Lately it seems beams are a regular topic with my clients. I just worked on a renovation in Memorial where we added a few reclaimed beams to a family room ceiling for some rustic charm, my in-laws are designing a house and asked me the other day about options for beams in their great room, a new project I'm starting on also wants reclaimed beams on their living room ceiling... so they've been on my mind so much lately I thought I'd work through some of my ideas here on the blog.
Reclaimed beams have to be my favorite, and especially here in Texas where people love a little bit of rustic charm. I don't go overboard with the rustic-ness though, if you have reclaimed beams that's about all the room will need and they become a great backdrop for a mix of furniture styles. I'm working on a modern farmhouse in New Braunfels that's just in the design development stages with an amazingly creative architect, Patrick Winn of TADA. We have been pinning lots of ideas to our secret board (sorry wish I could share), but this house that was featured in both Lonny and AD is high up on our inspiration board. I especially love this breakfast table in the kitchen with panoramic views, a long window seat, and gorgeous rough-hewn beams.
This room by Tom Scheerer was lucky enough, and old enough (18th century homestead on Long Island), to have original interior beams. Tom infused just enough country charm with the scalloped skirt on the crewelwork covered wing back chairs, the primitive side tables and ladder back chairs without being too granny or predictable. I adore the hints of purple on the pillows and in the quilted cotton on the sofa; the parchment coffee table, brass swing arm sconces, green ceramic garden stool and teal velvet foot stool from different periods create a timeless space... such a great mix from one of my favorite decorators. If you don't have his book, I highly recommend it!
So what do you do if you have ugly beams or can't afford or find old ones? Fake it 'til you make it!
I've run into this issue (ugly existing beams that is) on a few jobs here in Houston and immediately called on my favorite faux finish expert - Leslie Sinclair of Segreto Finishes. This client's family room was big and bright, but the previous owner had installed dark stained beams (along with a very scary gothic chandelier which my client had to take out as soon as she moved in) that were too heavy for my client's taste. So I brought in Leslie's guys to transform them and try to recreate a reclaimed look. The results are much lighter and pretty and with all of the tones and highlights they added, there's much more depth and interest in them now.
Another even easier option would be to just slap some paint on ugly beams! A fresh coat of white is a great option like this large living space by Brooke Giannetti. If your beams have a lot of beautiful knots and imperfections, I would do a white-wash so you can still see some of those details coming through, otherwise a flat white paint would be bright and clean.
As everyone knows, I adore color, so in this large great room on a lake in Connecticut, I had my client's trusses painted a dark green, Benjamin Moore's Vintage Vogue 462 to be exact. I love the white washed pine ceiling so we left that alone and we painted the white paneling on the walls a softer shade of green, Benjamin Moore's Sage Tint 458 to infuse more color and a cozy feeling.
Sadly, I haven't been back up to the house in a while, but here's a little sneak peak into the room that my client sent along after an install. It was such an amazing transformation, I need to get up there and photograph it!
I love this room in Furlow Gatewood's home with the bright green beams and trim. It really brightens up an otherwise very traditional room.