Classic ceiling treatments for your living room remodel
This living room features an updated barrel-vaulted ceiling treatment, one that complements the room's modern streamlined style. Stained laminated beams soar above the space, offering a contrast with the cabinetry's lighter tones. The gently bowed arches lend a protective, sheltered feeling to a room designed for informal gathering and relaxation.
Vaulted ceilings add volume to a space. But they can also leave a room feeling vast, cold, and open. In this room, dark wood planks visually lower a lofty ceiling, bringing a welcome warmth and more human scale to the room while contrasting with the light-color walls, upholstery fabrics, and floor coverings. For consistency, the collar ties--the large beams running across the room at wall-top height--match the ceiling.
An elegant upper-level living room gets an overhead treatment befitting its traditional style: a tray ceiling. Framed out in drywall and set off with a heavy crown molding, the ceiling contributes to this room's sense of intimacy. Additional molding applied to the ceiling surface echoes the tray's shape and frames an elaborate crystal chandelier.
Massive beams loomed heavily over this living room; the owners wanted a lighter look. They achieved it by painting the beams a clean white and the walls a warm cream. The subtle contrast in colors allows the beams to stand out and add architectural interest without darkening and dominating the feel of the room. A skylight further brightens the space.
Traditionally, adobe structures in the American Southwest featured open ceiling beams, called vigas, made from peeled tree trunks. The natural wood tones and rich texture of these beams contrasts with the smooth white plaster walls for a comfortable, made-from-the-earth feeling that continues to influence Southwestern interior design.
If you're seeking to pump up the design of a plain room, look up: The ceiling is a great place to start. Ceiling beams make an impact, but many home's structural elements can't support the weight of solid wood beams. Instead, use boxed beams: hollow structures that have all of the visual impact of solid beams with a fraction of the weight. Here, they're used to create a vintage-look coffered ceiling.
This loft apartment was originally a warehouse. Heavy ceiling beams were required to support the weight of the floor above. Now, they add vintage warmth and charm to the formerly industrial space. The beams were sandblasted to remove decades of paint and grime and left unfinished, exposing the wood's rich texture, grain, and color variations.
Wallpaper borders commonly run around the top edge of the walls in a room to add interest and visually lower a high ceiling for a more intimate feel. Running the border on the ceiling near where it meets the wall has the opposite effect--making the walls appear taller and the ceiling higher. Here, the ceiling outside the wallpaper border is painted the same color as the walls, magnifying the effect.
This house used an old post-and-beam barn frame as the basis for its structure. Rather than conceal the frame behind walls and ceiling, the owners chose to place those finished surfaces on the outside of the frame, making the hand-hewn structure the primary element in the interior design. Crisp white ceilings contrast with the warm hand-tooled wood.
One of the delights of adapting industrial buildings to living spaces is the opportunity to incorporate unusual architectural elements and materials into elegant interior design schemes. This room makes the most of its original barrel-vaulted brick ceiling by adding elaborate coffers to the masonry detail, then mimicking the ceiling's graceful curve in the arch of the fireplace.
The term coffered ceiling often connotes a criss-cross of heavy ornamental beams that create a grid of deep recesses in a lofty ceiling. But you can create a similar effect on a low ceiling with much less material and trouble by applying a grid of stock moldings to the ceiling. For added contrast, paint the moldings in a color or sheen that contrasts with the ceiling's planar surfaces.
Tongue-and-groove pine roof decking and robust solid-sawn beams with black iron hardware are a hallmark of contemporary vaulted ceilings. This room makes the most of these elements by bringing in lots of natural light. The daylight reflects off the light-color furnishings and glossy floor to reveal the variegated grain and geometric structure of the roof to best advantage.
Before its remodeling, this 1905 beach house featured small windows and dark rooms. A white-painted ceiling made the most of what little natural light there was. The remodel opened the interior to daylight by adding lots of big windows. To add interest--and some contrast with the white-painted woodwork--the owners stripped the paint from the ceiling joists to reveal the wood's grain and knots, adding character to the decorating scheme.
Vaulted ceilings generally ascend to their peak in a smooth, unbroken plane. Add unexpected interest--and an additional shot of daylight--by incorporating dormer windows in a soaring, two-story living room. The upper-level windows animate the lofty space, adding a subtle sculptural quality that lifts the eye. And the light the windows admit bounces off the ceiling on the opposite side of the room, creating a soft, even light for the living space below.
Traditional roof beams are traditionally hand-hewn trees, or later, solid-sawn lumber. Recently, forest product engineers have invented "gluelam" beams. Created from many layers of flexible wood strips glued together to form robust laminated wood beams that can form curves and arches as well as straight runs, these beams have given form to architectural shapes that were difficult to impossible to create a few decades ago. This barrel-vaulted ceiling is an example; it showcases the variegated color of the laminated beam as a focal point element in this home's design.
Rustic, age-blackened ceiling beams were cleaned, stained, and sealed, giving them additional character in this great-room that combines living, dining, and kitchen functions. For contrast, and to keep the living area warm and light, the rest of the ceiling was finished in natural tongue-and-groove pine. The combination adds an interesting tracery of structure overhead, without overwhelming and darkening the decorating scheme.
In this contemporary living room addition, a wall of sliding glass patio doors and clerestory windows serves to illuminate the entire room--a fairly common practice in contemporary home design. To ensure that the daylight reaches the entire room, the homeowner's painted the ceiling's tongue-and-groove pine roof decking and its ridgepole and roof beams glossy white. The result bathes the entire space in soft, reflected daylight. The ceiling treatment also makes the most of reflected artificial light and firelight once the sun goes down.
Home design is all about creating a feeling within a living space. Here, a plaster ceiling wraps itself up to a massive ceiling beam and makes the transition from ceiling to wall in gentle curves that lend a tentlike softness to the interior. Painting the surfaces with a matte-finish, linen-white color furthers the impression of being wrapped in soft fabric rather than encased in hard plaster. Overstuffed upholstered furniture and graceful arched passageways continue the theme.
Vaulted ceilings are often associated with soaring contemporary spaces, but even the comparatively low, modestly pitched ceilings of ranch houses can take advantage of the treatment. By eliminating the suspended ceiling above this living room and adding triangular clerestory windows to the gable end, this ranch room gets a big boost in light and volume with no structural alterations. A benefit: room overhead for ceiling fans, formerly precluded by the low ceiling height.
A new trophy room with a British Colonial theme required a ceiling treatment with presence and a sense of antiquity. First, the ceiling was painted using the same aged-plaster technique used on the walls. Then, a muralist produced a custom mural design based on an antique French atlas. Heavy mahogany dentil molding frames the mural to emphasize its artistic status.