Beautiful examples of exposed ceilings and some things to consider.

Mikkel AdsbolImage Mikkel Adsbol

We’ve been discussing a lot lately how we want to treat our exposed ceiling beams. The big question is whether we want to expose the joists as well.

The above photo shows a traditional configuration of exposed beams and joists which has been plastered in between in the spaces. It’s also in the traditional dark wood color you see in a lot of Normand homes.

While I love the look of dark wood beams, some think that the dark wood makes the room dank and the ceiling feel lower.  My main concern here, however, is that this open treatment will not provide enough sound and heat insulation between the floors.


Another possibility, like shown above, is to use dry wall between the joists. The look is cleaner and some additional insulation can be added. This image is actually drywall under the floor boards, so it’s not really the technique we’d use if we went with this option. As our joists are very narrowly spaced, applying drywall between each of the joists just seems like a LOT of work.

However, seeing the joists is beautiful and we might use this option for the main living space. Also, a splash of color between the joists like the yellow below could be fun too.

saraessexbradley5   ac3c50112742f3d8ee83c6c48c1cbde5 Left: Image Sara Essex Bradley | Right: Interior design Axel Vervoordt

Another color option we see a lot of lately is white. When done in a distressed manner like below, it can be quite beautiful and add to the perceived height of the ceiling.

Axel VervoordtInterior design Axel Vervoordt

Now, the other easier option would be to just dry wall between the support beams. This means that we would be covering up the joists. Aside from being simpler to install, it has the added benefit of being able to further house insulation and electrical work. The image below left  also looks like the beams were treated with oxalic acid which gives them a grey, almost driftwood like appearance.

7ef44d4b4146fa000b55d12abd23da23  saraessexbradley26   Left: Image Brigitta Wolfgang Drejer via Australian Design Review | Right: Image Sara Essex Bradley

Or instead of dry wall we could cover up the joists with wood slats.

stainless stell kitchen with white washed exposed beams Magdalena Bjornsdotter

In the end, our ceiling might resemble something like below. Though maybe not that color.

cuisine-aurelie-mathigotEric Flogny via Marie Claire Maison

I really, really like the treatment below. Noma restaurant in Copenhagen is a 3 time number 1 champ from The World’s 50 best Restaurants list. I really like the color of the wood and the use of bulb lights between the beams instead of the usual imbedded spotlights. Those chairs are awesome too.

da634472e5747436b0691fc0db31ad49 Noma restaurant. Image via Sochictravels

Some informative tutorials (in French):

And some interesting forum discussions (in English):

  • Discussion on painting beams, exposing beams and what products to use from Mumsnet.
  • Great technical advice from commentators at Old House Web.

To see our ceiling in its raw state, check out the above post.

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  1. UPDATE: We are exposing everything on main living floor with plaster between joists. Drywall will go between beams on the floor with bedrooms.

  2. Elle Belle

     /  March 15, 2014

    everything sounds very good to me and now, i really do not know the above comment i left some time ago is right? and i believe that you will make sound decision at the end.

  3. Elle Belle

     /  May 25, 2013

    for the ceiling light bulbs, It is ok for the restaurant because rest of the decor is spars…
    but in homes people do have lots of things no matter how restrain one is.
    there for adding light bulbs will be too busy!


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