Most people don’t think of decorating their ceilings–but maybe they should. Or you should–start a trend.
If you’re looking to make some changes to your house, install some decorative ceiling beams–they’re dramatic and impressive addition to your home’s architecture. For hundreds of years, beams were exposed–both the wall supports and the roof trusses. As building methods and materials improved, walls were plastered over, and eventually the roof beams were also covered by wood or plaster.
If you think that exposed beams are not for you–your ceilings aren’t high enough, your house is too modern, beams are too rustic–think again. You can source beams in a variety of materials, colors, and finishes, and integrate them into just about any home’s architecture.
Beam Me Up
Here are several architectural beam types, and some rooms where you might not think to put them, but they would be a striking feature.
A series of beams in a tray ceiling adds interest to the room–by itself, a tray ceiling is a bit of a bore. The builder put a lot of effort into fabricating that detail, but without anything to draw the eye upward–most of us don’t have a Sistine Chapel on the ceiling–it’s a lost element. Installing beams in a contrasting color adds interest to the tray, and your builder will appreciate that you are calling attention to his handiwork.
A coffered ceiling brings to mind English country houses and afternoon high tea. Coffers are when beams are placed in a grid pattern on the ceiling, and they can be heavy and dark, or light and delicate. The English country house concept does coffers a disservice since they can be incorporated in a room with lower ceilings, maybe in a kitchen or a nursery. Some bold homeowners install skylights in some of the grid boxes for a really unique look.
Cathedral and Vaulted
Lots of contemporary houses have high, vaulted ceilings that don’t have offer a lot besides empty cubic feet. If your vibe is more casual, then a simple vaulted beam–one that runs up the angle of the ceiling and meets another at the center–will do. As with any custom beam, you can decide if you want a color or a wood finish on the vaults. For a kid’s room or an attic bedroom with this kind of ceiling, pick a vibrant color against an ivory ceiling.
If your look is more Downton Abbey, cathedral beams not only fill the space, but add tons of architectural details. These beams build down on the vaults, with a series of triangles above a horizontal support beam. That’s the traditional cathedral beam, but you can incorporate any design form in between the vaults and lower beam–some more avant-garde homeowners install the mid-pieces like Mondrian art–asymmetrical rectangles that are unique to each beam set.
If you’ve got a grand entry–or if you wish you did–envision circular exposed beams in the center of the ceiling. The beams aren’t round, but installed as a cross, with corbels creating a perimeter. Yes, it looks like a clock on the ceiling, but is a stunning frame for statement pendant lighting.
Some newer houses have great rooms, with a flat ceiling at the second floor height, and the main living room waaay down at the bottom. If that’s not your favorite look, install parallel beams at the bottom of the balcony or walkway on the second floor to create the illusion of a lower ceiling. You can run wiring along the beams so you’ll have the option of lighting the lower half of the room. This is not for the faint of heart, but it’s a certainly an original solution to the dreaded two-story great room. If you’ve got lots of natural light in that space, a faux ceiling gives you a never-the-same light show.
Worthington Millwork has ceiling beams for any project, and can guide you to the best design for your house and your lifestyle. They’re are available in a variety of colors to work into your beaming esthetic–give them a call today.