Decorative ceilings are among the top remodeling trends for 2015 offered by interior experts.
Residential remodeling is back near the $300 billio mark after climbing out of the Great Recession, according to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. It reports that while residential construction is many years away from a full recovery, the home-improvement industry could post record-level spending in 2015.
A larger-than-ever share of that money will be spent on ceilings, often called the “fifth wall” by interior designers. Decorative ceilings are among the top remodeling trends for 2015 offered by leading American interior experts.
That’s not surprising since the ceiling is the largest solid surface in a room aside from the floor. And despite their near-disappearance in the last half-century or so, decorative ceilings have been architectural focal points since Roman times.
Consider the air of elegance and architectural depth that coffered ceilings contributed to Edwardian English mansions (i.e., “Downton Abbey”). On the other side of the Atlantic, metallic tiles have added shine and sophistication to the homes of up-and-coming Americans since the late 1800s.
Today, residential remodelers are recognizing the aesthetic virtues and investment value of giving ceilings a face-lift. They’re also well aware that homeowners are looking for appealing alternatives to the “popcorn ceilings,” vanilla drywall and industrial-looking grid systems that have dominated the top layer of rooms since World War II.
Modern manufacturers are responding to this ceiling revival by creating extensive – and expanding – product lines designed to elevate any decor, from homey to high-end.
Beauty Plus Practicality
Many of these ceiling products also come with a practical side – they’re engineered to be lighter and more affordable than traditional decorative materials like plaster and real wood. And some offer special benefits, like improving the acoustics of a room, or preventing the growth of mold and mildew.
Modern ceiling systems also are simpler to install than their labor-intensive antique ancestors. Indeed, many new products can be securely attached directly onto drywall and textured stucco (popcorn).
Converting a stark-white or builder-beige ceiling into interesting canopy also can fix original design flaws or add visual harmony to remodeled spaces.
For example, a room with an unusually high ceiling can feel cozier when topped with warm wood-laminate planks. Coffered ceilings can unify the expanse created when walls are removed to create open-concept rooms. A drop-in ceiling system – featuring modern raised panels or metallic stamped tiles – might be the best choice for renovating an older house where the framing has settled over time.
With the wide range of new styles, materials and systems, ceilings offer a great opportunity to introduce texture, sheen, shape and color to even the most cookie-cutter house. More than mere crown molding, they create a frame for the entire room. Ceilings with character also add contrast to the “less-is-more” approach to accessorizing advocated by many interior designers in 2015.
The following is a sampling of ceiling choices that can help “finish” a room and reasonably add value to a remodeling project:
Warm Up with Wood
There’s a reason wood flooring is so popular – it tends to warm up a room and add textural appeal. The same goes for ceilings. Real or engineered wood panels can extend a sense of style in any room. That’s because they come in a wide range of tones, textures and patterns to suit any decorating style, from rustic to midcentury modern to sleek contemporary.
Tongue-and-groove systems make installation easy and, once finished, they imbue spaces with the comforting texture of natural grain at a much lower cost than real wood. Many are engineered to reflect light, enhancing the brightness in a room. Wood-look planks are often made from recycled materials.
Stained, white-washed or painted, engineered woods can accent any décor – for example, bead board to enhance a cottage-style home, knot-holed cedar to evoke a rustic effect, or glossy painted black planks to accentuate an ultra-contemporary style.
After the Civil War, homeowners used painted tin tiles to recreate the two-dimensional look of expensive plaster ceilings. Today’s metal ceilings are far more versatile. Stamped metal tiles can confer a vintage vibe in any space, especially with the historical patterns available.
Limiting a metal ceiling to just one room can emphasize it as a central space while adding an elegant touch to a modest space. The light-bouncing qualities of finishes like copper, brass and lacquered steel help visually raise the height of a room. The lacquered steel panels, like Armstrong’s Metallaire ceiling tiles, also can be
painted to accent or blend with the rest of the room. Regardless of the finish, the texture of the tiles creates a tactile “top layer” to a room.
In architecture, a coffer is a sunken panel in a ceiling, such as those that adorn the interiors of old-world cathedrals and historic luxury hotels. Today’s residential versions tend to be less ornate but equally elegant, with repeating sunken square or rectangular panels bounded by a grid of intersecting beams.
Coffers add a bold, eye-catching element to large formal rooms, modern living rooms, kitchens, master bedrooms and home offices. Besides adding distinctive depth to a space, coffered ceilings help reduce noise by absorbing sound, making them ideal additions to home theaters.
Today’s streamlined and cost-effective ceiling systems offer the remodeling industry new ways to add crowning touches to home renovation projects.
ABBY MARTIN is the marketing manager for Armstrong World Industries’ retail ceilings business in North America. In her role, Martin owns product promotion and development strategy for a multi-channel retail business. She manages a team of marketing professionals and external vendors who support the residential ceiling business in the United States and Canada. For more information, visit www.armstrong.com/residential-ceilings.