Question: We are building a house, and I don't want to do anything too trendy or overly designed, but I do want it to be special. You always have such interesting ceilings. Can you describe the styles so we better understand what they are?
Phoebe's Answer: We don't like leaving decorating opportunities on the table, and ceilings are certainly often overlooked. My husband Jim is great at designing architectural ceilings. He recently gave some answers to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about this, and I think it answers your question perfectly. Here's more from Jim:
- Are ceilings more or less important than the walls and floors? A
room has six planes – four walls, a floor and a ceiling. Depending on what is
in the room, you have to decide what you want to emphasize. People usually
emphasize the floor, but it is often the least important. Ceilings and walls
have more importance because it is where the eye lands. So ceilings are just as
important but not important. All planes should be considered.
- I don't see any ceiling trends worth noting. There is a thing called using the 1.6:1 ratio. The more a room widens and lengthens, the more the ceiling should push up mathematically and proportionately. This is always true, so trends don’t really apply.
- Are there ceilings that work in every room / every house, no matter what the style? No, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits all ceiling. Each house its own language and each space has it own requirements.
- Do you prefer to see a certain ceiling height? No, again, it is all about scale and proportion. Length to width to height is a mathematical formula that you should always use and it always works.
- What else should homeowners think about when remodeling? Look up. Sometimes the ceiling can be the perfect thing to do in a room. There are so many things to consider for the ceiling – trim, paint color, lacquer finish, wallpaper or tea paper. With so many options, it is just important to be open minded.
This ceiling has beams and purlins, and we put them close together like this to imply structure and detail.
This is a beach house and the ceiling was designed to complement the great bed. It is a tray ceiling with a projecting scotia cornice around the perimeter to give the ceiling height. The boards all run toward the middle to make the ceiling feel taller.
This bedroom is more Baltic. It has undulating forms that are romantic. It is painterly and decorative,
with a Swedish feel.
This is a modified tray ceiling with a cornice that acts as a sincture, which divides the room horizontally and gives the room a human scale. It also gives the room intimacy as well as enormous scale, which works well for a room this long and wide. There is a cap on it painted a lighter color to make the ceiling feel more infinite.
This is a ceiling modeled after a cotton house in Mustique. The wood resembles sea-worn cypress, and then we limed it to give it a worn feeling. When the walls are light with a ceiling treated like this, it gives the room warmth and coziness.
Here are a few more examples of interesting ceilings: