Interior Design Tips 4 (ceilings)

Oh where, oh where, have the beautiful ceilings all gone?

This article about ceilings. Please don’t overlook the importance, interest, and beauty that ceilings can contribute to your cottage. I think too many people overlook the importance and beauty that a ceiling can contribute to any room. Let’s face it, if you really want to “Wow!” your guests, looking up in a room and seeing a stunning ceiling can be one of the most exhilarating treatments a room can have. Yes, it is an additional cost, and yes, it is rather tiring (if adding ceiling accents other than paint) on your arms and shoulders when addressing the ceiling, but it can create some dramatic results.

Historically, ceilings within cottages were ‘just’ the exposed timbers and joists supporting the upper floor. Sometimes, in the smaller and simpler of cottages, plaster was in-filled between the large timbers and then painted or whitewashed. Sometimes, the upper floor construction was hidden (or covered) with plaster and then wood moldings were applied in various different patterns. In the larger cottages or villas, the exposed timbers were molded and/or carved and some were very ornate in their designs. In the large Tudor estates, exquisitely designed Plaster ceilings were created by tooling, which included bosses with relief, emblems, and sometimes plastered pendants which added to the decorated ceiling. Some of the most intricate of patterns could be obtained by using plaster. Most of the really ornate plastered ceilings are considered to be of the “Jacobean” style and era.

For our purposes however, there are some cottage standards that I think are very complimentary and suit the “new” Old-English cottage style. As mentioned above, exposed timbers are one such standard. Exposed timbers are almost considered – at least by me – as a necessity. Ceiling timbers can be plain, rough-sawn, artificially distressed, carved, or accentuated by additional moldings and brackets or corbels. These timbers can also be purely decorative, meaning that they are not structural or don’t actually support the floor above. Structural timbers occur in real timber framing of the cottage, and this is a great route to go if you choose to have your cottage timber-framed. The ceiling timbers can be of varying sizes and grid patterns.

The use of tin on the ceilings, with all of its wonderful patterns, can also be used with good results. Tin, by many, is considered to be more of the Victorian era, but I have seen some beautiful ceilings using both wood and tin together with pleasing results.

As mentioned in an earlier article within this blog, painting of the timbers is not encouraged. Show off the wood’s beauty by showing the wood itself.

A tip to help you place small moldings on the ceiling is to screw plywood sheets (5/8″ or thicker) on the ceiling joists (floor joists for the floor above) and then screw the drywall (5/8″ thick drywall) on top of this. I don’t recommend nailing ceiling drywall as I have seen all too many times nail heads poking through and exposing themselves if the drywall is nailed instead of screwed. The plywood will act as a substrate for the molding which can then be attached without the worry of trying to find the hidden joist above.

Also, avoid any modern texturing patterns on the drywall between the timbers. By this I mean, it will not look authentic or complimentary to have modern “knock-down” or “orange peel” texturing on the ceiling or the walls, so avoid this if possible anywhere within your cottage. Rather, go with a smooth finish or a troweled plaster look, which appears so much more authentic. These types of finishes do require more work and expense but the results are worth it.

I don’t want this article to become too long, and there are few other things I would like to mention, so I will do that in the next and concluding article about ceilings.

Any comments?

One Comment

  1. Does anyone know of a company that would provide a construction “kit” for storybook type homes? I am a developer with some great sites in village settings in Indiana and I think this may be the type of development that would work on some sites. My concern is the cost of construction for this type of home.