Ceilings are not made of glass!

The ceiling has always been a good canvas for expression and a good place to start, writes Vanessa Brady

The higher the ceiling the grander the property – that was the rule when building houses years ago. So a first-floor Victorian or Georgian house was the entertaining floor, which was where the drawing room would be positioned and guests congregated. For that reason, the house would have 3.5 metre or 4 metre high ceilings whilst the rest of the property might only be 2.4 – 2.6 metre high.

High ceilings needed more heating and cost more to build too. Many new-build properties no longer have perimeter coving so totally lack any form of architectural detail at all. With every exit, an entrance is created – enter the new trend to decorate on an entirely clear canvas; the ceiling.

Lower ceilings also mean reduced pendant lighting and therefore there is no reason for the eye to be drawn upwards, and so plaster decoration has also been removed. I have always been keen to enhance a room’s grandness without adding additional colour but adding architectural mouldings to skirtings, walls and ceilings and then adding contemporary furniture with some traditional pieces. A plain flat ceiling in a smallish room could easily have some detail applied without it costing the earth, but it will certainly add some prestige and importance to a room.

Tin tiles on ceilings were used to great architectural effect in the 1800s as houses were made of wood and tin tile ceilings made them fireproof. Even in the 1800s houses had a fire code. The tiles were perforated and shaped, painted and have today come back into fashion. They are very popular as we convert industrial buildings into restaurants and loft apartments and houses into offices for adding character. Design has taken a property and broken all the rules.

Designing an interior for impact is getting harder to achieve with feature products alone. Nowadays, the simpler and least detail is the most desired, probably as our brains are scrambled with so much information. The ceiling has always been a good canvas for expression and a good place to start without the risk of over designing at eye level. Pastel shades of white are warm and provide a softness; patterns such as frescos can be created on pare to the actual dimensions required: just order from a registered copyright printing service and you too can live in your own regal renaissance chapel or blue sky castle.

Dr Vanessa Brady OBE, SBID President