Though hard to reach, ceilings have long been the beneficiary of artistic design. There's the Sistine Chapel ceiling, the ceiling of the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, and the dome of the Library of Congress, just to name a handful of more famous examples.
But it's not just palaces and government buildings that are giving special attention to the surfaces overhead. Such splendor can also be found in private homes.
"More effort is being given to the ceiling," says Elizabeth Franklin, chief executive of The Franklin Report, an online guide to home and lifestyle services. "Ceilings have become a place for artistic expression. They are creating interest in rooms."
Brian J. McCarthy, a New York decorator, once placed the reproduction of a painting by 18th century Venetian artist Giovanni Battista Tiepolo on the two-story-high entryway ceiling of a home near the north shore of Long Island, N.Y.
For room décor to succeed, adds Franklin, "You need to have one or three items of intense interest, preferably three, like three legs of a stool. The ceiling now has become one of them."
Here are five homes where ceilings are an eye-catching design element:
Suffolk, United Kingdom
London-based dRMM Architects took ceilings to new heights with the design of this one-of-a-kind private home. Residents of the home — which is made up of three buildings: a glazed house, office/studio and garage — can change the look overhead with the push of a button.
It may sound like science fiction but the technology is pretty straightforward. The home has an exterior casing, set on a track system and powered by car batteries, that slides across the site, covering or exposing the buildings as desired. This 20-ton, movable shell is made of steel, wood and insulation and glides along recessed railway tracks. What's more, the unique architecture enables control over heating and cooling loads by designating which areas are covered and exposed throughout different seasons.