Wood plank ceilings work for both traditional and contemporary styles.
Photo courtesy of CTW Features
Give visitors a reason to look up; unique view makes a big statement at a small cost.
Consider the context. “Ceiling treatments should enhance, not detract, from your existing architecture,” said interior designer Sarah Barnard of Santa Monica, Calif. Though moldings and ceiling medallions allow for a dramatic makeover, she said, “there are very few houses in which they authentically belong.”
In ranch- or contemporary-style homes with minimal architectural detail, a tongue-in-groove wood plank ceiling “looks fantastic,” Barnard said.
Go big and bold. Though white is still the safest choice for ceilings, colors and patterns aren't necessarily overpowering.
“Patterned or textured paper on the ceiling has the same grounding effect as a patterned area rug,” Barnard said. “It doesn't take over the room. It pulls it together.”
When painting or stenciling, consider the advice of Jennifer Bertrand, host of HGTV's “Paint Over.”
“I tend to think very graphic and large,” Bertrand said. “I look to vintage fabric for inspiration.”
Color blocking is an easy way to create a bold effect, as are linear patterns such as stripes, checks or chevrons, Bertrand said.
Let there be light. Adding skylights “enhances not just the architecture but occupant happiness,” Barnard said. “Flooding in natural light changes people's experience of the space.”
To get the most sunbeams for your buck, install a “series of beautiful wood-framed rectangular skylights that seem like an integral part of the design, not an afterthought,” Barnard said.
Depending on the home's orientation and ceiling height, a grouping of skylights can frame the sky above, with all its foliage, clouds and birds, she said.
Bring down the house. Vary the ceiling height within the same room to create visual interest, cozier spaces or activity zones. Dropping the perimeter section of ceiling to form an interior soffit makes the middle section seem even loftier while creating intimate, inviting spaces near the walls for conversation and reading.
Coffers, beams and trays also break up the ceiling's expanse for increased visual interest. A coffered ceiling consists of recessed panels framed by beams or molding, usually arranged in a grid. A tray ceiling is one with a raised or recessed center.
If alternating the ceiling height seems too difficult or expensive, create an “implied” tray ceiling by painting a square with a high-gloss pinstripe around it, Bertrand said.
Get on track. Configurable monorail lighting systems offer a fresh take on track lighting, with greater flexibility and aesthetic appeal. The rail accommodates various lighting fixtures, including spotlights and pendants, “so you can have lights aimed up at the ceiling and down on your artwork, as well as task lighting, all on the same track,” Barnard said.
Add texture. Pressed tin ceilings offer repeating patterns and a historical look, but the stamped square plates can be a challenge to install. Molded styrene panels are a more manageable alternative.
It's also easy to create a pressed tin look using Anaglypta wallpaper, an embossed paintable wall covering that's heavier than regular wallpaper, said interior designer Robin Siegerman, author of “Renovation Bootcamp: Kitchen” (Yorkshire Publishing, 2011).
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