Editors' Picks: Old-House Ceilings

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Our editors highlight new and classic articles, along with favorite products and current bookstore sales. This week, make a statement on the ceiling.
These days, we tend not to give much thought to ceilings, perhaps because the unappealing pockmarked ceiling tiles of modern industrial buildings have conditioned us to studiously ignore what's overhead. But it wasn't always like this—back in the 18th, 19th, and even 20th centuries, the ceiling was considered just as worthy of decoration as any surface in the house, and was routinely outfitted with wallpaper, decorative panels, or fancy medallions. Whether you're looking to restore existing ceiling ornamentation or bring your house back to its glory days by re-creating what was once there, these three articles will help answer all your questions on the realm above.

Plaster? The dome ceiling is embellished with J.P. Weaver's pliable "Petitsin" compo ornaments. The small medallion is Focal Point's egg-and-dart pattern #833 in polyurethane.

Plaster Ceiling Repair: Learn to repair a plaster ceiling with these easy tips and techniques.

New Options for Decorative Ceilings:

On the surprising affordability of trim pieces, ornaments, and onlays in plaster, compo, urethane, and wood.

Ceilings Pressed in Time:

A look at the history and manufacturing of decorative metal ceilings explains their appeal at the turn of the last century, as well as today.

Centers of Attention:

When choosing a plaster medallion, let old-fashioned advice and common sense be your guide.

New This Week

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A Cook's Country Kitchen:

Despite two centuries of change, character remains intact in this 1812 house, where a peculiar room with a hearth in the middle became a stunning family kitchen.

Gardens of Colonial Virginia:

The many gardens at Williamsburg are a primary source for colonial and revival designs.

English in America:

Classic English furniture reproduced in America

Products & Services Directory


Victorian Pressed Tin Tiles, $9 for a 2 ft x 2 ft sheet


Chelsea Decorative Metal

Whether you're looking to decorate your entire ceiling or just your backsplash, these tin tiles made of tin plated steel are an affordable option for a do-it-yourself project. Both




instructions are available online. Also available:

Art Deco Pressed Tin Tiles


Turn of the Century Pressed Tin Tiles

View all

Ornamental Ceilings

in the Products & Services Directory.

Bookstore Sales

On sale until May 31!

Check out these sales and other great deals

in our Old-House bookstore!

Everything you need to know about adding the right finishing touches to your home-improvement or new construction project can be found in this book.


This book is full of more than 400 top notch ideas for a range of styles and sizes of kitchens. Learn how to make smart choices about what you really want in your kitchen. By Beth Veillette. Paperback. 234 pages.


This book serves as a useful introduction to kitchen design, and an inspirational visual reference for homeowners considering their own custom projects.

Editors' Picks

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Products of the Week

A pendant light over the door adds a stately touch to the ubiquitous Victorian porch; Brass Light Gallery’s London Lantern mimics the design of 19th-century streetlights.

Brass Light Gallery

Interior and exterior architectural lighting for your home and garden, in styles from Victorian to '30s Modern. Select from 15 finish options. Made in USA since 1974. They also have a vintage/antique lighting department, and offer expert restoration services.


Unico System

A central heating and cooling system using "aspiration" technology to warm and cool homes evenly and quietly with flexible small ducts that weave through ceilings, walls, and even floors.