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Solving décor challenges

This week I thought I would answer a question posed by one of our readers.
Jessie asks:
“My ceiling is made of wood which was darkened and varnished. As the wood grew older it became even darker. My walls are only 8 feet high. Therefore, I feel a great heaviness in the room. The lights are on most of the time. The walls have been painted white for the 26 years that I have lived in the house. I am thinking of painting the ceiling in a light ‘blonde’ colour, could you please advise if this is a good idea?”

Jessie, the stark contrast of the white walls and the dark ceiling probably contributes to the heaviness in the room. The room will look even darker because of the vast difference between the ceiling colour and the wall colour. But, a lot depends on the other furnishings and accessories in the room. Lightening the colour of the ceiling will make the room seem lighter, larger and brighter. However, I cannot say definitively if the ‘blonde’ colour is the best choice without having more information about your space. Dark ceilings do not always spell heavy. Many commercial spaces paint the ceiling a dull black to keep your eye downward. Very often you do not even notice because your eye is never drawn to it. When decorating, you must pay attention to how your colour, furnishings and accessories are balanced. The trick is that the eye needs to have something to keep it interested and moving below ceiling height. There are a couple of other tricks you can use to lighten up your space even though you choose to keep your ceilings dark. Try using a few vertical elements in the room. Your low, dark ceiling makes your room feel almost dungeon like.

Decorate your walls with tall, narrow mirrors. Mirrors will reflect light and the height will draw the eye upward. If possible, keep the frames at a medium tone—somewhere between the deep, dark ceiling and the stark white walls. Beside mirrors, other accessories such as plants, lamps and vases can be used to introduce vertical elements to balance out the space. Mount your window treatments high over the window; as close as possible to the ceiling. This introduces those long, tall lines again. You may be better served with drapery only. Do not interrupt the eye with a top treatment. If the space is a formal one and you think going without a top treatment is too casual, put emphasis on the details and the fabric. I am not talking ordinary pedestrian curtains here! If you must use a top treatment, keep the lines simple or the colour very close to that of the drapery. Mounting the drapery high forces the eye upward allowing you to take in all of the space, virtually lengthening the walls and lifting the ceiling.  This is one instance where I may treat windows individually, even though they are close together. Try to keep the outline shape of the window treatment as a rectangle standing on the narrow end. You are also creating some rhythm by giving the eye more than one place to rest. In this case, choose your colour wisely so that it does not present a choppy effect. Also consider broad striped fabric.

Reduce clutter in the space; you do not want to confuse it. Examine every piece of furniture and accessory in the room. Do all elements fit and work well together? Or do you have pieces from ages ago that you just cannot seem to part with. If it does not fit, remove it.  A modern or transitional decorating style has simpler lines than a traditional or Victorian style and tends to feel less stuffy. Also, examine your lighting. Do you only have a light fixture in the centre of the ceiling or off one wall? Inadequate lighting can make any room seem very heavy. In addition to general ambient lighting, consider accent lighting to highlight special accessories, paintings and other wall hangings.  With all the tips thus far, I assume you will retain the deep, rich colour of your wooden ceiling rather than paint it. Consider painting the ceiling in the same colour or a lighter tint of the colour you used on the walls. This has the effect of virtually removing the harsh dividing line between the ceiling and the walls.  Do you have a burning décor problem or want another opinion on your décor decision? Let‘s see if we can work it out together.

Ann Moore-Spencer
Beyond Drapery Limited
Phone: 868-678-3414
Email: beyonddrapery@tstt.net.tt
Web site: www.beyonddrapery.com