No Ceiling on Creativity

No Ceiling on Creativity


Eager to infuse some excitement in a room but want to think outside the box? Give thought to the top of that box, better known as the “fifth wall” – your ceiling. You can make a creative statement that earns the envy of every visitor by contemplating the space right above your head, say the pros.

“Many people believe that artwork on your walls as well as furniture and décor accomplish much of the designing and decorating heavy lifting in your home. They often view ceilings merely as utilitarian spaces that function only to support overhead fixtures,” says Christine Villanueva, interior design expert with LuxeDecor in Chicago. “But decorating a ceiling offers a way to create a truly special design moment, personalize a living area, and possibly even create the illusion of a higher ceiling to make a room feel more spacious.”

Bobbi Jo Engelby, owner/lead designer at Charleston, S.C.-based Domain Interiors and Design, says homeowners are inclined to design at eye level within a given room.

“However, you can make a ceiling the focal point of a room without necessarily spending a fortune,” says Engelby. “Even a different shade of paint on the ceiling can completely change the vibe and lighting of a room.”

Enhancing a room’s ceiling can do more than potentially increase your home’s resale value.

“It can give a room depth, character and balance,” says Leigh Spicher, national director of Design Studios for Atlanta-headquartered homebuilder Ashton Woods, who adds that foyers, dining rooms, living/family rooms, master bedrooms and bathrooms can particularly benefit from ceiling treatments.

Here are five worthy suggestions to enhance ceilings in your home:

1. Skip the white and opt for cool hues. “I like painted ceilings that are cooler in visual temperature than the surrounding walls, which adds a color interest to the room without making it feel enclosed,” Charmaine Wynter, design expert with Charmaine Wynter Interiors in Southlake, Texas, says. “Bedrooms, for example, often look best with a blue or grey ceiling, while dining rooms with high ceilings are awesome in pink or coral.”

2. Add wallpaper. “A wallpapered ceiling adds just the right modern touch in a room and is perfect for difficult ceiling styles, such as rooms with shed or coffered ceilings,” says Villanueva. “If your wall space already feels too cramped, top off your ceiling with a bold wallpaper color or print to add major interest to the space without overwhelming the overall design of the room. And try using geometric patterns for major design points.”

3. Think instant fix with a unique lighting fixture. A carefully chosen fixture like a classic chandelier with black or caged crystals can add light and life to important first impression spaces like an entry or dining room. Customized fixtures often earns extra kudos from guests, too. “Investing in a locally crafted lighting fixture can give you not only a beautiful piece but a great story to tell,” Engelby says. “I’ve recently partnered with area artists who hand-paint unique designs onto the fixture’s light shade, which work beautifully in a dining room, powder room or music room.”

4. Delve into deco. Also called “art deco,” this 1920s-influenced style employs curvilinear shapes, geometric patterns, bold hues and sharply delineated edges to make a design statement. Deco panels or tiles are available in faux metallic materials and colors, like cracked copper, crosshatch silver and brushed aluminum, and deco-themed fixtures like pendants and flush mount lights are plentiful, too. “Deco conveys high-style city living better than most designs, even though it’s almost a hundred years old,” says Jorge Simes, principal with Chicago-headquartered Simes Studios.

5. Go for broke with a hand-sculpted plaster design. An experienced craftsman can fashion an ornate and detailed design across all or a portion of your ceiling, complete with floral motifs or symmetrical patterns that will be the talk of your neighborhood. “I’ve used local artists to hand sculpt designs to frame a lighting fixture on a ceiling,” says Engelby.

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