Ideas for a Cabin Ceiling

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Wood beams across a cabin celing that is painted white with light fixtures.
Wood beams across a cabin celing that is painted white with light fixtures. (Image: amoklv/iStock/Getty Images)

The lovely cabin in the woods or mountains or by the lake has your full attention when you begin to decorate. The bunk beds, the antique wood-burning stove, the collection of fishing flies artfully arranged over the rustic mantel, the braided rugs -- every item is selected to emphasize the snug, relaxed, country ambiance that makes even a weekend stay feel like a full vacation. But, look up. Don't ignore the ceiling when you're creating that perfect cabin.

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Woods Work

Clad every inch of ceiling in knotty pine and enjoy the natural character of the humble wood. Pine is durable, definitely country, and adapts to clean, modern decor as well as classic folk art and rustic treatments. Protecting the ceiling with a clear glossy finish bounces light around the rooms. A duller clear finish reveals the markings in the wood but preserves a more natural appearance. Weathered, reclaimed wood is another clever and environmentally friendly choice. Old boards and beams covering the ceiling frame hanging bunches of dried herbs, mounted fishing gear, or vintage pendant lamps made from salvaged industrial materials or antique kitchenware.

Let There Be White

Typical cabins are small, dark and often low-ceilinged. You don't live in the Middle Ages, so skip the peasant-hut vibe and open things up with a couple of coats of white paint on the ceilings throughout your cabin. Whitewashed ceilings over white beadboard or paneled walls make every tiny cabin feel airy and expansive. Leave smoke-blackened old dark beams in place for historic detail, highlighted against the white ceiling. Keep the gloss factor the same for walls and ceiling with all-white paint. Mix it up with varicolored walls by slicking high-gloss white on the ceiling and trim to reflect more light on chalky matte or milk paint on the walls.

Tobacco Road Tin Types

A shabby cabin is a deliberate recreation of the charm of times gone by -- without the hardships, extreme heat and bone-chilling cold that defined much of rustic and rural housing. Sheath the ceiling inside with corrugated tin or flat panels of slightly rusted tin veneer. Real tin is slow to rust. The impression you want is a duller finish in a gray shade, rather than something shiny and chrome-like. A bit of faux rust just adds character, but remember the rule: "all things in moderation." Tin ceiling panels supply extra insulation as well as visual appeal and complement walls made of distressed barn wood, hand-painted wood floors, and eclectic furnishings picked up at country yard sales, rural flea markets and antique shops. Extend the tin down the back of the main kitchen wall for a backsplash to harmonize with the farm sink and vintage stove.

Michelangelo Stopped by Here

Paint a mural on a cabin wall and extend it up to and over the entire ceiling. Your retreat in the forest has a forest scene with a river, animals and birds, trees and a blue sky to bring the outside in, even during inclement weather. The girls' loft bedroom under the gables is a fairy tale enchantment of mushroom houses, butterflies and flowers, winged fairies, shy woodland creatures and tents of trailing vines. The dining room, especially one in an open-plan cabin, is set apart with a painting of a Wild West saloon sitting in front of majestic mountains purpling in a vivid orange sunset that spills across the ceiling in a wash of tangerine and pink, scored by a wedge of migrating geese. With that much going on, you can skip the framed art for the walls.

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