Let your rooms get some style from above


Inspiration, it's said, comes from above. So maybe it's time to take a good, long look at the ceiling.

If new lighting apparatus such as high-hats or track lighting has given your ceiling a Swiss cheese appearance, then you're probably not going to get many magical ideas. But if the surface is smooth and especially if the ceiling happens to be higher than average, then it might be possible to add some embellishments.

Ceilings have for centuries received the attention of decorators and architects who understood that the top part of a room is integral to the overall design. In order for a room to be truly finished, the ceiling must be given some sort of treatment. That can range from plain white paint to plaster relief to a coffered, domed or beamed effect. The only truly unacceptable option is to ignore the ceiling altogether.

One of the more common undertakings is to attempt to make a low ceiling appear higher. (Incidentally, today's standard 8-foot ceiling is too low, in my estimation.) If it's possible to raise the center of such a ceiling even slightly, the resulting tray-like effect often very effective in creating a sense of greater spaciousness.

Our present passion for faux finishes and trompe l'oeil painting has introduced the open-sky ceiling as a decorative element. A skilled decorative painter can open up your room to sunshine or create a romantic mood for a nighttime entertainment.

A most interesting ceiling effect is achieved by using plaster decorations painted all one color. A light color works best because it allows the relief of the plaster work to create its own pattern and delicate shadows. But ceiling plasterers are not easy to find.

A word of caution: Not all rooms can support a decorative ceiling. Why not give the ceiling a chance anyway and treat it as part of the room? Consider its color, shape and texture as part of the total design of the space.

+ Los Angeles Times Syndicate

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