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Don’t Forget The Ceiling


A forgotten ceiling is a missed opportunity to make any room magnificent.   When it comes to home décor, ceilings are quite literally the white elephant in the room.  Hovering above the other surfaces they are often left ignored or given the disrespect of  “just paint it white.”  Even decorators (the lazy ones) ignore them.  Consider the ceiling the fifth wallPhotography by Mary E. Nichols via Architectural Digest.

Try to imagine this room with a white ceiling, it would feel completely different.   Carleton Varney’s masterful treatment of the ceiling allows this dining room to feel lifted and gracious.

We have all seen the all-too-common everyday error: colorful walls with a stark white or ivory ceiling.  Eeeek!!  It draws the eye up to the big boring billboard of builder’s white someone forgot about.  This subliminal pull on the eye for attention also causes the inhabitants of the room to feel un-settled.  So if you desire a comfortable home, please don’t forget about the ceiling. Here the same room is created with Sherwin Williams Color Visualizer.  Adding color on the ceiling enhances the comfort of the room.

There are only three reasons a ceiling is pure white or ivory in a room with four colorful walls:

  1. Ran out of paint.
  2. Ran out of money.
  3. Doesn’t care.

Here are Five Ceiling Options for a wonderful room:

Five walls one decision -paint or wallpaper walls and ceiling in the same color or pattern.  This gives the room a cozy feel and can blend away corners and lines in a small room.  Wrapping the whole room in one color can make the walls and ceiling a wonderful background for more important items like furnishings or artwork.

Light ceilings are fine, but rarely plain ceiling white or ivory.  To avoid the stark forgotten look of a white ceiling mix 5-10% of the wall color into white ceiling paint.  After mixed, the color appears like a lot of color in the can but on the ceiling it is almost a soft creme.  Contrasting color can be awesome too.Via Bradbury & Bradbury

Look to the past – the ceiling often got equal treatment.  Victorians understood embellishment and often wallpapered their ceilings.  Wallpaper on the ceiling is a great way to add interest to a large flat surface.Architectural details like those in a historic, timber-frame or craftsman style home are interesting to look at when they are appropriate for the architecture of the house.  Not so much when they are phony.  Once can create architectural interest on ceilings with moldings.   This works especially well in rooms with tallish ceilings which you want to visually lower for comfort.

Reflective ceilings can be soft and dramatic.  Interior designers have employed the magic of metallic ceilings for years.  The famous designer Albert Hadley‘s living room in his own apartment is well known for it’s beautiful shimmering ceiling.  Dining room, entrance hall and powder room ceilings are superb locations for a reflective ceiling treatment.

The ceiling is an integral part of the decor for any room.  It can tie the whole design together, be a focal point, add architectural interest, or at the very least be one more surface to treat.   Do something with the ceiling so it doesn’t look like a forgotten mistake.

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5 Responses to Don’t Forget The Ceiling

  1. Vicki

    OMG now I get it. My sister has this deep green room and a white ceiling. It does look like she forgot. She’s sitting next to me so she is okay with me saying that. Now we have to find a paint color. Her floors are dark wood and furniture is neutral taupe. She does have 9 ft ceilings – buy you still stare up at it. Thanks for setting us straight.

  2. Oh I started reading your note… great now I will cause family upsets. Thank you for saying your sister was sitting right there. Whew. Sometimes it is as easy as taking just a couple of shades lighter than the wall color. Depends on the room. If it is a room meant to view as opposed to a room for focus (TV room) sometimes the lighter ceiling feels better. Good luck. Send before and after pics if you like.

  3. Ron Tedwater

    Really nice post,thank you

  4. pretty helpful material, overall I consider this is well worth a bookmark, thanks

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