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Paint a Faux
Tray Ceiling Illusion
Create the illusion of shadow using darker colors against lighter ones.
Your flat, boring ceiling will suddenly have style.

One thing that can make a room feel dark and claustrophobic is a low ceiling. And the bigger the room, the lower the ceiling is likely to feel. It is true, that low ceilings reduce the cost of heating by giving warm air very little space to rise.
But wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could have the best of both worlds—both the grandeur of a high tray ceiling and the functionality of an ordinary, eight foot flat cover.

There is a way to cheat reality, by creating an inexpensive tray ceiling illusion.

It comes down to what the eye thinks it is seeing. If right now you look up at your ceiling and see a wide, flat space, that space looks all the bigger for being unbroken, a solid wide stretch. Therefore, the first thing to do is to reduce the size of your ceiling—visually, with a painted illusion. Here's how I did it.
Paint a fake tray ceiling on your flat ceiling
Sketching Your Tray Ceiling:

Take a big book, like a world atlas, and place it in a corner on the ceiling. If the book is too heavy, you can cut its shape out of cardboard and use this as your stencil. Now trace a line along the side of the book or stencil. Then move the book or stencil along and keep tracing the line. When you’re done, you will have created a line all around your ceiling, at a distance of about one foot from the walls.

Now, you’ll need to repeat this step, but instead of placing the book or stencil against the wall, you will place it along the first line you have drawn. When you’re done, you will have a second line, about one foot away from the first line, and running all around your ceiling.

That’s it. You have sketched your tray ceiling. Depending on the size of your room, you may want to make the stencil or book bigger or smaller.

Making the Sketch Two-Dimensional:

By painting in your sketched ceiling you will now give it a two-dimensional feel. Your color choices will vary depending on the illusion you wish to create:

If the ceiling feels very low: you can create the illusion that the walls are taller by using the same color as the walls for the first section you sketched on the ceiling. Then use a darker color for the middle section. And finally fill in the central section with a light color (lighter than the walls).

If the room is very large: your ceiling might feel terribly big and oppressive. In that case, paint the first section you sketched on the ceiling with a dark solid color, to give the impression of a shadowy area. Then paint the middle section with the same color as the walls. And finally fill in the central section with a light color (lighter than the walls).

For the illusion to work well, it is important to choose colors from the same palette, with slight variations of shade. If the walls are white, then choose very light colors. When you’re finished you will see that the painted ceiling now gives the impression that it is higher than it really is, and even smaller, if you chose step two above. The room will look more beautiful and feel more cozy. Like the painters of old, you will have recreated reality with a brush and paint bucket.

Questions? Comments? Drop me a line.
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 © Inventive Home Improvement, 2011