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Published: Wednesday, 3/22/2006

Ceiling Renovations Are Looking Up


Homeowners are willing to put plenty of money into what goes beneath their feet, knowing that the right carpet, rug, tile or wood is a major factor in their interior design. It's time, however, for them to look up for a change. That ceiling covers just as large an expanse of space as the floor, and can be just as much a "wow" magnet as the bottom surface.

The truth is, most people take ceilings for granted. After all, so much goes into the rest of the room that a ceiling design is rarely figured into either the design plans or budget. With the new ceiling treatments available, however, it's possible to add a whole new dimension to your home's interior.

The least expensive, but nevertheless quite effective, method of ceiling renovation is with paint. Think of the ceilings you see most often: they're white, flat or drop acoustic tile. Oh, there might be some plaster swirls, a drip texture, maybe even a bold beam breaking up all that flat space. Really, though, is it interesting? Paint can change all that.

An application of a solid color is rarely going to do the trick, though. There are countless methods of applying faux finishes with paints, stains and glazes, and your local paint store will likely have plenty of information; plenty of books are also available. For example, if your den or living room has a gold carpet or rug, try a light red paint with an overbrush of gold leaf enamel for the look of antique opulence. A room done in neutral tones can benefit from a ceiling treatment of the same base color of the walls with a sponge application of a slightly darker shade; the overall effect will add texture.

With an expanded budget, you can attach a new ceiling to the old, and lose very little in ceiling height. Ceiling tiles, and even a planked ceiling, are available in composite materials from companies famous for their flooring, and they're flame and noise retardant. Often these apply directly to the existing ceiling with no gridwork necessary, and the styles range from traditional tin-style designs to sleek contemporary looks. The price is roughly what the homeowner would pay for comparable flooring materials, and the colors are fast and the materials easily washable.

A new trend is in stretchable material that not only changes the ceiling's color and texture, but its shape as well. Available from only a few companies, these ceiling makeovers can create a domed, peaked or other dimension overhead, in a variety of colors or patterns. Check online for "ceiling renovations," and you'll find some sites. For as many decorators that go for the newest trends, however, there are as many pushing the tried and true.

Ceilings of tin and other metals have never gone completely out of style, though they're not nearly as prevalent as they were 80 years ago. Molded tin, steel and even copper ceilings are the ultimate touch of luxury, but you'll pay the price of such a fine finishing touch. Panels of molded tin, usually around two feet square, can cost around $20 or more per piece. Their classic look and beauty is unsurpassed though, and certainly add to a home's value.

Just because you aren't constantly looking at something doesn't mean that it can be overlooked. Consider this: If your house was suddenly turned upside down, would you want to walk on your ceiling?

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