7 Historic Ceilings in Modern Homes That Have Been Beautifully Preserved

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By Kate Reggev / Published by Dwell
These spaces let contemporary design take charge everywhere—except for the ceiling, where history rules the design.

Today, ceilings are often one of the least-considered elements in a space, and are usually acknowledged long after paint colors for the walls have been picked out and flooring has been selected. Historically, however, ceilings were an integral part of a design where structure and design came together in a variety of ways—from vaulted ceilings to painted frescoes. Here, we take a look at several modern renovations in old buildings where historic structural systems have been revealed or original architectural ceiling elements—like plasterwork or tiling—has been restored.

Painted-Wood Beams and Bridging

7 Historic Ceilings in Modern Homes That Have Been Beautifully Preserved - Photo 1 of 7 - An airy haven was created in Toronto for artist Kent Monkman with the help of a painted white wood ceiling with exposed ductwork and original structural cross-bridging.

An airy haven was created in Toronto for artist Kent Monkman with the help of a painted white wood ceiling with exposed ductwork and original structural cross-bridging.

7 Historic Ceilings in Modern Homes That Have Been Beautifully Preserved - Photo 2 of 7 - A 1930s apartment in Barcelona was renovated by Adrian Elizalde, where the architect removed interior walls and an old plaster ceiling, revealing original masonry arch ceiling construction. Covered with a coat of white paint, the ceiling provides subtle texture and pattern to the smooth and neutral white and plywood walls.

A 1930s apartment in Barcelona was renovated by Adrian Elizalde, where the architect removed interior walls and an old plaster ceiling, revealing original masonry arch ceiling construction. Covered with a coat of white paint, the ceiling provides subtle texture and pattern to the smooth and neutral white and plywood walls.

7 Historic Ceilings in Modern Homes That Have Been Beautifully Preserved - Photo 3 of 7 - New York–based architect Andrew Franz undertook the renovation of a landmark circa-1884 former soap warehouse in Tribeca that was originally designed by George W. DaCunha in the Romanesque Revival style. Franz reorganized and modernized the six-story building—which retains its original 16-foot beam ceilings, brick walls, timber columns, and elevator winches from the former freight shaft—by incorporating steel, glass, handmade tile, and lacquer to complement the masonry and heavy timber. An interior courtyard and rectangular mezzanine are situated below the original 16-foot gull-wing ceiling planes.

New York–based architect Andrew Franz undertook the renovation of a landmark circa-1884 former soap warehouse in Tribeca that was originally designed by George W. DaCunha in the Romanesque Revival style. Franz reorganized and modernized the six-story building—which retains its original 16-foot beam ceilings, brick walls, timber columns, and elevator winches from the former freight shaft—by incorporating steel, glass, handmade tile, and lacquer to complement the masonry and heavy timber. An interior courtyard and rectangular mezzanine are situated below the original 16-foot gull-wing ceiling planes.

7 Historic Ceilings in Modern Homes That Have Been Beautifully Preserved - Photo 4 of 7 - In the architect's own home in Bratislava, Lukáš Kordík took advantage of his 1930s apartment's undulating, raw-concrete ceiling by exposing it. Contrasting with pops of color throughout the apartment, the structural vaults provide textures and an industrial flair to create a unique space.

In the architect's own home in Bratislava, Lukáš Kordík took advantage of his 1930s apartment's undulating, raw-concrete ceiling by exposing it. Contrasting with pops of color throughout the apartment, the structural vaults provide textures and an industrial flair to create a unique space.

Exposed-Brick Tiles

7 Historic Ceilings in Modern Homes That Have Been Beautifully Preserved - Photo 5 of 7 - In the Catalonia region of Spain, architecture firm Fake Industries Architectural Agonism in concert with Aixopluc created a house that combines industrially manufactured components with a handmade, Catalonian vaulted-brick roof.

In the Catalonia region of Spain, architecture firm Fake Industries Architectural Agonism in concert with Aixopluc created a house that combines industrially manufactured components with a handmade, Catalonian vaulted-brick roof.


Exposed Poured-in-Place Concrete

7 Historic Ceilings in Modern Homes That Have Been Beautifully Preserved - Photo 6 of 7 - In a converted industrial loft in Brooklyn designed by Ksenya Samarskaya, the exposed poured-concrete ceiling and its texture were the result of trial and error efforts to achieve an effect that expressed both character and history.

In a converted industrial loft in Brooklyn designed by Ksenya Samarskaya, the exposed poured-concrete ceiling and its texture were the result of trial and error efforts to achieve an effect that expressed both character and history.

7 Historic Ceilings in Modern Homes That Have Been Beautifully Preserved - Photo 7 of 7 - The historic vaulted ceilings were carefully restored by Morris Adjmi Architects in the renovation of the ROOST Apartment Hotel in Philadelphia. They contrast with the modern herringbone wood flooring, plush furniture selection, and clean lines of the built-in shelving and fireplace.

The historic vaulted ceilings were carefully restored by Morris Adjmi Architects in the renovation of the ROOST Apartment Hotel in Philadelphia. They contrast with the modern herringbone wood flooring, plush furniture selection, and clean lines of the built-in shelving and fireplace.

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