Tamara’s embossed ceiling from the 1960s — have you seen this before?

textured flower print ceilingSo here’s something we’ve never seen before: Tamara’s 1960 ranch house has a unique, embossed flower design seemingly stamped into the ceiling of the dining room. Fantastique! Tamara wants to freshen up the ceiling with a coat of paint  — but first, she’d love to know if anyone has anyone run into a textured ceiling similar to this before so that she can use the correct paint and technique. textured flower print ceiling

Tamara writes:

My 1960 ranch house has an intricate ceiling in the formal dining room. The ceiling material is hard, but rough/porous. The flower & leaf pattern is continuous, as though stamped in. The pattern is embossed deeply into the material. I have never seen anything quite like it. It needs to be painted, but I want to find out exactly what it’s made of before I started rolling on paint. I thought surely I could find some appropriate search terms that would bring up an image on Google. Wrong. I find many plaster ceiling images showing patterns that are shallow, knock-down designs that resemble foliage, but nothing similar to my very crisp, seamless pattern.

textured flower print ceiling

This is a room with no purpose right now, though I assume it was originally the formal dining room. The previous owners used it as a “tv room,” but that’s not a good fit for me. I had planned to use it as a library/game room, but I’m not sure that’s right, either. It’s a fairly big room, 16×20-ish, so I hate to see it used for nothing. Maybe the original purpose is the best use. Regardless, the room has wood paneling which has been painted. I’m considering removing the paneling and going with drywall since the damage is already done. If we’re going to start pulling down paneling, I feel like I need a plan for the ceiling. I’m hoping it’s a simple as some paint and a new light fixture to replace the fan. I’m hoping you or one of your readers has seen something like this. I really want to replace the dowdy ceiling fan with something else and make this nice and white again.

FIRST: Precautionary Pam warns:
Tamara, our vintage homes can contain vintage nastiness such as lead and asbestos — Job #1 with this ceiling should be to get with your own properly licensed professional to determine what this material and the paint is made of, so that if any issues are identified, you can make informed decisions.

Now… back to your question. Pam says that she’s seen a fair number of ceilings troweled with swirlies — many of them quite nice — and of course, we’ve seen ceilings blasted with aluminum glitter — but we have never seen a ceiling as intricately detailed as this. Considering its possible rarity, we certainly suggest you get good professional advice on how to repaint it. We’ll also add — if the house has other high-end finishes throughout, it’s possible the paneling is also nice and worth restoring.

This one: It goes in our woddity category. If we had this ceiling in our house, we’d consider ourselves super lucky (well, once we did the environmental testing and fingers crossed, it cleared!)

Readers, have you ever seen a ceiling like this before?
Can we find any marketing materials?

  1. Judy Gaarde says:

    yes, I have the exact same ceiling in my dining room. We remodeled and added to the home and had the ceiling lightly spray painted to brighten it up. We lost only a slight indentation but not enough to matter. The flowers are dogwood blossoms.

  2. Danielle says:

    My grandparents’ 1960 era home had this same type of texture on the ceiling- although theirs was more of a swirly design rather than flowers. I can remember making pictures out of the designs- kind of like cloud watching. I’m wondering if this was not more commonly done in homes in the south (I’m from Alabama) as their home and another neighbor had an identical ceiling. These were by no means anything other than mid-century (very) modest homes which is why I wonder if they are more common here. I have no advice on how to paint this type of ceiling but was going to suggest that if you have any southern connections they may be the ones to ask. Your ceiling makes me happy and nostalgic.

  3. Jenifer B says:

    I just shared this with my husband who has worked for one of your favorite paint suppliers for over 12 years. He says he would suggest not using latex as a primer because latex is solvated with water. If it’s plaster, it was also solvated in water and you risk re-solvating it and ruining the pattern. An oil-based primer under latex wouldn’t have the same risk.

  4. I would like to add that many painting contractors are not experts. When I was a painter, I relied on the brick and mortar shopfront businesses who supply professional painters with their products such as mixing custom stains, etc. These are the real experts when it comes to paint. If it is plaster, it can be painted with oil or latex. I’d use latex and a primer like Zinsser’s. I don’t like Kilz.

  5. Joe Felice says:

    I’ve never seen such-intricate embossing, either. Evidently, the installer had a sponge that transferred the texture to the mud on the ceiling, but this took a loot of time and care. Back in the day, people did go the extra mile to do cutsey things like this. I doubt you’d find anyone today who would even consider doing something like this. Today, workers want a quick buck–in and out.

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