The ceiling is often neglected in interior design. But here at The Red Shutters, we like to treat it as the fifth wall. Although the ceiling is a large area – it’s as big as the floor – homeowners typically fail to consider it when designing a room. But giving the ceiling some attention can make a HUGE impact on the overall feel of a space. As we like to say, “Always Look Up!”
“Most clients never think of incorporating the ceiling into the room’s design,” says Marina Case, The Red Shutters’ principal designer. “When we do, they are just in shock at the results. It creates the perfect unexpected reaction as you enter a room.”
Some of the most incredible churches, castles, palaces, and estates have incorporated ceilings into their overall design. We think those architectural and design elements should be brought into our own spaces to enjoy every day. Spending so much time in our homes, we should feel happy and enveloped in an inviting atmosphere – and a ceiling treatment can evoke a well of emotions from cozy and comfortable to light and airy.
“I believe you can dress up a ceiling in any room – provided the room doesn’t already have a lot going on, such as multiple focal points,” says Marina. “But be careful that you don’t go overboard by utilizing treatments from room to room, which can result in overwhelm.”
Below are some ceiling ideas that will bring another layer to your interior design.
A coat of paint is a simple way to make a ceiling pop, like this gold ceiling in a powder room we designed for The Old Stone House Inn & Restaurant. While this definitely makes a bold statement, our top ceiling paint color choice for many clients is blue. We love how the right light blue hue imbues the feeling of being outdoors. It’s like the sky is meeting you outside.
Another popular trend right now is using a high gloss sheen on the ceiling. The result is simply amazing. It adds a whole reflective aspect brightening a space while the glossy surface tricks the eye into making the room feel larger. A lacquered ceiling adds even more drama; however, you can’t live in the house at the time because it takes so many coats of paint along with sanding in between coats, and while the wow is definitely worth it, the price point is higher because of the labor involved in achieving the look.
A fresh take on wallpaper is to apply it to the ceiling. It adds a whole other dimension to a space. “Papering the ceiling in a small room creates an incredible jewel box effect that just completes the space, taking it to a whole other level,” says Marina. From patterns to prints, traditional to modern, wallpaper can instantly punch up a room.
“Wallpaper installers don’t like papering the ceiling because of the extra work involved,” reveals Marina, “But it’s striking when it’s done and so worth it. I especially love to use wallpaper on the angled ceilings you’ll find in Cape Cod homes. It just changes the room when you have all the angles and you cover the ceiling.”
The bathroom is the perfect place to take your design on up to the ceiling. Doing so is not only stylish, but also extremely practical. Tiling the ceiling makes the room appear larger. Plus, it helps protect against mold and mildew and makes cleaning much easier.
“When I tile the ceiling of a bathroom, I like to change the direction of the tile,” says Marina. “For example, if the shower wall tiles are placed in a linear direction, I like to use a herringbone pattern on the ceiling to add more interest.”
Woodwork adds a ton of dimension to a ceiling. Whether minimal or intricate, coffered ceilings completely transform the fifth wall into a work of art. Painting a contrasting color within each sunken panel makes the surrounding trim pop, boosting the overall visual interest of the room. Beadboard is another great ceiling option, particularly popular in beach and country houses found in New England and the Hudson Valley. And mixing the two produces a strong impact. “For a kitchen in a home on Cape Cod, I combined beadboard and a coffered ceiling for a stunning tone-on-tone look,” advised Marina.
Exposed ceiling beams can make an ordinary room look extraordinary. Tip: the beams don’t have to be structural. Decorative beams create the same effect. Beams draw the eye up toward the ceiling making the space feel larger. They also add texture and dimension. While beams may traditionally be associated with living and dining rooms, we use them in all rooms of a home, including the bathroom! No matter the room, rough, natural wood beams against white walls and ceiling have a simple, yet dramatic, effect. For a recent project on Martha’s Vineyard, we ran a lot of beams and then plastered in between the beams about 18 inches apart. This created a bright, clean look and interesting effect.