Should You Paint Wood Beams

Q: My home has wood ceilings and dark wood beams. The ceilings give the house a very rich look, however it tends to make the rooms very dark, and it seems there is never enough lighting. How do I decorate to brighten the rooms and what type of lighting do you recommend?

A: Many consider it sacrilege to paint wood paneling/wainscoting but I do not.

Painting over dark wood paneling, including wood ceilings, transforms a room.

Wood ceilings and beams can give a very informal, country lodge feeling to your room which may not be your preference. Painting the ceilings and beams will not only lighten up the entire room, but give it more formality, the look often achieved with current day plaster ceilings. Consider first painting the walls with a layer of BIN, a great primer for dark wood (and various stains), then follow with two coats of Benjamin Moore's Atrium white, which has just the slightest hint of pink to the walls. The effect will be more like that which is achieved with a pink tinted light bulb: a soft rosy cast.

Of course, you can make a more dramatic statement by painting both the ceilings and the wood beams one color and the walls another darker color. Consider a light butternut yellow on the ceiling and two shades darker on the walls. If your ceilings are unusually high and you want to minimize the cavernous feeling, reverse the colors. Put the deeper color on the ceilings and the lighter hues on the walls.

Recessed lighting is the best fix for any rooms lacking natural light. Because they are installed flush to the ceiling, the effect is clean and uncluttered. They also come in a variety of finishes, such as brushed aluminum, white, gold etc. to match any décor. If your contractor says recessed lighting is not possible due to your ceiling construction, track lighting is a fine alternative. While tracks are more obvious than recessed lighting, if strategically placed on your beams (with the heads directionalized up toward the ceiling) track lighting actually bathes the room in light. It gives the illusion of a canopy of light, which is just the effect you want to achieve. And the track lights of today are not your mother's track lights! No more heads the size of footballs. Both track and recessed lighting allow you to use either flood or spot lights as their bulbs, the latter allowing you to highlight a favorite painting or portrait. And use dimmer switches which give you the luxury of changing your lighting when you change your mood.

One more suggestion is the use of wall sconces. They can be placed flanking a fireplace or on a large wall where your couch resides. All of these lighting suggestions are preferable to adding several table lamps, which just don't wash the room in light the way up-lighting does. Not to mention you have to have the room to add extra tables to hold the table lamps!

A final note: you may find it fascinating to pick up a book by Terah Kathryn Collins called "Home Design with Feng Shui A-Z." Among the hundreds of books written on the subject of Feng Shui, this one tells you just what you need to know about correcting your home's imperfections, without any fluff. The principles of Feng Shui, after all, believe that overhead beams add a sense of danger and heaviness over your head. Once you've tackled your beams, read on and learn other wonderful ways to bring beauty and serenity to your nest.

www.homesteader.com

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