How to create ceilings made to steal glances.
BY LIAM RAZZELL
What makes the interiors of some buildings more impressive than others? Wall colour, furniture, ornamentation, flooring and lighting likely come to mind. Ceilings, however, are often overlooked.
Uta Nagel, founder and creative director of Victoria-based Uta Nagel Design, says ceilings are, in fact, the forgotten child of the design world.
“Homeowners and designers may not be aware of all the creative possibilities,” says Nagel.
There are a few big barriers, she admits. Ceiling renovations are expensive. And, if the work wasn’t front-loaded in the initial design, changing ceilings later on is a complex process. As a result, renovators often opt to use their money to update the more functional and visible parts of their home, like bathrooms, bedrooms and floors.
Ceiling renovations can also alter a home’s structure, so expert advice may be required, which will add costs. DIY aficionados may avoid ceiling renovations because working against gravity can be difficult.
Yet, for many homes, there is pure, untapped potential hanging over our heads, and Nagel is a big promoter that this “fifth wall” offers a chance to transform the entire atmosphere of the space. If you’re open to the possibilities and aren’t deterred by costs or labour, you too can decide what your fifth wall will look like.
Make your ceilings pop with colour and texture.
“I draw my inspiration from how I feel when I walk into a room,” says Nagel.
For the easiest transformation, Nagel suggests brushing on a personal flourish of colour to make your ceiling stand out — hello, Michelangelo. Slap up wallpaper to incorporate intricate, hard-to-paint designs.
Lean into luxury with statement lighting. Choose a new pendant lamp or wall sconces that direct the light up.
Go for a farmhouse vibe by exposing supportive beams and swap drywall for brickwork to make your space look like the urban studios found in Montreal and New York.
Kicking the effort up a notch, let in more sun with skylights. Mimic ceilings of years gone by, or experiment with contemporary designs, using moulding and panelling. Install tile and millwork to add interest in a variety of styles.
Tray ceilings, featuring a higher central section, domed ceilings, with their circular details, cloistered ceilings, with central arches, and vaulted ceilings, with their elevated heights — the possibilities are endless.
A Trick of the Eye
If you can’t raise your ceilings — or make other dramatic changes — work from below. Nagel suggests a few interior design hacks that play with scale, perspective and light.
Low furniture will trick your brain into thinking your ceilings are higher than they really are. Installing curtains that hang from ceiling to floor will accentuate a room’s height. Liberal use of mirrors will give you the sensation of additional space.
Ultimately, ceiling renovations should satisfy you, not trends, designers, architects or contractors. Your home is yours and should reflect your interests, passions and personality — and, above all, it should make you feel good.
This ceiling, designed by Uta Nagel Design, makes use of moulding and millwork to add interest to the space. When paired with a vaulted ceiling, the effect is spacious and unique.
Staying on Trend
Not every ceiling style will work for you or your home, but here are a few big and small ways you can make an impact.
Brush up on contemporary design trends. Metal and mirror ceilings are out, according to designer Uta Nagel, whereas warm, wood ceilings are as popular as ever. Tongue-and-groove panelling is trending, and recessed lighting and coloured ceilings are always in vogue.
Consider it carefully. Painting your ceiling a vibrant green may sound like a great idea in isolation, but be sure the colour suits the surrounding wall colour, furniture, flooring and decorative choices.
The common denominator in ceiling success is adding a feeling of space. Raising your ceilings or exposing supportive beams can make your home look and feel bigger.
Wood ceilings and other natural materials automatically add warmth and personality to a space. This Uta Nagel Design ceiling incorporates pot lights and covered beams to offset the natural panelling with dimension.
Light it Up
This recessed ceiling combines trendy curves with a creative LED strip lighting to bring added illumination to the room. While the ceiling itself is simple, the effect is a powerful way to surprise guests.