Monday, January 11, 2010

Trend Alert: Colorful Ceilings

Canadian House & Home, January 2010

There's a lot of talk in the design world about the dangers inherent in ignoring the "fifth wall", but honestly, I'd say 90% of the time a white ceiling is perfectly acceptable, even preferable. But if you're looking for some extra credit, then upping the ante by decorating your ceiling can really take your room to the next level.

This month's issue of Canadian House & Home focuses on design trends for 2010. Generally speaking, 2010 (at least as far as H&H is concerned) looks much the same as 2009, which is unsurprising since design trends tend to evolve at a slower pace than fashion. One of H&H's big trends though for this upcoming year is wallpapered ceilings and I think I really like the idea, especially if your house has high ceilings or you're looking to create architectural interest where there is none. Not only is wallpapering just the ceiling more cost-effective than doing the walls, but I find it more appealing than the single accent wall (which often just looks unfinished, in my opinion). To avoid visually shrinking your room, I'd stick with lighter colors or metallics. And, to keep the edges crisp and to visually frame the pattern, I'd recommend doing this in a room with crown molding.

domino, November 2008

But of course for every "rule" in design, there's inevitably a great exception. I'm not sure if the yellow and white stripes are done using paint or wallpaper, but I love the effect they create in Jenna Lyons' nursery (crown molding or no). I'm also struck how this room, despite being several years old now, feels incredibly current, but then again I'd argue that Jenna's home was incredibly trendsetting, from its black walls, judicious use of yellow (2009's "it" color) and cool grays, to its decorative ceiling.

Meg Braff

While I'm not a big fan of paneled walls, I love the look of natural wood on a ceiling. In this Palm Beach sun room designed by Meg Braff the look is mimicked with faux painting and I love the laid back, island effect. It brings some age to what is probably a brand new home.

Stephen Shubel

I've noticed an increasing movement towards painting the ceiling the same color as the walls. Generally, I'm not a huge fan of this as I find the effect a bit claustrophobic, but I do think this works well in bedrooms or media rooms as these are two rooms where the cocoon-effect can be a positive rather than a negative.

Brown Design

In this den, Ryan Brown paints the ceiling in the same soft sage green as carpet, and I think it's a great way to bring in more color while still keeping your four walls neutral (here, Ryan lined the walls in grass cloth). And I just have to mention again how much I adore those built-ins. Pure perfection.

Jeffers Design

While not for the faint of heart, designers will sometimes extend the pattern on the walls up to the ceilings. While this has a similar effect to painting the ceiling the same color as the walls as the boundaries between wall and ceiling visually disappear, it's obviously going to pack a much bigger (and bolder) punch. I especially like this technique when the ceilings are slanted as the effect can be quite striking and even a little bit Alice in Wonderland-esque (in the best possible way). Sure, not something you may want in your bedroom, but it could be loads of fun in a powder room. To wit, a few great examples of "tented" bathrooms from domino:

I particularly love Stephen Shubel's crisp black and white striped bath. I'd throw in a few kelly green accents though in homage to Miles Redd's fantastic green, black and white kitchen.

Sara Story

This is a room that's been in my inspiration files for a long time. I love how the purple ceiling highlights the high ceilings, drawing the eye upwards and keeping the focus away from the narrowness of the room. Subtle hits of purple accessories brings the color down, tying the ceiling into the rest of the otherwise neutral room.

Amanda Nisbet

If you're new to the world of decorative ceilings, you really can't go wrong with a very light blue (especially if your walls are white). The effect is subtle, but stunning. This is also a classic ceiling color for a porch as the light blue mimics the sky.

Kelley Interior Design

As one of the many devotees of Turquoise in the design world, I love how Kelley Proxmire has pulled the color out of the upholstery and used it on the ceiling (albeit in a less intense tone). The soft turquoise ceiling highlights the high ceilings and only serves to intensify the hue on the accessories and soft furnishings.

Kishani Perera

I'm so glad purple is "in" again in design -- it's such a rich hue and a great alternative to red. In this bedroom, Kishani brilliantly uses three versions of the same purple on the walls, starting with a deep, intense aubergine below the chair rail and finishing with a light and subtle lavender for the ceiling. Keeping the darkest shade on bottom is a great way to ground your room and make your ceilings look higher. To get the tones right, I'd simply select two or three shades from the same color strip at your local paint store; that way, you're sure to get a perfect match. I'm thinking of stealing this idea myself and have my ceiling in my study painted in a pale lavender, to highlight the moldings and coordinate with the aubergine walls.

So what do you think? Are ceilings the new frontier in design?


Anonymous said...

You always find such gorgeous rooms Averill! I've never done a painted ceiling but I do really like them, and I like the way that you've shown here that there is definitely more than one way to do it. I hope you paint your study ceiling - I would love to see it.

Couture Carrie said...

I love this idea of the fifth wall!
The stripes ones are particularly cool.


Christy said...

I really hope you go for it in your office! And you could even do it in your breakfast nook, couldn't you? This makes me want to ask Matt to paint the ceiling in Fiona's new big girl room...but I know our 'honey-do' list is already too long, so I'll refrain! I LOVE most of the rooms you showcased, but I admit, the one with the walls extending up in those weird humps in that bedroom was not my cup of tea. The light blues, and that purple, and that yellow and white stripe one were my faves. Loved this post!

Sarah Klassen said...

I really like details like this -- my favorite is the vertical stripes -- such a bold and cheerful look :)

I hope you have a great Monday, Averill!

Karen said...

Giving the ceiling attention really adds to a room. Great images.

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous examples. I love the striped nursery, and the dining room with purple ceiling has remained a favorite of mine as well.

Southern Aspirations said...

love the 5th wall thought... I'm ehh on some of those but there are several that I adore. And you can never go wrong (OK, rarely) with a pale blue ceiling. But the various purple shades and green were a great surprise and worked beautifully!

Anonymous said...

If you are practical like me painting a porch ceiling light blue does double duty as both a design element and also as a wasp deterrent. The wasps see the blue and think sky so don't build nests on the ceiling. Just another added bonus.

Janell @ House of Fifty said...

Oh, another view of one of my favorite rooms, the nursery by Jenna Lyons! Love, don't you miss Domino? Wonderful post, the ceiling is a surface I've recently begun to give more consideration. You have put together a great collection of rooms that show so many approaches one can take!

The Interior perspective said...

Fabulous Post !!

pve design said...

My sons ceiling is Orange, and at night when I walk the dog, I love to look up and see that Orange glow. I think it makes the space unique.

Beth Connolly said...

Great ideas. I especially like the tented, wallpapered, and pale tints.

Tracy Watier said...

Very pretty spaces! Love color on a ceiling. I've always wanted to paint a child's bedroom ceiling to look "tented". Didn't do it for my own though... maybe she'll let me do it for one of hers!

Laura@JourneyChic said...

Ok, that Jeffers design really gets under my skin because it's so asymmetrical! You'd definitely have to be daring to pull it off.

The first design show I ever watched, in college, was Christopher Lowell. He was a big proponent of painting ceilings. Two of our ceilings simple need to be painted, and yet I find it so intimidating for some reason! Probably because I'm a terrible painter. :)

Connie @ SogniESorrisi said...

I love the idea of a coloured ceiling. It can really change the feeling of a room.

Liz @ It's Great To Be Home said...

I've never had anything other than a white ceiling, but I do think it looks like a lot of fun!! PLEASE do it in your house so I can live vicariously through you! :)

Poindexter said...

great inspiration - I have my heart set on pale pink ceilings in my home so I'm glad to see that stronger colors not only don't make the room seem smaller, they make it look fabulous!

Aesthetic Oiseau said...

I love this post...I've been contemplating painted ceilings a lot lately, so I loved all of these pictures!

Things That Inspire said...

Great post, illustrated with exquisite pictures!

My neighbor has had her ceilings wallpapered for years - in both her daughter's room and the kitchen. I always thought it was charming. In my own house, I had the ceiling of my family room painted half strength of the green that is on the walls. It is interesting how the different plane and mixing with white make the color appear so different. I love the effect - it makes my family room feel very cozy.

annechovie said...

I think painted ceilings can be really cool. I would love to have a tented ceiling at some point - although I am not sure I'd have the patience or fortitude to do it myself. Loved your comment, BTW!

Sarah said...

I've been thinking about painting the ceiling in our dining room...thanks for all the inspiration pics:)

Patricia Shepard said...

As a perpetual renter (for the foreseeable future, anyway...gotta love the U.S. Navy) this gives me the heebie jeebies. However, you can't argue with a pale blue ceiling, a la Italian palazzo -- I'm thinking the Vanderbilts' Breakers, in Newport, RI!

ticklishfromadistance said...

Love the dining room with the eggplant ceiling. Love it.

Jami - XOimagine said...

Very bold! I love the jeffers.

Carolyn said...

I really like your blog. I think you write well and have good, unique ideas and posts. And it doesn't hurt that you're a Houston girl!

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