November 16, 2011

Decorative Kitchen Ceiling Beams

For the most part, our plans for remodeling our kitchen focus on repair, function, and practicality. Some things though, are purely decorative. One thing we liked in the various kitchen idea books, was the look of ceiling beams.

Initially, we liked the idea of four, 4x6 beams, evenly spaced across the ceiling. When we considered price and weight, we turned to 4x4s. We also looked into faux beams, but woo-wee, those are expensive. In the end, we settled on four, 2x6s, to give the look of exposed ceiling joists.

Here's how the ceiling looked as we got started....

Before. Eventually that entire wall will be torn down, but for now,
only the top several courses of tongue & groove boards were removed

We figured we would space the "joists" at 27 inch intervals so that they would be visually symmetrical. What we hadn't realized, was how uneven our ceiling is. Not just sloping, but it bows and dips in several different places. When we held a board flush and level to the ceiling, there were gaps of up to an inch and a half against the wall in some places. Ah, the remodeling joys of a 90 year old house.

1st two decorative 2x6 "joists" in place.

Tearing down and re-doing the ceiling was not an option, so the next best thing, was to choose the two most level, equidistant places on the ceiling and put two of our "joists" there. The other two went against the outer walls (which were level, amazingly), as you see in the photo above. This meant wider spacing of the "joists," but we figured adapting was the easiest of our choices.

This decision actually solved another problem for us, that of moulding. Our walls and ceiling both, are tongue and groove, and the individual boards make an uneven gap where the walls and ceiling meet. Unlike drywall, which can be taped and gooped, T&G requires moulding to cover that gap. The "joists" against the walls serve as moulding, while giving the look we were going for.

The "joists" were initially toenailed in place, so for additional support, a 2x10 was notched to accommodate them ...

Notches were cut from a 2x10 to fit each of the beams.

... and fitted up against the "joists" and the ceiling like so.....

This is how it looked after we got it up.

This gives an exposed beam look, but also covers the gap where the wall was removed. (The small smooth panel you see in the ceiling, is not attic access. It's too small. We figure it was originally where their cookstove stovepipe went.)

The other side of the room was different however, because of the load bearing beam. This is the beam Dan made from one of our fallen pines, and used to replace the support post in the middle of the room. One of the "joists" had to be attached to this beam, but instead of toenailing or running a spike through the beam, he used pegs made from an oak dowel...

2 dowels were cut to serve as pegs to secure one of the 2x6 beams.

The "joist" had two holes drilled into the end, which slipped onto the pegs.

2x6 decorative "joist" attached to the load bearing beam

And here's how the whole thing looks after the ceiling was painted.....

After. Exterior kitchen wall .....

And on the other side...

After ..... and the opposite wall.

Funny how a project can evolve like that, and all because of unexpected challenges along the way. At least we're learning to simply take these challenges in stride. :)


  1. Leigh - It looks absolutely stunning. Well done to both of you :)

  2. Nice elegant solution and the beams look great!!! The whole remodel looks like it's coming along quite nicely!
    How exciting.

  3. Remodeling your house is like a jigsaw puzzle where you have to make the missing pieces. The picture will be different than the original, but far more interesting.

  4. Looks good and a fine way to cover up that little bit. It's going to look awesome when done. I once had a kitchen with faux beams which I loved. This one though, I've been waffling between putting in beams or a pressed tin ceiling. I'm guessing budget at the time we get to that part of the kitchen will play the deciding factor.

  5. I like that look, unfortunately we didn't have enough headspace for that. I think while doing up an old house you'll come to a stage, where you expect problems and will be surprised if a project goes without hiccups:))

  6. Dani, thank you. I'm really pleased with it. :)

    Theresa, thank you! Your choice of the word "elegant" makes me very happy.

    Benita, good comparison!

    Nina, we like both the look of beams and pressed tin as well. In fact, we figured out we can have both, because of the way the kitchen has been remodeled over the years. The load bearing beam separates the ceiling into a main kitchen and an entry way. The entryway is small, so the cost of tin for it alone is affordable! We've got the panels and moulding, just need to get to that point to put it up.

    Bettina, yes, having higher than normal ceilings was a key factor in this choice. And you're right about getting used to the "surprises," there certainly have been enough of them!

  7. Yup, the word "elegant" is appropriate but I think it can also be described as "country, comfy and cozy."

    Um, Leigh? What are you using as a kitchen right now??

  8. I have been really enjoying your posts on your kitchen remodel but this one, wow, that is just stunning, I like the look alot, can't wait to see what you have planned next..

  9. What a great idea, it adds so much character! You guys really do nice work!

  10. I think I like it better this way than as you had planned. Bonus points for solving the molding problem!

  11. I think that all remodeling projects come with surprises. I know that my hubby had to deal with some when he was putting in the tile back splash on my MIL's would think a house that young would be level. hummm

    So glad you and Dan are creative and great at coming up with ways to make your surprises work so well for you. :D The beams look great!

  12. Mama Pea, thanks! Maybe I can call it "country elegant". LOL

    What am I using as a kitchen now? I'll have to show you. Pics on Friday?

    Farmgal, thanks. It is fun to see it come together.

    CaliforniaGrammy, that's actually it, character. We want it to feel our handprint, we want it to feel like home.

    Sylvanna, I do too, now that it's done. Amazing how that can happen.

    Renee, no house seems to be square and level! At least there was a creative alternative. :)

  13. Love it!! Your solutions are so creative and so useful.

    You also satisfy my urge to buy an old house again and remodel. M thanks you from the bottom of his heart. :-)

  14. It looks simply incredible! What are your other plans for your kitchen and ceiling? I think you need to add a little more color on this so it'll look morelively. I can't wait 'til it's completely done. =)

  15. Cathy, thanks! I know that feeling about old houses to remodel! Being in the thick of things though, I doubt I'll consider another one for quite awhile, LOL

    Badgerpendous and BRF, thanks!

    Chantay, thanks to you too. Plans here, color scheme here.


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