Hard-working ceilings

Hard-working ceilings – Trend Lines/Custom Touches

Shelley D. Hutchins

“The ceiling is one of the most ignored sides of a room,” laments Bethesda, Md.-based architect Jim Rill. “It’s really a great way to divide or orient a space, and to give warmth, rhythm, and texture to a room.” The architects whose projects are shown below all agree that ceilings are too often missed opportunities and should be treated with at least as much consideration as walls or floors. Decorative ceiling options are numerous and can be used to manipulate natural light, give the illusion of increased space direct attention to specific views, or delineate separate areas within open floor plans.

Pretty in Plaid

“The ceiling is the only surface that doesn’t have to function, so it can contribute a lot to a space,” says architect Mark McInturff. For the dining room in this Laurel Mills, Va., house, taking advantage of the ceiling meant sheathing it in maple plywood to match the floor. “It’s a maple sandwich,” laughs McInturff. Two widths of trim form a three-dimensional grid across the sheathing. The narrow trim joins the 4×8 plywood sheets while the wider trim outlines a 6-foot grid, which serves as the module for the home’s floor plan. A matching ceiling is found in the screened porch, reached via a narrow loggia flanked by two outdoor courtyards. Builder: Bob Etchells, Washington, Va.; Architect: McInturff Architects, Bethesda, Md.; Photographer: Julia Heine.

Twin Peaks

Two symmetrical and subtly peaked ceiling treatments, finished in stained fir beadboard, run parallel along the length of the first floor in this Potomac, Md., home. The wood spines serve as visual directionals plus they saved the square footage and cost of adding a traditional hallway to the plan. A conservation easement between the house and the adjacent Potomac River meant a shallow site, so “we Ball to create rooms that are flexible enough to function as their own intended space but also incite flow into the next space,” says architect Jim Rill. Periodic drywall coffers create a rhythm that breaks up the long detail and draws the eye to cross views. To neatly insert the textured wood panels, Rill had the drywall turn a corner to form a clean transition. Rill also used the sculpted wood sections as an opportunity to elevate the 8-foot ceiling slightly in the center of the room, giving the fireplace more presence and making the lower sides read like cozy nooks. Builder: Hopkins & Porter Construction, Bethesda, Md.; Architect: Rill & Decker, Bethesda; Photographer: Lisa Masson Studio.

Four Square

The combo kitchen and informal eating nook in this Pepper Pike, Ohio, home had varied ceiling heights and shapes, so architect Fred Margulies used a wood panel to tie the rooms together as well as to create a focal point in the 450-square-foot space. Four squares of clear maple are connected in a checkerboard pattern using the direction of their natural grain for contrast. The 8-foot-square panel is attached to sleepers in the lower drywall ceiling with a joist on top to keep the wood steady as it cantilevers out into space where the ceiling jumps from 10 feet to 14 feet above the kitchen. Recessed spacers between the maple and drywall create a shadow line that gives the wood a floating effect. Four pendants hang down in an offset but symmetrical pattern in relationship to the L-shaped island. Says Margulies, “it’s a wonderful piece that ties everything together.” Builder: HLF Homes, Pepper Pike, Ohio; Architect: Herschman Architects, Beachwood, Ohio; Photographer: Kevin G. Reeves Photographer. Resources: Kitchen plumbing fixtures: Elkay, Circle 195; Lighting fixtures: Juno, Circle 196, Progress, Circle 197, Starter, Circle 198.

Lofty Heights

The retired owners of this Montecito, Calif,, home wanted a loft-like gallery to showcase their extensive contemporary art collection. For architect Robin Donaldson, loft meant tall volumes with exposed rafters. Open-web, commercial steel trusses topped with corrugated metal decking fit the desired industrial look and also allowed Donaldson to create a long, open span without load-bearing walls or columns. All this, he says, for a lower pricetag and a stronger roof than produced with most standard residential variations. Framing ocean views and capturing the best sun, the shed roof peaks at 14 feet on the gallery side then slopes down to 10 feet above more intimate gathering spots. A smooth plaster ceiling floats below the tresses along the center section of the long floor plan, so “you can be sitting or eating and look up to see a conventional material that conveys a more home-like effect,” explains Donaldson. Skylights with white laminate glass prevent damaging UV rays from coming through and they bestow even, diffused light along the gallery passage. Exterior sunshade louvers along the opposite exterior wall sit just above a row of clerestory windows to temper incoming light for the same soft effect. Builder: Paul Franz Building & Construction, Santa Barbara, Calif.; Architect: Shubin & Donaldson Architects, Culver City, Calif.; Photographer: Tom Bonner. Resources: Steel trusses: Valcraft, Circle 199.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Hanley-Wood, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group