For decades, the ceiling has been the most neglected zone of the home when it comes to interior design. Most homeowners scrape their ceilings flat and paint them matte white in the hopes that their ceilings will be fully ignored by visitors and guests — but that has not always been the case.
Photo by Steven Ungermann on Unsplash
In the past, architects and interior designers used ceilings as canvases for outstanding works of art, applying paint, plaster, wood and molding to make intricate designs and gorgeous images. As interior trends swing rapidly away from neutrals and embrace maximalism, many designers are considering how they can call attention to their interesting and unique ceilings.
Paint a Solid Color
Compared to other options on this list, painting ceilings in a color other than white is a relatively conservative option. Still, adding color to a ceiling can radically shift the feeling of a room, especially if a designer chooses colors far from the neutral spectrum. Painting is a beginner-friendly option for homeowners who aren’t sure if they want to invest in more extensive ceiling décor, and it is easy to apply paint around fixtures like lights and ceiling fans. The best tips for choosing a ceiling color include pulling a color from wallpaper or making the ceiling an accent feature by contrasting the wall color.
Add High Gloss
Most ceilings are covered in a layer of matte paint, which does not attract the viewer’s eye. Designers looking to draw attention to the ceiling might opt for a high-gloss paint, which will create more shine that can enhance lighting to brighten up a dark space. To enhance this effect, designers might install a stretch ceiling, which is a solid piece of reflective material, usually PVC or plastic, that is placed on top of the existing ceiling. With a stretch ceiling, designers can achieve a mirrored finish, which is dazzling without being flamboyant.
Paint a Mural
Taking inspiration from some of the most intricate ceilings in the world, designers might opt for a painted mural on their ceiling. Anything that can be painted on a wall or canvas can also appear on a ceiling, and because ceilings are not obstructed by framed art, shelves or furniture, they make for the perfect space in a home for a mural. Creative designers can paint simple murals themselves, or designers can hire mural artists to finish the ceilings with amazing artwork. Some popular murals for ceilings include cloudy sunsets, starry night skies, colorful marble effects and colorful fruit patterns.
Paneling provides texture and dimension to the flat planes of an interior space. Wood paneling applied to the ceiling can also add warmth to a room, and the addition of wooden beams as well as paneling can give a space a greater sense of dignity. However, it is worth noting that paneling can be expensive — and trying to cut costs with low-quality paneling is not advisable, as it is more likely to age poorly. In truth, designers should only choose paneling if they can afford high-quality paneling supplies and installation.
Molding is another method of ceiling ornamentation that has been in use for centuries. As the Sistine Chapel is to ceiling murals, the Royal Palace in Brussels is to ceiling molding; it demonstrates that ceiling moldings can create undeniable beauty and grandeur when properly applied. However, designers must consider the height of their ceilings before they commit to incredibly large and intricate moldings, as dense moldings can make small rooms feel even smaller.
Install Ceiling Tiles
Ceiling tiles are often used in lieu of drywall, plaster or wood paneling. Though many designers might imagine the ugly (and heavy) ceiling tiles used in public and commercial buildings, the truth is that ceiling tiles can come in diverse sizes and styles, and many are molded to create beautiful patterns across a ceiling. What’s more, ceiling tiles tend to be much easier to replace than other ceiling materials, so designers can swap out different tile designs when they need to refresh their space.
Build Architectural Interest
A much more invasive method of bringing heightened design to ceilings is changing the ceiling’s architecture. Architectural elements like tray ceilings and coffered ceilings create character in the home, and they make it more rewarding to highlight the beauty of the ceiling with colored paint and moldings. Designers might work with architects to determine what kind of visual interest they can permanently add to their ceilings.