When creating the warm and inviting home that we all strive to achieve, the initial concentration is nearly always on the floors and wall spaces of the rooms. It makes sense! These aspects of a room are what we see first, they are what draw our immediate attention. But what about the important element right above our heads? Think of the ceiling in your room as one more canvas to design, and a way to completely tie a room together.
Here are some things you may not have realized about that blank ceiling above your head, and some sources of inspiration for your upcoming project!
In this industry, you learn an important rule called the 1:6:1 ratio. Basically, this means that the longer or wider a room is, the more the ceiling should be raised proportionally (think of how awkward and claustrophobic a huge room with a low ceiling would feel). By taking an otherwise plain view above and adding details that reflect the 1:6:1 ratio and enhance the scale of the ceiling, you are giving your guests some eye candy with detail they won’t soon forget.
One thing I love to do is discover the history behind architecture and learn the evolution of design to our modern fads. In the eighteenth century, keeping your house warm was a primary concern. The answer to this problem was to create rooms that were smaller and with low ceilings, as they were easier to heat and keep warm. The old tradition still proves true today, though our taste for room size has become quite larger.
New England in particular has severe winters, with heating bills during that time erupting through the roof. That is why you will typically find smaller rooms with low ceilings in the old houses in this region. These rooms have a certain charm and atmosphere that seems to drain any chill from your bones after walking through the brisk New England air. They have the wonderful ability to have you feeling cozy without feeling cramped.
With bright, cheerful colors, good lighting, and warm and welcoming decorating, a small room can seem the opposite–even if you’re tall! There are always ways to make a room seem bigger in addition to creative decorating of the ceilings. Low furniture helps trick the eye into thinking the ceiling is higher than it is, and adding architectural elements such as pediments and pilasters will naturally draw the eye upwards, creating height.
If you are looking to literally gain height in a room on the top floor, you can inquire about cutting out your ceiling and opening it to roof height. If you have a window in the attic, you can incorporate it into your room, gaining some extra light, and the higher ceiling will make the room feel enormous compared to previously. “Great rooms,” which have taken the place of formal living rooms, incorporate this sense of openness and light.
With the ceilings in your home, I encourage you to think outside the box! There are countless things you can consider for your ceiling: trim, paint color, lacquer finish, wallpaper, or even tea paper. Try experimenting with different colored paints. You’ll find that painting your ceiling a darker color will bring the ceiling down, while installing squares of Chinese silver or gold-life rice paper will create a feeling of the sun’s warmth in any room.
Strategically designed elements added to the ceiling of any room not only gives it an elegant finishing touch, but can also make up for any flaws you might find in a room which fixing is out of your reach. If your room suffers from low ceilings, adding crown molding where the ceiling meets the wall brings the eye upward, which creates the illusion of height. And, as I said before, painting the ceiling a darker color will create a feeling of a lower ceiling, giving a room that cozy touch.
Coffered ceilings (below) are an easy and customizable way to add texture and a pique of interesting detail to any ceiling. Small square or rectangular panels are applied to the ceiling, and they are often painted to match or coordinate with the color theme of the room. You can also find coffered ceilings with tin panels, which give a stunning contrast to the walls of a room and transform the ceiling from the roof above your head to the focal point and work of art in the room.
I know I’ve expressed my secret love of paneling before, and wood paneling on ceilings is no different! Adding this detail to ceilings can add a subtle, yet stylish upgrade to any room. Matching the paneling to the other trim elements in your home to create the decorative flow between rooms in a home, which is harder to achieve than you’d think!
There is no limit to which rooms in your home can have special attention paid to the ceiling! Dining rooms, for example, offer a warm and welcoming space where family and friends gather to share meals and each other’s company. The ceiling of dining rooms is often overlooked in the designing process–after all, you are usually looking straight ahead at your dinner guests, or down at your food. However, adding simple, yet dramatic ceiling details to your dining room is an easy way to add a sense of style and elegance to a room that, at least in my family, gets used very often!
Some people ask, why take the effort to design the ceiling? This is a matter of perspective: when you imagine a room, you must think of the room as a whole. When such tremendous detail is put into every other aspect of the room but the ceiling, the room feels unsophisticated and unfinished. Back to the dining room example: dining rooms with stylistic details such as crown molding, ceiling medallions, rims, and other embellishments not only add a touch of sophistication, but also shows an eye for detail in the homeowner.
Many homes that I’ve gone into will have stunning chandeliers hanging above their dining room tables, with the chains simply going into a plain, unadorned ceiling. While a chandelier is always an elegant addition to any room, I always believe that the time should be put into what surrounds this beautiful lighting piece. Adding details to a ceiling with a chandelier hanging can take it to a new level of architectural detail.
Whether its simple paneling or ornate molding, paying special attention to the detail of the ceilings in your home can take any ordinary design to a richly layered artistic detail. So, think outside the box! Don’t forget the usually neglected ceilings in your home–imagine what detail you’re missing out on!