Text Tamsin Oxford

Some rooms and homes have an almost magnetic quality. You walk in and something inside the space has an effect on you, often staying with you long after you’ve gone. It’s not the chairs or the stairs or the cushions or the covers. It’s an ineffable something that your finger can’t point to, unless you look up…

Photograph: Bronwyn Greeff

The humble ceiling. Usually encased in white, sometimes pressed and occasionally wrapped in fabric and colour. Look up and ask yourself, is your ceiling catching your imagination or could it do with a little zing to make it sparkle? We ask the experts how you can transform your ceiling from bland to mind-blowing.

“If you have budget, consider updating the cornices or installing a pressed or trellis effect on a ceiling,” says Michael Chandler, Chandler House. “These can be pricey, but they are worth every cent. They add interest and texture in the way of shadows and soften what is often a large and stark area of the room.”

Treat cornice shopping the same way you would shirt shopping. Go for one size too big rather than one size too small – nothing looks sadder than a thin little cornice overshadowed in the corner of a large and beautifully proportioned room.

“Most ceilings are white for a practical reason – they reflect light so they make the most of the light source in the room,” says Nicole Chowles, The D Word. “There is, however, a misconception that colour can make a room smaller. This is totally false – dark colours can add depth to a room, so if you want to make your ceilings look taller, paint them a different colour.”

Chowles recommends balancing the natural and artificial light in the room with the colour, ensuring that the dark colours don’t dominate. She also suggests investing in lights that accentuate the room and add some personal flair.

“Downlights may be practical, but they have no personality,” she says. “Adding one beautiful pendant will create a feature and add value to your property as a permanent fixture.”

Chandler has a slightly different take on the lighting situation. “I recently removed the built-in lights I had in my ceiling. They pull eyes away from your carefully assembled space and are very unflattering. Instead, have a clean ceiling and invest in standing or table lamps as their gentle light will soften the space, mood and stresses of the day.”

Wait. Before you set out to paint your ceiling blue and walls white to create an ocean vibe, or perhaps indulge in grass-green ceilings with cornices to pop and moods to match, remember who you are and the home you want to live in.

“The first thing to do is to define your home’s style – is it Victorian or Cape Dutch or Sleek mid-century modern?” concludes Chowles. “Once you know this, do some research to find out what you like then turn your ceiling into a work of art. Also, if you have a flaky ceiling that needs replacing, this is a cost-effective way to update it and give it a longer life.”

Image: Nic Baleta