Years ago, we were over one of our friends’ homes (we had visited several hundred times, I’m sure) and I noticed that there was a light missing in their ceiling! I pointed it out and said, “What happened to your light!?” And they responded, “We’ve never had one there since renovating, we should probably patch that.” And then we proceeded to laugh and talk about how many times I had been in their house and somehow missed that. And then we wondered, Does anyone really look at ceilings anyway?!
This was in 2015-ish and I think a few things have changed. First of all, if your ceiling isn’t unusual in any way–chances are, people probably won’t look up. There is a huge chance that you have a missing light fixture and I might miss it. But the other change I have seen over the past nearly 5 years is–ceilings are getting attention and it makes a HUGE difference in a room.
We recently added beams to the Fullmer’s kitchen/living space (tutorial coming!) and their ceilings are standard 8′ and I can’t begin to tell you the character and depth it added. It did the OPPOSITE of making the room look smaller.
All this to say, in our new house one of my goals is to treat the ceilings with thought. I want to make intentional design decisions on the ceiling just as I would on the wall or choosing flooring. It’s an entire plane of a room and I want to do better at acknowledging and designing that. Maybe it’s in phase 1, maybe it’s in phase 4! But I’m feeling so inspired to get there because I truly thing it is what sets a great and extraordinary room apart.
I looked back through my Pinterest board I made to inspire our cottage and was surprised to see how many images already included stand-out ceilings. I may have pinned each one for a variety of reasons, but subconsciously, the ceiling absolutely added to that. Now when I look at theses spaces and try to imagine them with a plain white ceiling, the room falls flat, right?
Here are a few favorites and the lessons I took away from each!
1. Jersey Ice Cream Co. looks as though they removed the ceiling in this shot and exposed the floor joists. Note the ceiling wood and floor wood do not have to match! When I’m mixing wood tones, I shoot to have a medium, light and dark tone.
2. Jessica Helgerson – JH Interior Design added small and simple beams to this bedroom and painted them a warm gray. You can achieve the same look, inexpensively, with squared off 2x4s!
3. Another one from the amazing Jessica Helgerson – JH Interior Design that happens to be my favorite kitchen of all time. The rest of the kitchen is so perfect, I’m not sure I would have even thought to add beams, but it really polishes off the look here. It looks like they coordinate very well with that gorgeous island and tie everything together.
4. Amber Interiors Design Studio | Photo by Tessa Neustadt This ceiling nearly broke my jaw and I can’t even grasp what it took to do this. Whether an addition or subtraction or maybe both. It’s so bold, but warm and organic and layered.
5. Steven Gambrel reminds us to carry that paneling right to the ceiling! We are taking a lot of inspiration from this space for our new dining room, paneled ceiling and all.
6. The Fox Group | Scott Davis Photo And add crown molding! And make it all one color! Done and done! The ceiling is definitely playing a supporting role here but try imagining it white? I can’t! It can’t be!
7. Jake Alexander Arnold My takeaway from this photo, besides break all the art rules and I want to live here, is coffered ceilings can be beautifully understated. I think it takes a lot of boldness and humility, in a way, to add so much beautiful molding to a room and then paint it all the same color. But, wow! It allows everything to sing in harmony.
8. Amber Interiors | Photo by Jess Isaac I remember when Amber released these photos of the Emily + Merrit kitchen and my eyes circled the entire room. It flowed. Everything flowed. And then I wondered, would I have the know how or courage to place those beams in the corner like that. It’s so tricky and so spot on! I keep coming back to this picture to study it more. Also note the balance of woods. Light in the floors, medium in the breakfast nook chairs and dark in the island and beams.
9. Atelier AM I keep coming back to this photo while designing our living room. The large arched window and all of those exposed rafters would translate so beautifully in our home. We’re meeting with an architect today to go over plans and I know there’s a good 5-6 feet of space between our ceiling and the roof and I want to explore what’s up there and what we can expose.
10. Pappas Miron Design | Photo by David A. Land Lastly, a wallpapered ceiling is always a good idea. Wallpaper, plus trim!? Why choose one!
During our home design process, I really want to share more of these posts where I share what I’m studying. Where I’m getting ideas. Who I’m learning from. There are so many talented people out there pushing boundaries in all the right places and it’s giving me the courage to do so in our home, too.
We designed the Charly line of sofas, chairs, and ottomans with perfect proportions for comfort — with wide arms, a loungey depth, and stylish and practical lumbar pillows. Available in 70 kid-friendly, pet-friendly fabrics, this line was created with families in mind.
Our wood grain Shaker cabinet fronts were designed for busy, high-traffic homes like ours. Clad with durable textured thermofoils, this line is compatible with Sektion, Akurum, Godmorgon, and Besta cabinets from IKEA. It's the perfect, practical way to add the warmth of wood to all the rooms of your home.
We have teamed up with Loloi to create a line of rugs that are as affordable as they are beautiful. This collection houses a great mix of traditional and modern rugs, in cottage-y colorways, as well as vintage-inspired beauties that you’ll want to roll out in every room.
We partnered with Stuga on a line of hardwood floors — The Ingrid is really livable, and the color is very neutral. It doesn’t lean warm or cool, it’s that just right in-between. We have really loved putting it everywhere in our house. It’s the best jumping-off point for design, no matter your interior style. In addition to being beautiful, Ingrid is really durable — we have three kids, and we always have a home construction project going on. Ingrid stands up to it all.
Looking for our favorite things? A place to shop our home room by room, or just catch up on what Julia's wearing / loving right now? Browse the CLJ shop.
Befores, afters, mood boards, plans, failures, wins. We’ve done a lot of projects, and they’re all here.
We have a long-standing relationship with DIY, and love rolling our sleeves up and making it happen.
Even when you don’t want to rip down a wall, you can make that space in your home better. Right now.
In case you missed the announcement in our Love Letter, the wallpaper is officially installed in the laundry room, and I could not be ANY MORE IN LOVE! My ultimate goal for the laundry room was to create a space that is fresh, clean, bright, and a little utilitarian (the straight-laid tile floors definitely bring that). With […]
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