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Jim McClain
Small space, ceiling with beams

I live in a converted garage. Ceiling is 8'2". The main room is 11'6" x 19'. I love the look of painted beams and want to add them to my current dwelling. The beams will be constructed similarly to these:

Because my room is small, I will be using a light color (either a cool blue or green) on the walls. I think it would be best to paint the ceiling and the beams a warm white, but I am here looking for more experienced opinions. I have also been considering using a 3½" trim board all around the top of the walls - the beams are the same height - and painting it white. This could have the effect of making the ceiling look larger? I'm asking.

My plan is to also had height to the room by having 3½" columns "supporting" each beam on one wall (a 19' wall with no windows or doors), also painted the warm white trim color. I would hang artwork between the columns - the columns and beams are spaced 30" apart. Here is an illustration of what I have in mind:

Sorry, I can't master illustrating in more perspective. :(

Your thoughts and opinions would be appreciated.

Best R'gards,


Re: Small space, ceiling with beams

Wow, almost 500 views and not a single reply. Where's all the people with opinions or expertise? Disappointing.

Well, here is what happened. It took me over 7 months to do my 2 week remodeling project. I have to contend with lung disease that saps my energy and stamina, but I am very proud of how it has turned out. I'm still not quite finished, but the ceiling beams are done and the columns on the wall are also.

I started by ripping a 1x6" pine board exactly in half. This would be the cleat that held the beams to the ceiling and the center portion of the boxed beam. I had to cut the cleats to shorter lengths to make it easier for me to attach them to the ceiling. After trial and error, I found that gluing and cross-nailing the boards was the best for me. I used Gorilla Glue and 2" finish nails shot from a pneumatic nail gun. Cross-nailing is just a method that provides a little bit of grip, since I was unable to nail directly into a support, like a ceiling joist. It's just 2 nails across from each other and pointing toward each other - like in an "X" pattern.

Click any image for a larger view.

The box beam itself was constructed of MDF for the sides and the ripped pine board for the center. I nailed one side and the center together and then nailed it to the cleat. Then I nailed the other side onto the cleat. To get the center nailed onto the second side and still have a proper ⅛" reveal, I used a small pry bar slipped between the pieces to adjust the center board. At the ends, where I couldn't use the pry bar, I drove a drywall screw part way into the bottom face of the center board and used that as a handle to make adjustments while I nailed. I removed the screw and filled the hole with caulking compound, which I also used to fill any gaps before primer and paint.

Click any image for a larger view.

The columns are made from 1x2" MDF trim boards sandwiched by some ½ x ¾" base shoe molding. I've hung one of my photographs over the sofa, but the plan is to hang my photographs between each column. The columns are only along the one wall, which is also painted a shade darker than the other walls.

I love the way it looks. I posted for help on this on other forums too. I don't understand why I didn't receive any real help. It's not like this is all that innovative. My hope now is that other people looking for ideas or help in doing this will find this topic and maybe be inspired to do it themselves. If a guy with only about a fifth of normal lung function left can do it, so can just about anyone.

Best R'gards,


Re: Small space, ceiling with beams

I'm new here and have gotten some pretty sound advice. Not sure why no responses :(

My thoughts at first were I like the idea but it would make the room feel slightly smaller to me. After seeing the pics, I feel the same. If you like the space with your beams in it then I say good job! It looks great. I like the colors, they go well with the furnishings. As for white paint making the ceiling look larger. Not in general but in some applications sure. The pics you posted are a great example. One reason that helps is is the trim board you chose. Depending on the ceilings, different trim can have different effects. A crown for example would have reduced the actual sq footage of the ceiling and of course be easily noticeable. I think most people see a bright white ceiling as "big" anyway. Big white ceilings, we've all heard those words. I have also seen colored ceilings with a slightly and strategicly placed colored border with the rest [border to center] painted a lighter shade. That's one of the fun parts of my job. I get to be an illusionist sometimes.

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