon as the nail gun vibration hit the medallion, most of them came crashing down. The glue stuck to the paint, but the pain peeled off the medallion.

So I held it up (jello arms ensued), and Doug made a quick plan B.

Since the appliqués had already failed, we shot the medallion in all the empty spaces, and the reattached the appliqués overtop. It was a very stressful 10 minutes – but we had to act fast with the glue on the main medallion. Once the medallion was secure, we took our time putting the appliqués back up and trying to line them up over our heads. And then, we pin nailed them to keep them in.

Afterwards, I said, “Why do we do this?” And Doug said, “Because once you step back and look at how good things look, you forget how terrible it was to get there sometime.”

So bottom line – everything was fixable, and it looks SO GOOD now.

Also, it’s almost Christmas! We hope you all have a safe and healthy holiday. We’re going to be holed up here, working on projects, Facetiming family, and cooking some good meals.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!


  1. The medallion is so beautiful and I love that you showed all the steps and how you did this. Thanks for keeping it real. We all have house reno glitches don’t we? Very clever fix! Happy holidays!

  2. If it was me, I would have just left it at the gold stage…..but I tend to like things simple. But as always, it looks amazing once it is finished and in place! Merry Christmas!

  3. OMG looks SO incredible! You always amaze me – and you did not disappoint with this one!!!!!

  4. Like Tammy, I probably would have left the medallion gold — but that’s because I don’t have your wildly creative sense for how things will look in color. The finished version is beyond fabulous.

    I don’t comment often, but I love reading your blog and keeping up with your renovation projects. We’re working on getting our basement back in shape after we had work done on the foundation, and reading your blog — and Restoring Ross’s blog — is keeping me energized and motivated to persevere.

    Merry Christmas to you, and best wishes to us all for a better new year.

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