Don’t Forget to Look Up

Written by Milan Jara on 3rd Aug 2011

I’m not sure if it’s a blessing or a curse, but as someone who has spent many years in the construction industry — I sometimes notice items the average person might walk by. Not that long ago I was visiting a friend who has a business located near the historical section of a city in Virginia. As I was walking inside, I stopped to admire the job his neighbor had done in scraping and repainting the old clapboard siding of the home next door. I know how difficult that type of project can be — it takes a lot of time and hard work to do it right.

The neighbor had even taken the extra effort to color match the paint to a small addition in the rear that had modern vinyl siding installed. I was pretty impressed with the final product and mentioned it to my friend who walked past that same home every day as he opened his business. His reply was that he had never noticed, but when I saw him several weeks later — he told me that when he took a moment to really look at his neighbor’s house — he could immediately see what I was talking about.

Tray Coffered Ceiling

I had the same type of revelation when I was a commercial construction project manager many years ago. Up until that time, when I ate in a restaurant, I looked at my plate, the table, and sometimes the items hanging on the walls, but that was pretty much the extent of my interest in the decors. One of my first commercial projects was an upscale restaurant that the owner had stipulated he would furnish some of the finish materials. When it came time to do the restaurant ceiling, he showed up with box after box of tin ceiling tiles that he had been storing in his barn and hoping to have an opportunity to use.

Coffered Tin Ceiling

The decorative ceiling tiles were beautiful, but to my uneducated eye it seemed a waste to use them on a restaurant ceiling — after all, who looks up when they’re eating? When I mentioned my thoughts to the owner, he said that I might be surprised. I learned a valuable lesson as I completed that project — those decorative ceiling tiles tied the decors of the restaurant together and were one of the first things customers noticed when they entered.

To this day I always look up when I walk to my table in a restaurant and I do the same when I enter a home — in some cases there’s just a plain sheetrock or dropped ceiling finish, but every once in a while I’m rewarded with decorative ceiling tiles, beams, coffers, or another exciting finish that can bring a room to life. Look up — you might be amazed at what you’ll see.

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