Changing Plans and Adding Drama : Ceiling Part I

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I love a good ceiling. I do not ignore the 5th wall – I embrace it. And we wanted the Library to be special. Here is the ceiling when we moved in. The tiles are a pressed synthetic material, we believe added in the 1990s. It’s intact, and in good shape, so we opted to keep it. That paint color? Not so much. I mean, I do like that it’s interesting and they used different colors. But it’s very “Miami Beach 1992.”

We have the same ceiling in in the front bedroom, and we learned there that painting it really made a difference. Initially, my thought was to paint it red, like the walls. This room is ALL window and pairs of pocket doors and bookcases. There really isn’t a lot of wall space, so I thought taking the color up to the ceiling would be fun, especially since I wanted to add some sort of wood detail to the ceiling. But then I had the thought to paint it gold – like a nod to a tin ceiling.

I was really REALLY excited how this came out!

We knew we wanted the room to be really moody, and to FEEL like an antique Library. To use, that meant rich colors and lots of wood. We wanted to add a design on the ceiling – not bulky beefy wood beams, but a wood element that felt a little beam like. Some of my inspiration ideas are in this post.

I saw these windows on Facebook Marketplace one day, and thought : THAT’S IT. That’s the ceiling design.

We even added tape to make sure we liked it. FUN FACT – the chandelier is not in the direct center of the room. But, there’s no logical way to correct that. It makes Doug a little bonkers.

Cool, right?

So we ordered wood, and I got everything dyed. We were going to use two pieces of trim – one wider and flat, and one smaller and curvier on top to create the “beam.” As we got closer to installation – and I mean, like TWO DAYS before – Doug was explaining to me how challenging the cuts were going to be, where the spokes intersected with the square. He was like, “I can absolutely do this, but it’s a lot of precision work that is going to take a lot of time to make the profiles of the wood interlock with each other correctly.”


This picture is fun, because we spent an evening getting the scaffolding set up to start the project, and I posted this picture on Instagram and said something like “So excited to work on the ceiling project this weekend,” and then at dinner, we were talking about it and Doug told me how complex it was going to be and I just hit the brakes.

Partly because I’m impatient, and partly because I didn’t want to design something that was going to be so complex, I thought about changing the design. Which would be interesting, because we already had the wood and I would need to create a design that didn’t need more, and also didn’t waste what we had. Part of me, because I’m insane, was weirdly excited by the challenge. Doug said that what would be easiest was if all the shapes on the ceiling were independent of one another.

So, step one of crazy redesign : I had Doug hold the wood pieces to the ceiling, so I could see from the ground what the scale was.

Step two : I sat on the floor staring up at the ceiling.

Steph three : lots of drawings. I used none of these, but they made me think about the shapes and possibilities, so it was all part of the creative process.

Step four : management is bored, and stacks of wood lay uninstalled in the corner.

I came up with a plan. Just like before, I wanted to tape it up, to see what I thought.

Shape 1 : an outline of the room.

Shape 2 : an interior square (we called this “the diamond,” even though it’s really not.

And then, in a very un-Amy like way, I said : “I like this, and I think we’ll do more with it, but I want to get this part up first. see what it looks like, and then I’ll design the rest.” That is not how I roll usually, but it was the Wild West at this point.

For some reason, the tape we used on the first design stayed up for about 6 months. This tape lasted maybe a day. Hopefully that’s not a bad omen.

It did make it look like a party in here, though.

We started with shape one, on the outside of the room. I decided to split up the wood, and not layer them as intended, and we used the smaller pieces for this outside shape.

The nice thing about this ceiling, is that it has a built-in grid – which made this go SO much faster than if we were to do it without. If you didn’t have a built-in grid, it would be worth it to snap some chalklines and make your own grid.

Looking good so far! One side done.

We just kept working out way around the room. It didn’t take as long as we thought it would to do each shape.

Shape one, DONE!

On to shape two – the Diamond. For this shape, I chose the wider, flatter board.

This actually went up easier than the first shape!

I didn’t do a great job of getting the picture that I took from the floor square. But, you get the gist. 😉

Three sides!

There aren’t a lot of pictures of either of us working on this project, because it really was a solidly 2-person job. One of us holding, the other shooting.

I like that the woods are different widths – it gives it a little more depth than I was envisioning!

Two Shapes DONE! Next up? The rest of the design!


  1. I love the way you took a problem and creatively solved it! It looks great!
    Peggy R.

  2. I appreciate your willingness and ability to change plans when needed, to see many great design possibilities.

      1. That sadness is understandable. Even if you like the new plan, it’s still painful to let go of that original vision.

  3. I’m so glad it’s almost summer vacation and you’ll be back in the summer swing of things! Was starting to have VV update withdrawals 😉 Ceiling is really sharp!! Cant wait to see where your final design goes!!

  4. Ceiling looks great. Love the fireplace hearth also.
    I saw on instagram that you installed fretwork inside the house. You should post that here also. Many of you viewers on here aren’t on instagram. It was so interesting to view.

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