4 ways to discover the design potential of the '5th wall'

4 ways to discover the design potential of the '5th wall'

(BPT) - With autumn just a few short weeks away, many people will soon spend less time on the patio and more time within four walls. Actually, five walls if...

(BPT) - With autumn just a few short weeks away, many people will soon spend less time on the patio and more time within four walls. Actually, five walls if you include the ceiling.

Many homeowners don't consider ceilings part of their interior design, and it shows. Most are expanses of bland white paint. But savvy do-it-yourselfers are converting these blank canvases into interesting and functional design elements that can accent a room's decor, create a cozier space or disguise problems commonly found on this fifth wall.

The best news: Updating a ceiling is one of the easiest and budget-friendly ways to freshen a space. All the recent attention on ceilings - from both professional designers and DIY-ers - has prompted the creation of new products and project ideas.

Dana Vento, DIY expert and popular home renovation blogger, recommends tackling a ceiling project that can be quickly and easily finished over the weekend. Here are her tips to boost your home's value while achieving DIY gratification this fall:

* Warm up with wood. There's a reason wood flooring is so popular - it tends to warm up a room and add character. The same goes for ceilings. Real or engineered wood panels can extend your sense of style in any room. That's because they come in a wide range of tones, textures and patterns to suit any decorating style, from rustic to mid-century modern to sleek contemporary.

* Go beyond plain vanilla. For those who want to add a splash of color, the ceiling holds special allure. Painting the ceiling the same color as the walls (or one shade lighter) can make a small room feel larger. A bright color, say yellow or pink, could enliven a child's room, while a sky blue ceiling creates a more soothing ambiance. Black ceilings have their own design advantages, dramatically defining a dining area in an open floor plan, for instance, or enhancing the enveloping atmosphere of a home theater.

* Love the look of metals? Add some character and shimmer to your ceiling. Consider today's pressed metal ceiling tiles. They're far easier to install than their antique ancestors, and the light-bouncing properties of copper, brass and lacquered steel can help raise the ceiling visually in any room.

* Hide the popcorn. Even confident DIY-ers don't relish the idea of scrapping popcorn ceilings to remove the material and then deal with the messy cleanup. But now there's an easier and more attractive fix, Vento says.

'We took the plunge and installed an Armstrong Woodhaven plank ceiling, which can be applied directly over the popcorn,' she says. Like wood, Woodhaven planks come in different finishes, and can also be painted.

Vento recommends homeowners start thinking about their ceiling by exploring websites for ideas. A good place for inspiration is www.armstrong.com/residential-ceilings/ceiling-inspiration.html which has hundreds of examples including some interesting before and after photos.

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