Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Adding Character To Ceilings-Part 2

Here are some more ceiling styles that I have finished over the years, and what to do with them.
 If you missed Part 1, check it out here.
 Im trying to cover most of the common ceilings styles, but these tips cover most types of ceilings. 
Again, I'm not saying you need to faux paint them, you can call in a professional for that, or stick to a more basic paint or finish, and do it yourself.  I'll try to share some simple paint techniques with you over the next few months. 

Coffer Ceilings 
A coffer ceiling is very detailed, and beautiful. Not all of these ceilings need paint details, It depends on how they are put together.  If the beams are just made from dry wall, with no wood molding, a paint technique, or base paint in each of the squares is bring out the detail. In these areas, as long as the beams are light in color, you can add a heavy, or dark color. I've even done a black Venetian Plaster in these kind of  squares. 

Some of these types of ceilings are made with wood molding. If it is white, then you have the whole rainbow to play with. Something simple, will still draw you eye up, just as much as a dark color, its about the separation of the areas.

If you have heavy dark beams, you can go either way as well, but you will see alot less contrast between the different squares with a dark color on the ceiling.
There were caps at each intersection, on these beams. I used gold paint to stencil a design that would break up the heaviness, and tie it all together.

These two ceilings below are much more detailed, but still have the same style as a coffer ceiling. 
On the left, there are three steps, but the ceiling was so high, that it wasn't necessary to add any painted detail to this area. 
The ceiling on the right had wide soffet areas, and they seemed to be a bit plain, so paint was added to both parts of the ceiling. In areas like these, it's easiest to work in pieces...with the base of a ceiling first, then step back and see if other areas need more detail. 
Paint on these kinds of detailed ceilings, is a must! You don't notice them if it is all white. 

Barrel Ceilings
These ceilings are found commonly, at entryways, and in hallways. Though I recently painted one in a guest room, so you never know. 
Painting these ceilings is really similar to a dome technique. 
-They should be painted in a certain direction. Making motions all the way from left to right, following the shape or the arch. You can use a roller here, brushing back over the roller marks.
 -You are trying to enhance the shape of the barrel, so adding movement toward the top, will make it look much taller, and more curved. 
-Brushing paint longways, will elongate the barrel, but tends to make it look very shallow. 

Again lighting plays a factor here. Light that shines out or up is best to see a detailed paint finish. A light that is dim or facing down, will make whatever you put on the ceiling look darker than it is. 
Since most barrel ceilings have some sort of molding along the length of them, it is a great spot to add rope lighting, or LED lights. It casts a soft glow that creeps up the arch, and enhances the shape. I've seen clients add Christmas lights, on the tops of the molding as well. 
Those that have a lip at the top, are usually outfitted with a plug, if not, it can be easily installed (call a pro). 
-A very heavy finish with lots of layers of direction, isn't best on a long barrel...with the shape, it can be overkill. A simple base paint, a light brushing, or glaze works best here. 
-This is another area that you can add a dark or heavy color to, as long as it get a good amount of natural light. 

Cathedral Ceilings
Cathedral ceilings are usually very high, and massive. Here you have the option to do anything. 
Obviously a faux finish is nice, since it can accentuate the shape. But any change of color between the two will set it apart. A ceiling like this should most defiantly, not be the same color as the walls. Don't worry about going to dark in an area like this. As long as the room is large, and gets some natural light, a heavy color will push the ceiling up....a color lighter than the wall will do the same. 

Faux Finishing Walls and Ceilings Together
This, I get alot, and it may not be relevant to all of you out there, but in case you decide to hire someone to do a faux painting job, or try and tackle one yourself, here what is best.
I normally don't like to faux finish a wall and a ceiling the same finish. If there is crown molding in the room, it does help break it up. I think to much of the same faux finish in a room, makes it less special. It would be like painting all the walls and ceiling in the exact same color...the areas loose uniqueness.
On this ceiling below, there was a large detail around the fixture base. This was painted in a richer color than the wall, as was the inside of the rectangle. These two areas, help lift the ceiling up, and draw attention, to the special detailing. The rest of the ceiling was done a shade lighter than the walls. So in the end there were four shades of one color  

 Powder baths are an exception to this rule. A small bathroom, should defiantly get the wow factor...whether with a bold color, or a busy design. Areas like these aren't visited for long periods of time, but should say something about your style and personality.  Be fun, be punchy, be different. Do something you would never do in the rest of the walls, striped wallpaper, a silver leaf technique.  Because of the shape of some bathrooms, ceiling and walls tend to roll together, see below.  In a space like this, it would look weird if you didn't do the ceiling. Taking it all the way up, really engulfs you in the design. You can do the same thing with a base paint, even paint a metallic ceiling with a basic color on the walls. You just need something in the room, in that color range, for it to make sense.

A bedroom with a large flat ceiling, can also benefit from a faux finish or base paint on the ceiling. Again they need to be different. This room, does have the crown molding to set it apart, but I made the ceiling a bit darker. This makes the ceiling look taller than it is. I also added a stencil around the edge of the room, to break up the area where they join.

Ceiling Medallions
If you have a ceiling that is low, or just may want to look at making a simple statement around a light fixture, or ceiling fan. There are several ways to do this.

A painted design, with a stencil or a Modello, can give you a detailed pattern or a simple shape. With a stencil, you will need spray adhesive, masking tape, a stiff brush, and paints. It's a bit tricky at first, getting it all lined up, but once on, you have the ability to use more than one color, and highlight certain areas.
A Modello, is a sort of sticky stencil, you can get a much more intricate design this way. It is a one time use, but the options for designs are far more numerous. The size can also be altered, which means you can get your exact dimensions, as big as the entire ceiling if you wanted.  

This design below, was made in an oblong shape, to mimic the table, and give length to the room. The walls were painted in a deep chocolate brown, which would have been much to heavy for an entire 9' ceiling. A simple pattern, which brings in other tones from the room, worked much nicer than base painting, or faux finishing the entire ceiling.

Here are a couple samples of a Modellos. 

You can see how intricate they can be. With a normal stencil, all the areas have to touch each other. A Modello, on the other hand, has several layers, which stick to the wall, allowing every area to be separate. On their website (, they have a detailed tutorial, which shows you the process in which to apply it, and lots of helpful information for the first timer. They also have an entire design library to browse through, thousands of designs!

Another simple option, is a wood, or plastic ceiling medallion. These can be found at your local hardware store, or at several inexpensive companies online here and here. Both offer unpainted, and already faux painted options. 
Most are made of a plastic material, so they are light and easy to install. I usually coat them with a spray primer first, and then base paint the entire surface with a brush. You could spray these, but to get in all the nooks and crannies, a brush is best, spray tends to glob in the delicate areas. 
 For the one below, I used a bronze base. On top, I used a small amount of turquoise paint, and dry brushed just the high areas. Remove most of the turquoise paint off the brush, on a rag or paper, and hold the brush sideways, lightly hitting those high points. It's easy to add more, so start with a little at a time. You could also do this with a metallic, gold or silver leaf rub (found at craft stores), place a small amount on a rag, over the tip of a finger. This way you can control where it goes...just brushing a fingertip over the high point you want to highlight. 

There are so many color options with these, since the aren't big and heavy you can really glam it up, or go bold. The light will need to be removed to install this...always a plus if you are already changing out a fixture.  This can also be re-painted so easily, for all my fellow remodel-aholics!

Well I think you get the idea. There are so many versions of alot of these types of ceilings....find the closest example to your ceiling, and go with that, alot of the guidelines are the same.
Hope this helps...Im sure it's to much information, but it's always better to arm yourself with more info than you need to know, before tackling a ceiling project, or hiring someone to do it for you.
Good luck, and I'd love to see your finished ceiling projects.
See Part 1 Here.

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