For too long the ceiling has been the forgotten feature of the interiors world. Every room has one, every room has to have one and they are virtually all plain white or various shades thereof. There is a reason for this – it is the largest space in any given room. It is ‘larger’ than the floor because, visually, it is a single surface area with minimal disruption. Generally the only features breaking up that space are light fittings, and very often a room does not have a central ceiling light but softer lighting provided by wall lights or table and floor lamps.
To retain that unity usually supporting beams (more so metal than wooden) are regarded as an integral part of the ceiling so are treated in the same way and hence painted in the same colour. In older houses where the wooden beams are regarded as a positive architectural feature, they can be treated, stained and finished to retain the inherent warmth of their natural colour. This in turn becomes a useful styling reference for which colour furniture or furnishings to choose – bring in the same colour tone for your wooden coffee table or pick out the detail on your sofa legs or feet.
A white ceiling offers a neutral platform, the artists’ blank canvas for adding style and statement to your home. Coffered ceilings work particularly well in living rooms, lounge areas and sophisticated bedrooms. By utilising creative lighting around the perimeter of the recesses a warm ambience is diffused, enhancing the room. It is a design method used in so many hotels and restaurants to provide function (the customer needs light) with feel (the customer requires visual comfort).
Historically, in grand classical homes decorative mouldings, cornicing and intricate plaster work were used to create ceilings of incredibly intricate patterns of scrolls and swirls, flowers, cherubs, rural idylls and religious scenes. Think of the Sistine Chapel ceiling painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512 – there was a man who went way beyond your everyday Magnolia painted ceiling – what further inspiration do you wish for?
With high ceilings comes the arena for strong light features – such as a shimmering chandelier or a fitting comprising multiple light sources. A double height living room cries out for dynamic style – think big – big pictures, big mirrors, big illumination; the ceiling is further away so pull it into the room with well anchored additions.
White ceilings feel ‘right’ and are easy on the eye. A wooden ceiling painted in one of the myriad of white shades available adds texture to a room and conveys “I’m casual and homely”. It works particularly well in a rural or marine, or cottage –y setting. If you live in a white walled home with not very high ceilings paint your ceiling a subtle one or two shades lighter than the white walls to ‘lift’ the dimensions of the internal space. Think of the converse of this scenario – the large open living area you see in industrial factory turned residential apartments. The ceilings are often dark, primarily to lower visually the ceiling height, to wrap you up more cosily in the space and secondly to allow the darker colour to ‘melt away’ the stark hard lines of its former industrial face. In rooms with awkward shaped ceilings such as an attic room the same treatment on the walls as on the ceiling will bring regularity to the different angles and harmony to the room
Contemporary settings can benefit from ceiling designs more sculptural and innovative in shape, and when combined with creative light treatment the ceiling itself becomes an inspired decorative element adding interest and style to your home.
Let your imagination guide you – the sky’s the limit.
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