Ceiling Finishes & Finishing Ideas

Ceiling Finishes & Finishing Ideas

Ceiling design with wood: ceiling finishes & finishing ideas in the architectural style.

Craftsman Style

Interior Treatment

¶ Here we touch briefly on some of the leading principles of interior treatment, with occasional reference to the details of construction, which should claim the attention of the joiner and decorator.

¶ It will occur to the mind of any one who gives the subject a moment's consideration, that where a distinctive style has been chosen for the exterior of a building, no decided departure from it should be permitted on the interior decorations. Not that the external forms should be repeated throughout the apartments, but that the same spirit of composition should manifest itself plainly and undeniably, even to the uncultivated eye. With a Grecian exterior, anything but a Grecian interior, if style is attempted at all, is unpardonable, and the same verdict applies to all phases of architecture between which there is a radical difference, as between the Grecian and Italian, the Italian and Gothic, etc.

Ceiling Finishes

¶ The style of an interior is characterized by the finish of ceiling, with form of the openings and manner of dressing them. The simplest form of ceiling, where style is attempted to be portrayed, is divided into compartments or panels, and may have a very plain cornice with a bed and frieze moulding, and the usual architrave fillets on the lower edge; this, with square-headed openings, is the type of all Grecian interiors. As a higher display is aimed at, the entire details of the Grecian entablature are introduced, the panels in the ceiling are deeply sunk and moulded, and the openings decorated with pilasters and entabla. tures in accordance with the fixed proportions of the style.

¶ In the Italian, or its legitimate parent, the Roman style, the semicircular or oval-headed opening is introduced, the ceiling is sometimes coved and sometimes flat, but always embellished with more or less foliated moulded work, either in solid plaster or fresco painting; much latitude is allowed in the cornice, but, as a rule, its vertical dimensions should not vary much from one-eighth of the height of the room, having its projections sufficient to give strong lines of shadow.

¶ A Gothic interior, or rather an interior in which the spirit of Gothic style is to be maintained, is rendered very pleasing by giving the ceiling the form of a depressed arch; this is readily and cheaply done by farring down from 6 to 10 inches at the sides of the room, (or more where the height of the room is ample,) from the horizontal plane of the under side of the joists, and gradually decreasing the depth of furring up to the middle of the ceiling, which thus becomes the crown of an arch through the whole length of the room.

¶ For a simple bedroom treated in this manner, a light cornice of cove profile, run in the angle against the walls, makes a finish of sufficient completeness; but where a higher grade of embellishment is required, it becomes necessary to introduce a longitudinal moulded rib at the apex of the ceiling, membering at the wall-cornice, and various transverse ribs, and, in wide rooms, other ribs parallel to the length of the room; by this treatment the ceiling is divided into regular compartments, and with neatly moulded ribs, having bosses at the intersections, is greatly beautified.


¶ Before leaving the subject, we will exhibit a few tasteful designs for cornices, irrespective of any particular style. Fig. 146 is a neat and very effective cornice in execution; its contour is referable to Gothic mouldings, and it would perhaps be best to confine its use to Gothic apartments.

Cornice, 146

¶ Fig. 147 is a very large drawing-room cornice, and applies well to the Italian style of interior. The foliation of the cove may be either solid in plaster of Paris, or imitated by fresco painting.

Cornice, 147

¶ Fig. 148, although a very good cornice, is not so large as the above; if the cove, however, is foliated by painting, its inferior dimensions will scarcely detract from its elegance, unless the room in which it is placed be disproportionately large.

Cornice, 148

¶ Fig. 149 is a very chaste cornice, yet with a strongly-marked character; its terminal mouldings are rather abrupt, but a touch or two by a ready hand in forming the mould will remedy the slight imperfection.

Cornices, 149/150/151.

¶ Fig. 150 is a neat cornice of almost unlimited application. Its simplicity and the economy with which it can be run are points that recommend it to favor.

¶ Fig. 151, although very simple in section, is, when executed with the fullness and rotundity here represented, a very pretty example of plain cornice. The characteristic pointed-head of the Gothic opening is seldom applied to interiors, except inavery depressed form, on account of its being poorly adapted to practical use; as a general rule, it is much more convenient to have square-headed openings throughout interiors, even when the lancet-pointed arch is used on the exteriors; this is practicable in windows of moderate size, but does not look well in a very large window. We speak of the convenience of square-headed windows in view of the ease with which inside shutters, curtains, etc. can be arranged and fitted. If the pointed finish is retained on the inside, that portion of the inside shutter above the springing line of the arch must be made stationary, and the head of the window curtains will also follow the lines of the arch, terminating at the springing line; all this, although productive of a very agreeable effect, is attended with increased complication and no inconsiderable expenditure.

¶ These remarks apply with equal force to the semicircular or Roman arch. We should not neglect to mention that another expedient is sometimes resorted to when the pointed or semicircular form of head is retained; we allude to sliding the inside shutters into the ~lls in each side of the window. This is often successfully done in very expensive houses; but there are various objections to it, not the least of which is the liability to get out of order; another is, the space or chasm that must inevitably occur between the springing line and the crown of the arch when the shutter is entirely open, that is, pushed into the wall to its full depth.

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