In previous centuries, the ceiling was the most decorated surface in a room. Carved beams, exquisite plaster moldings, and elaborate mural work were used to adorn the “fifth wall,” creating a truly unique space. The latest trends in ceiling finishes harken back to these centuries-old techniques, and I couldn’t be happier that this formerly forgotten surface is getting special consideration! From hand-painted medallions to gold and silver leafing and plaster treatments, here are a few of my tips for treating the ceilings of today!
First, let’s take a look back! This palatial room – Vladislav Hall in Prague Castle – has gorgeous architectural details! The definition in the ceiling allows the eye to follow the shape of the room – you instantly feel its height. By keeping the color consistent from wall to ceiling, the eye is not restricted by changes in color where angles meet but drawn to the wonderul stone or plaster molding design.
I absolutely love how the plaster encases this staircase, highlighting all the moldings and details – no need for any painted ornamentation. It feels rather current and fresh, even though it’s part of an old Swedish castle. To read more about it, go to the Remodelista blog here.
Here you see our new twist on an old art. The ceiling in this dramatic dome is plastered like the walls rather than painted a flat paint. It really accentuates the beautiful architecture and fabulous light fixture that designer Cathy Carabello designed with Alcon Lighting out of antique fragments!!!
With its intricately applied plaster moldings, this spectacular ceiling’s details were gilded in silver, bringing the wallpaper and fabric tones up onto the ceiling.
This idea can be applied to flat ceilings as well. In this powder, we created a jewel box effect by gold leafing the ceiling tying in the Fortuny-inspired design that we stenciled in gold on the walls – so glamorous!
In an open floor plan, I always think of the basic colors in the space as being like foundation makeup. Just like foundation makes your complexion consistently even, one color or finish on all the walls in an open area will make the whole home flow together. Then you can go back and highlight the home’s best ceilings and other features with special finishes, just as you would when enhancing your eyes and lips like we did in this ceiling in this Spanish inspired Villa for designer Nicole Zarr.
The open floor plans and rounded corners of today’s architecture, while desirable, do not allow for as many good stopping points for color changes. Ceilings are a great place to use color in a way that sets the room apart and establishes defined spaces. For a room without crown moldings like this one, keep the wall and ceiling color the same for a clean design and only treat the center pop-up ceiling. The molding was applied in this beautiful room to frame the distinctive ceiling treatment!
If you want to add architecture to a space, go European! You can create a three-inch faux architectural border by wrapping the ceiling color down onto the walls. Hand-painting a thin line adds a bit more detail and dimension while dividing the two colors. To create wainscoting, paint from the floor up 36-42 inches, paint a line to seperate the two, and then paint the rest of the walls and ceiling another color.
source Annsley Interiors
I love this fun home office featuring a wallpapered ceiling that pulls out the green accent of the pillow and drapery trim. A similar look could be achieved by an artist with an all-over stencil design. While this bright pattern could easily overpower the space, this room works because the white from the walls is the background color of the ceiling design.
If you want to have coffers and beams on your ceiling but construction wise it is infeasible–paint them in as we did in this trompe l’oeil mural. This master bedroom ceiling was transformed from ho-hum to fab at a fraction of what the real think would have cost!
Segreto created a garden feel for designer Sarah Eilers this sitting area off the master bedroom. Notice how a few of the vines hang down on the walls, giving a more realistic perspective. A perfect place for morning coffee or snuggling up with a glass of wine and a good book at night!
In many rooms, you may not want a special finish, stenciled pattern or mural on the entire ceiling, but you can still use a few embellishments for a personal touch like this ceiling in an entryway we painted for designer Sandy Lucus. Handpainting medallions around chandeliers is a wonderful way to customize the space and add personality – so much more so than a plaster-applied medallion.
Corner treatments are great for low ceilings – they lift the eye, making the room appear taller. In this room, we painted a special flourish at each corner and connected them by a simple line detail to further define the space.
Painted designs are also great ways to enhancing groin ceilings- highlighting both the architecture and the light fixture!
One of my favorites is this one we did for the 2010 Pink Ribbon House fro Designer Katie Galliano. The plaster on both the ceiling and the walls allows the architecture to really be highlighted. Instead of painting along the groins, we hand-painted a design in each of the vaulted sections, perfectly complementing the antique lantern from Tara Shaw.
Sometimes subtle changes on the ceiling create just the right effect as in this ceiling we did for designer Bret Duhon where we waxed over the plaster on the ceiling nset only causing the effect to be slightly richer in tone and sheen than the walls. Whenever we do ceilings for our clients, it’s always amazing to see how much impact the fifth wall has – it truly transforms the space! I hope this assortment of ceiling treatments gave you a few ideas to use in your own home.
Thank you so much for the gang at Patina Green in Mckinny Texas for such a fun book-signing event! Look at for a blog post on their store and restaurant! It is truly a place to see go and experience!!
November 8th : ASID Social Network Event at Segreto Studios Time: 5:30 – 7:30 pm
Join us for drinks and light bights and mix and mingle with ASID Members while touring Segreto’s new studio. Leslie Sinclair will be talking about the inspiration and design of the new studio at 6:15 pm. This will also be a great time to take care of some Holiday shopping in Segreto’s new store. Shop one- of- a- kind minerals and corals, candles, tabletop, hand carved candlesticks, jewelry, art and of course the book Segreto: Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors. Cream ranch with gray doors and columns to the right of a pink house across from St Regis School.
Hope t see you!! Have a great week! xo Leslie