Ask Michelangelo: To wallpaper a ceiling, it helps to be an artist

October 30, 2009|By ROSE BENNETT GILBERT / Creators Syndicate

Q: We have a quirky room, a sun porch with six, large arched windows and a cove ceiling - lots of different angles. I would like to wallpaper the ceiling, too, but I don't know how to handle the curves. Any helpful hints?

A: Wallpapering ceilings can be as tricky as the end result can be charming. But it's worth the effort, especially in a fun room as most sun rooms are supposed to be.

One helpful hint to begin: Choose wallpaper with a nondirectional pattern, meaning an overall design like scattered flowers, trelliswork, paisleys or stripes. Otherwise, at least from one angle, you will inevitably end up looking at something upside down on the ceiling.

The pictured sitting room celebrates stripes. Big, bold and fabulously cheerful, the yellow stripes arch overhead like a circus tent. Doubtless, the wallpaper was installed by a professional - although hanging today's user-friendly wallpaper is easy enough on a flat side wall - you need experience to make things come right when you're working overhead against gravity. Ask Michelangelo!


In this sunny setting, the center ceiling has been left white, but it would have been easy to carry on with the stripes. Notice that the club chair does carry on with the stripe theme. The touch of red, repeated in the wing chair's cushion, adds "a splash of contrasting color and complementary pattern," according to designer Jean Nayar, author of Filipacchi Publishing's "Staged to Sell (or Keep)," the new book from which we borrowed this inspired ceiling.

Q: What's new from the Furniture Capital of the World?

A: More than most people expected during this down economy when so many homeowners are ignoring the need to refurnish and redecorate.

Just back from High Point, N.C., some 12 million square feet of showroom space, scattered throughout 180 show-room buildings, contained new home furnishings. I can only paraphrase the adage that proclaims, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going in fresh, new directions."

This hard-sell climate made designers and manufacturers reach more deeply into their imaginations and technologies to come up with brighter ideas at better price points. Even when they're manufactured at home - using American-made materials and paying American wages to the craftsmen - many of the furnishing offered quality, value and new ideas capable of prying open even the most conservative consumer's pocketbook.

Take Stickley Furniture, for one example. The company ( dates back to old Gustav Stickley himself at the turn of the 20th century, but under the eye of current owners Aminy Audi and her late husband Alfred (who grew up sleeping in a Stickley bed), it has fast-forwarded Stickley's Mission style into today's hippest rooms.

The new Metropolitan Collection of occasional tables is a contemporary take on Arts & Crafts, made modern with reverse-tapered, splayed walnut legs locked through beveled cherry tops. The suggested price tag is $1,799, which buys you a 21st-century heirloom.

Prefer a table handed down from the 19th century? New to the High Point Market from LaGrange, Ga., the Tritter Feefer Home Collection combines European styling with American handcraftsmanship - often recycling old woods and furniture parts into pieces that come with vintage patina already in place. Their Corbel Console is a narrow but shapely slab of poplar and maple with a retail tag of $1,895. Named for the founders' grandchildren, Tristan and Faith, Tritter & Feefer begs a visit at

Rose Bennett Gilbert is the co-author of "Hampton Style" and associate editor of Country Decorating Ideas.

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