When it comes to decorating your home, be sure you’re not neglecting the space above it all. Some interior designers and home builders believe a home is in a “state of undress” if the ceilings aren’t making a subtle, bold, dramatic or creative statement.
“Ceilings can bring a uniqueness to a home,” says Marty Weck, owner of Weck Design LLC in Flowery Branch. That distinctiveness can manifest itself through color, artwork, wall coverings, medallions, bead board, trusses, wood structures, texture and other endless possibilities.
According to Daniel Dionne, owner of Daniel Dionne Designs LLC in Decatur, www.danieldionnedesigns.com, there tends to be more focus lately on ceilings. “Builders and consumers alike have become very style savvy these days, so the increased attention to [ceilings], and the addition of architectural details like elaborate moldings and coffered ceilings, have become a benchmark for quality. It makes sense to draw attention to these features and maximize their design impact.”
Jennifer Reynolds, owner of Jennifer Reynolds Interiors in Atlanta, www.jenniferreynoldsinteriors.com, agrees. She adds that she is noticing more coffered ceilings, beautiful beam work and custom millwork detail overhead. “Lately I’m seeing a lot of intricate plaster molded elements. I’ve even seen a Greek key trim feature and an emerald green faux leather treatment. In my opinion, a treated ceiling creates that wow factor—that extra layer of detail that a lot of homes just don’t have.”
Add the unexpected
Dionne points out that many builders and decorators focus on common areas, such as living and dining rooms and foyers and family rooms, when enhancing their ceilings. Project Shimmer, as Dionne affectionately calls one of his dining room decorating undertakings, involved putting a metal flake metallic wall covering on the ceiling. He also added three ceiling medallions across the length of the room, hanging two chandeliers with swags connecting to the center medallion to create a dramatic effect. “The lighting reflecting off of the metallic ceiling creates the softest shimmer of light you can imagine,” he says. “It is glamorous.”
Dionne points out that homeowners and decorators need to realize that the placement of overhead and sconce lighting dramatically affects the color and textures of the rooms’ walls and ceilings.
“Many master bedrooms have tray ceilings,” says Dionne. “Their depth and multiple layers are fun to play with and easy to enrich with paint, wall coverings, recessed lighting, stencils or murals. Master suites can be great places to enhance architectural features and lighting.” Weck agrees, saying that lighting can be a revealing addition to a ceiling. He took the lighting a step further by adding recessed LED lighting that changes colors to one of his master bedroom tray ceiling projects. “It gives that room a uniquely lit ambience.”
Over the top
Patricia L. Brown of Keiffer Phillips-Patricia Brown Builders Inc. in Atlanta, www.keifferphillips.com, talks about one of their most unusual projects. “We created a domed tray above a client’s bed that was inset by hand with optic fibers. The dome was painted to look like the sky, and the owner had the lights configured to display his favorite constellations.” Now, that is an over-the-top project—literally.
Medallions and artwork can add a decorative and unexpected touch overhead, says Ann Wisniewski, CEO of AJW Designs Inc. in Atlanta and Roswell, www.ajwdesignsinc.com. Is there a rule for using medallions? “If you have elaborate molding in the rest of the room, the ceiling calls for a medallion,” Dionne says. “That’s the decorating rule according to Dan.”
Ceilings can be funky or formal. Consider hiring a decorative artist to add a creative mural or imaginative touch to one of your rooms. Don’t be afraid to use new or unusual materials such as three-dimensional embossed wall coverings, tin tiles, beams, bead board or faux finishes. Reynolds says she recently installed an antique mirrored ceiling in a powder room that made that room look, in her words, “fabulous.”
Staying under budget
Dionne notes that even homeowners with a limited budget can use crown molding and paint to give a room an updated decorator look. “The most affordable way to enhance your ceiling is to add some color.” He suggests painting the ceiling a shade or two lighter or darker than the walls to add unity and a sense of warmth. Is there a rule on ceiling height and whether to use lighter or darker colors? “It depends on the decorator you ask,” says Dionne. “In my opinion, there is no rule. Just like everything else in design; it is very subjective.”
Reynolds adds that paint can be used on ceilings in so many ways from stripes to patterns. “Adding a thin line following the ceiling’s perimeter is a nice touch. The sky is the limit with paint.”
Something for everyone
Although attention to ceilings is usually in the common areas of the home, teens and children love having artsy and funky touches on their walls and ceilings as well. They often delight in choosing their colors and themes.
Marty Mason, owner of Merge Home and Savvy Snoot in Atlanta, www.mergehome.com, says he recently stenciled metallic stars on a teen’s purple ceiling. Bright pops of color, solar systems and geometric wall coverings are popular above the heads of young people, according to principal designer Joann Kandrac of Kandrac & Kole Interior Designs Inc. in Kennesaw,www.kandrac-kole.com. Murals on the wall or ceiling can create what Dionne calls trompe-l’œil or “trick of the eye.” Kids love it!
Words of advice
As with any remodeling or decorating project, Mason points out, you may want to keep your ideas clean and simple if you are planning to sell your home in the near future. While architectural interest and inventive decorating can add value to your home, you should remember that value is perceived in different ways, Dionne says. “Although an innovative ceiling treatment may be appealing to the homeowner, that doesn’t mean that other people will like it or even understand it,” he says.
Also, if you are contemplating a major ceiling project, be aware that it could be expensive. According to Kandrac, the structure of ceilings and their adornments can be labor intensive, and some materials and treatments can be quite pricey.
When making a change overhead, the options for ceiling treatments are virtually unlimited. Do your homework, gather ideas and prices and bring a new look to your living space. The sky’s the limit.
Count the Ways
Perhaps it’s time to train your gaze upward when you enter homes and even businesses. What you see overhead may intrigue and inspire you to make some changes. Here are just a few of the neat things you can do to transform your ceiling:
Paint. Nothing is less expensive and more easily changed than paint. Paint can be matte, shiny, flat, glazed, bold and bright, or subtle and serene.
Wall coverings aren’t just for walls anymore. Try metallic, embossed, textured and patterned wall coverings overhead.
Coffered ceilings make a dimensional statement. These are boxed beams dividing the ceiling into a grid with flat panels between them. These grids can be square or rectangle depending on the room.
Medallions can highlight a room’s ornate or ordinary light fixture. Stacking medallions can create a dimensional effect.
Bead board can add cottage charm to bedroom, kitchen or porch ceilings.
Rustic, steel or wooden exposed beams add character to ceilings.
Wide or stacked crown moldings add detail overhead.
Add a tray ceiling and accent the trays with paint or lighting.
Add an artsy touch with murals, stencils or faux finishes.
Source: Daniel Dionne, Owner, Daniel Dionne Designs LLC, www.danieldionnedesigns.com.