Don’t Forget The Fifth Wall: Ceiling Treatments

Written by Milan Jara on 17th Jul 2011

Some say a home is never really finished. You can always transform it with a fresh coat of paint, a new piece of artwork above the mantel and a new furniture arrangement. What most people don’t realize is that adding drama and depth to a home can be as easy as looking up.

Floors and walls shouldn’t garner all the attention. Sure, you can tear out carpet and lay hardwood, or add a coat of paint and accessories to a wall, but it’s not until the ceiling of a room is taken into consideration that you can really create a complete atmosphere.

Many people may ignore their ceilings on purpose and for a variety of reasons: “It’s too difficult to access.” “It’s okay white.” “What in the world would I do up there?” “No one looks up.”

In truth, the ceiling is no different than any other wall in the home. It visually flows into the vertical walls, and it mirrors the horizontal lines of the floors. To ignore it is to ignore the crowing piece of every room.

Whether you’re faced with standard eight-foot flat ceilings or a mix of heights and angles, there is a ceiling treatment that’s right for you. Ceiling treatments can create movement from room to room, define an expansive space and add dimension to a cozy nook.

This East Hampton bathroom was boring and presented a problem to House Beautiful contributing editor Frances Schultz with the awkward angles of the ceiling and recessed window.

HBX Cottage Bathroom

Schultz’s answer was to actually accentuate the ceiling with stripes.

Modern HBX Cottage Bathroom

Now, the ceiling drives the eyes upward, visually increasing the overall space and adding a dramatic touch to the small space.

It’s difficult to imagine what this room would like look without the integrated ceiling design, lending the perfect degree of opulence to the elegant furnishings. Nashville, Tennessee, interior designer Beth Haley reminds homeowners, “When designing spaces, think of the entire room three-dimensionally. If left untreated or ignored, then the emphasis will be on the ceiling. It will become the big white elephant. The ceiling should be the icing on the cake.”

Ceiling Design

Ceiling treatments can also add a light-hearted touch to a room, such as this modern basement designed by Ann Murdoch. Here, Metallaire hammered border tiles were custom painted and placed to enhance the architectural details of the existing beams.

Metallaire Hammered Border Tiles

Combining beams and ceiling tiles again, this home office is quite stately with its use of faux-painted mineral-fiberboard Tin Look ceiling tiles.

Faux Painted Tin Look Ceiling Tiles

This kitchen, featured in The Old House magazine offers an authentic tin ceiling design with its mix of panels, cornices and hammered fillers. The antique-reminiscent ceiling is a perfect contrast to the country chic kitchen design.

Antique Reminiscent Ceiling

In this photo by Jack Thompson, the anatomy of the tin ceiling design in illustrated. The field panels are the large squares that cover the center of the ceiling, while the filler create a low-profile border and the cornice mark the transition from the ceiling to wall. Combining these pieces help to create a compelling ceiling design and a true work of art.

Tin Ceiling Design

There’s no reason now to be intimidated by your white, plain ceiling. With the expansive selection of ceiling treatments, the possibilities are truly endless to customize each room in your house. When you take the time to focus on your fifth wall, you’ll be amazed how your home comes together.

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