Editor’s Miscellany: High Shine Overhead

August 2, 2012

By Kyle Hoepner

There are those who feel that ceilings, like well-mannered dinner guests, should contribute quietly to an occasion, not shouting or otherwise calling too much attention to themselves. Wise advice, when it comes to social matters. But in the context of a beautiful room, isn’t it sometimes fun when the expanse overhead–which is, after all, generally the largest open stretch of real estate in your typical rectangular box–gets to take a star turn? And how much more interesting, still, when the leading role can be played in a commanding yet unassuming way.

High-gloss finishes fit that brief perfectly. Luscious but not strident (unless you prefer to up the voltage with a really strong contrasting color), they can be as subtle as you wish, even while their rich gleam pulls the whole space together–much as does the varnish on an Old Master oil painting.

Philip Gorrivan‘s bedroom in the 2008 Kips Bay Decorator Show House, whose ceiling was an expanse of glossy white stretch vinyl.

Photo by Raeanne Giovanni-Inoue, from The New York Times

Another bedroom, by Cullman & Kravis for the Inspired Designs showhouse, with a lacquered white ceiling.

Photo by curbed, from flickr.com

Design pair James Michael and Phoebe Howard created this living room for House Beautiful as part of the 2011 showhouse project, Designer Visions: Cinema Style.

Photo by Francesco Lagnese, from House Beautiful

This wonderfully airy space (from a real, sure-enough, lived-in house this time!) is by Atlanta designer Beth Webb. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but the ceiling actually has a faint aqua tint.

Photo by William Abranowicz, from House Beautiful

In this urban dining room by Boston’s Hacin + Associates, the ceiling tray is subtly set off by the gloss of its pale Venetian plaster.

Photo by Trent Bell for New England Home. Click to see more of this apartment.

The living room of Reed and Delphine Krakoff’s Upper East Side brownstone, as seen in the September 2010 issue of Vogue.

Photo by Sheila Metzner, from Vogue

Look how the height of this white, white kitchen and dining area, by Delphine Krakoff’s Pamplemousse Design, virtually doubles.

Photo courtesy of Pamplemousse Design

Finally, if you desperately need a shot of color after so many vanilla hues, how about this Florida cabana by Nate Berkus, whose ceiling appears to have been slathered in creamy chocolate fondant?

Photo by Roger Davies, from Elle Decor

…or the luscious plum lacquer capping a sepia-and-gray media room by Connecticut designer Mar Silver?

Photo by Björn Wallander for New England Home’s Connecticut. Click to see more of this house.

…or this monumental living room by Stephen Gambrel, with its crowning plane of orange?

Photo courtesy of S.R. Gambrel

Yum!