In this beautiful vintage home from the 1970s, the beamed cathedral ceiling in this room outlined a clerestory window that admitted soft light.
Massive beams gave solidity to this contemporary living room, bringing it into line — literally and figuratively — with the fireplace wall and the generous hearth. The siding between the beams was repeated on the walls, and on the divider panel at the right of the fireplace.
The play of texture against texture was superb, with the woods of floor, walls, and ceiling supporting the various surfaces of the brick-like raised fireplace tile, the stone hearth, and the bright hammered copper in the accessories.
Two midcentury modern sofas with alternating colors of wide and narrow stripes, plus flat throw pillows added a splash of color.
Ceiling beams: Vintage design notes
Architecturally, a beam is one of the principal horizontal supporting members in a building, such as a support for a roof or a floor.
When the ceiling beams are truly structural, they are usually of a wood finish, which blends with wall paneling and is sometimes repeated in the ceiling panels between the beams.
While the beams in this home were an integral part of its structure, the matching beams at the top of the walls adjacent to the fireplace were purely decorative.
A good way to dress up an old house is to install false beams, particularly where you have high ceilings that can take lowering to bring them into better perspective with the shape and size of the room involved.
Prefabricated wooden beams are available, and you can stain or paint them to suit your own decoration — let them be a bold architectural motif or a subtle background for style.
An installation simple enough for you to do yourself can be made with false beams that are really just boxes — lightweight plywood, nailed together and fastened to the ceiling. These can be stained to blend with other wood finishes in the room, or painted to match the ceiling.
For a contemporary home, consider the possibilities of framing plastic panels over warm-colored lighting, which is then screened from the room with ceiling beams. The great panels between the beams would seem to pour sunshine into the room, giving it accent and warmth.