Decorating a room? Do not forget the ceiling

bedroom with wooden ceiling
(Photo: Envato Elements)
When you are decorating a room, it is easy to obsess over what is covering the floor and the walls. But what about the ceiling?

It rarely gets much attention — beyond a coat of flat, white paint. And that is a missed opportunity.اضافة اعلان

“To leave the ceiling behind — when you’ve resolved the other surfaces in a room — seems not only unfortunate but also throws off the balance,” said New York designer Steven Gambrel. “If I’ve got texture on the walls or material on the floor that has character, I’m trying to give that top surface the same level of patina — or massive contrast.”

The way Corey Damen Jenkins, an interior designer in New York, sees it, the ceiling may be more important than the walls.

“In a room, you usually have six planes — four walls, the floor, and the ceiling — but the ceiling is the only plane that’s unobstructed by artwork and furniture,” said Jenkins, who is no stranger to making big statements overhead. “I sometimes even start there and work my way down.”

Embellishing the ceiling is especially important in rooms that guests will see, including “powder rooms, bars, libraries, dining rooms, places where you might be having a cocktail or eating dinner,” said Fern Santini, a designer based in Austin, Texas. “You can do fun things to create fun rooms that have instant mood.”

We asked a few designers to walk us through the process, step by step.

Make it reflectiveWhen Gambrel wants a statement ceiling, he sometimes gives it a mirrorlike finish of high-gloss paint. “That, of course, brings in a ton of light, meaning that light begins to bounce across the ceiling,” he said. “It adds a little polish.”

To achieve his desired finish, he uses multiple coats of ultra-high-gloss Hollandlac enamel from Fine Paints of Europe. But because the shiny surface will reveal any imperfections, the ceiling must be skim-coated and sanded perfectly smooth first. Gambrel has used neutral colors to simply bounce more light around a room but has also created attention-grabbing ceilings in colors like vibrant peachy pink and coral.

Jenkins achieved a similar look in a dining room with Venetian plaster burnished to a high gloss. “It almost looks like a pool of water on the ceiling, upside down,” he said.

Add a metallic touchAdding a metallic finish to a ceiling will also make it shine. One option is to apply gold leaf or some other metal leaf to the drywall or to use a wallcovering with the same look.

Douglas C. Wright, an architect in New York, added pressed tin to the ceiling of a kitchen in Connecticut and left it unpainted — an old idea that adds texture and shine.

“We had to work with a low ceiling, and the tin ceiling reflects a lot of light,” Wright said. “It took what was kind of a dim, dark space and made it bright, warm and cozy.”

Blast it with patternDespite its name, wallpaper is not just for walls. While it is more commonly applied to vertical surfaces, it’s also delightful on a ceiling.

Jenkins has designed rooms with wallpapered ceilings featuring elaborate florals, clouds, and multicolored, marbleized patterns. Santini once designed a kitchen with a ceiling covered by a swarm of illustrated honeybees, thanks to wallpaper from Timorous Beasties.

“We could have just painted it white, and it would have been so boring,” she said. “This is another layer that makes the room so interesting.”

Panel it in woodSometimes a room calls for something a bit more understated. Then the best approach to take may be paneling a ceiling in wood, which adds visual interest without stealing the show.

Wright has designed many types of paneled wood ceilings, both painted and unfinished. For a cozy library in Connecticut, he covered the ceiling with wide boards painted a deep purple. “They’re just wood boards, butt-jointed and painted,” he said. “It creates a striped pattern similar to the wood floor.”

For the lounge of a house in Short Hills, New Jersey, where the goal was to make the room light and bright, he added V-groove paneling to the ceiling and painted it glossy white, creating a more pronounced pattern that still has plenty of reflectivity.

Add architectural detailsYou do not have to cover the entire ceiling with wood to give it personality. Another option is to use molding in wood or plaster to add architectural detail. Crown molding that runs around the edge of the ceiling is the most common choice, but there are other options as well.

When Jenkins designed a new house in Ann Arbor, Michigan, he used thin MDF molding to create shapes above the open living and dining area, defining the seating areas and setting off the light fixtures. “I designed this geometric trim on the ceiling,” he said. “But it’s all flat stock and very inexpensive.”

Gambrel routinely designs rooms with muscular crown molding, but he has also used trim to give ceilings a subtle coffered or beamed look, or to create grids that hide access panels and serve as frames around light fixtures. In many cases, he paints this woodwork a contrasting color and sheen to show it off.

Wash it with plasterEven if you do not want much decoration overhead, there are subtle ways to add visual interest.

One of Gambrel’s favorite options is waxed plaster: a coat of bare plaster finished only with wax after it dries. “It’s still smooth to the touch, but it has a lot of movement to the finish,” which is picked up by the eye, he said. “It feels alive, unlike a rolled coat of flat paint.”

When he wanted a deeper color with more variation for the foyer of a London apartment, Gambrel chose tadelakt, another type of plaster, coating both the walls and the ceiling in it, for a finish that looks as soft as suede.

The ceiling, he noted, shouldn’t be an afterthought — and it should not look like one, either.

Whether you want an elaborately embellished ceiling or one with a simple, calm finish, he said, “you want to make it look intentional and like it was considered.”

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