Carey Karlan: When Walls aren’t Straight

October 21, 2014

We all love the charm of unexpected nooks and crannies—but the charm fades when dormers become dark, useless tunnels and sharp ceiling lines become head banging obstacles.  Where do the walls end and the ceilings begin?  Is there any room for art? Where does one squeeze in the furniture?

Generally I like to bathe the room in a cloud of the same color, which softens the lines between vertical wall, slanting wall and ceiling.  Soft colors are best, as they will intensify when used on multiple surfaces.

carey karlan

All photos courtesy of Last Detail

Photography by Paul Johnson unless otherwise noted

Sometimes, when there is just one slanting ceiling line, it might be best to just embrace it and use it as a focal point: a bed under striped wallpaper to create a tent for a child’s room or the more sophisticated application of a truly unique and expensive wallpaper that acts as a cocooning headboard or even stand alone art.

carey karlan master bedroom

Be fearless with wallpaper! In a client’s feminine dressing room retreat the subtle metallic floral paper softens hard angles and contributes to the dreamlike ambiance. Note that since we didn’t paper the ceiling we did paint it a warm tone to match the ground of the paper so there would be no abrupt transitions.

When the space is a massive maze of jogs, dormers, and uneven angles I’ve tried painting stripes around the perimeter to distract from the disjointed architectural elements.  Choosing several contiguous shades from a paint swatch card and applying them in varying widths is a good approach.

jan beiles

Photography by Jane Beiles

As for furniture placement and art–what can you do but use the space you’ve got?  I don’t mind hanging art low on the knee wall, moving the seating to the center of the room and placing an airy four poster bed in front of a window if you have to!  Finally, try to make those deep dormers as cozy and come-hither as possible with lush window seats, pillows and storage below.  It may be more “for show “than for “go” but the charm index will go way up, making it worth the effort.

Carey Karlan is principal of the award winning interior design firm Last Detail, based in Stamford, Connecticut. Her work has been published in a variety of magazines including New England Home Connecticut. Carey’s mission is to focus on the needs and desires of her clients, and design interiors that exceed their expectations, and suit their lifestyle. 

You can read all about Carey’s own home on here.