The High Life: Creative Ceilings Can Take Rooms To New Heights


Get creative on ceilings with decorative strategies to make it a center of attention. Options range from architectural elements and millwork to paint and wall coverings. (Image: S.R. Gambrel)

Homeowners spend hours deciding what to do with their floors and walls, forgetting one of the biggest game-changers we have in our arsenal as luxury interior designers: the statement ceiling. Getting creative with ceilings can have a powerful and transformative impact on a space. By using the right decorative strategy, it becomes an expressive element that changes the way space looks, feels and lives—figuratively and literally from the top down.


A flat, round ceiling in a contemporary high-rise gets star treatment with millwork, architectural elements, recessed lighting and a spectacular chandelier. (Image: Jessica Lagrange Interiors)

Giving the “fifth wall” its decorative just due isn’t new news, but creative ceilings have been in the spotlight this year. Saves for “statement ceilings” were up 310% in 2017 in the Pinterest 100, a yearend report that uses pins to predict impending trends for the coming year. Pinterest was on target: Realtor Magazine quoted us in their recent article on stunning ceilings. So we thought it would be a good time to focus on our top three strategies for turning unassuming ceilings into game changers.

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Bold, bright hues add drama and warmth to a room while glossy finishes reflect light and make ceilings seem higher. (Images, l to r: Veranda and S.R. Gambrel)

Give it a great paint job: Painting it is fast, easy and cost effective, but choosing which hue (or hues) to use—let alone what kind of finish—is not! Even we agonize over these decisions at times, and we’re trained interior designers. Generally, bright, light hues make a ceiling seem higher; dark hues give a room intimacy and warmth; bold or unexpected hues add an edge—from fresh or kicky to playful or racy; and several hues used together (to differentiate moldings and coffers or more) reinforce specific styles. Flat or matte paints hide imperfections, but high gloss or lacquered finishes have mirror-like properties that can reflect and heighten light to give a room an entirely new demeanor or correct decorative deficits (such as low ceilings or a lack of natural light).

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Wallpapers aren’t for walls alone; the work equally well on ceilings to add decorative intrigue to a space—and are especially effective when wall space is limited. (Images l to r: TheMakerista and CasaDecor)

Cover it with a spectacular wallpaper: In truth, wallpapers are made of so many different materials today (from micro-slices of wood veneer and ground stone to feathers, fibers and beads) that many versions aren’t actually wallpaper. But whatever goes on walls can go on ceilings, even those with curves. Best of all, the options are endless. Patterned wallpapers can pull together a room’s color palette; metallics can add luxury, radiance and drama; textured options can give spaces warmth or a specific decorative aesthetic; and more. An added bonus is the fact that wall coverings can be used to hide a ceiling’s imperfections or introduce pattern in rooms where all the walls are taken—such as a kitchen or family area with copious cabinetry—or needed for art.


From l to r: Architectural elements can define activity areas in an open-plan room, add drama to a small space or enhance a specific style in a contemporary space. (Images: Jessica Lagrange Interiors)

Add gravitas architectural elements: Crown molding, ceiling trims, ornamental plaster flourishes (from medallions to scrolls), paneling, clapboard, beams, mirrors and more can work wonders in a room. In traditional spaces, we use them to turn plain ceilings into architectural gems that embrace specific styles such as Federal, Georgian, Queen Anne, country, beaux-arts and more. In modern and contemporary spaces, especially those that have open floor plans, beams and trims can define different activity areas in a space. Bottom line, whether it’s for decorative purposes or to correct a room’s shortfalls, it pays to give plain Jane ceilings star treatment and make them the center of attention in a space.

07 Nov 2018

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