Custom-Look Coffers

Who: Jenika Kurtz
Where: Los Angeles, Ca.

The "cottage cheese" plaster ceiling in the living room of Jenika Kurtz’s 1944 bungalow just had to go. Envisioning elegant coffers instead, Jenika set about turning her daydream into a reality. Working with her boyfriend, Robert, with whom she shares the house, and her father, Ken, the trio devised a plan incorporating stock lumber arranged in a grid. After testing to ensure the ceiling didn’t contain asbestos (often added to spray-on plaster from the 1940s and 1950s), they scraped off the nubby surface, skim-coated with a fresh layer of plaster to make it smooth, and snapped chalk lines. Next, they built hollow U-shaped "beams" using 1×4s that nail onto 2×8 mounting strips fastened to the ceiling. The face of the beams is recessed between the side walls to create a reveal, and the beams’ inside edges are detailed with 3⁄4-inch cove moldings for a finished look. "Before, the room was a box," Jenika says. "With the coffered ceiling, we really made it special."
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