The easiest thing to do with a ceiling is to paint it white and forget it, and in most instances that’s the best policy, too. But, when a room needs more than emptiness overhead, you want a ceiling to star in its own right. Accenting a ceiling with paint can make a high ceiling seem lower, a dull room brighter. On the other hand, paint’s power can be easily misused, especially on ceilings. Before you rush off to a paint store, consider these important principles, then choose your colors accordingly.
• Dark, intense colors work only on unusually high ceilings of 10 feet or more. On lower ceilings deep tones absorb too much light, making a room dim and oppressive.
• A vivid color can wake up a room, but it can also be over-powering. Proceed carefully paying attention to the décor in the rest of the room. A rich melon color works for this ceiling, because it doesn’t compete with neutral tones of the upholstery, tables, and floor.
• Light pastels such as sky blue or sunny yellow can raise a ceiling, especially if the walls are painted a deeper shade of the same color.
• Even bright, pure white can be tricky in a room with colored walls because it will pick up a reflection of the wall colors. If reflections bother you, paint the ceiling off-white.
If your home has beamed ceilings, by all means play up these architectural assets. If it doesn’t and you wish it did, you have two choices, add them, or pull down the existing ceiling and expose the structural members.
If you’re thinking about adding beams, you may wonder how you’re going to get big heavy timbers up to the ceiling, and keep them there. The answer is that false beams don’t have to support anything. They only need to look massive, and they should, in fact, be as light as possible. Box beams are easier to add, but even comfortable to work with are light weight urethane foam beams. Cut them to length with a knife and glue them to the ceiling.
If you are determined to show off beams covered with plaster or other material, prepare for a messy job. Clear all furnishings from the room and protect the floor with canvas drop cloths. Wearing a hard hat, goggles, and heavy gloves, begin pulling down the ceiling with a wrecking bar. You’ll probably find that the ceiling comes down fairly easily, but hauling away the debris is heavy, and time-consuming labor.
Beams that have been hidden for long are usually filthy. Scrub them with a strong detergent. (If you prefer a lighter tone, add bleach.) Seal with a coat of matte-finish polyurethane. This is how you can make your ceilings special.