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. Tamara says:

    Thanks for the comments on my ceiling! I think spraying is the way to go. This room is easy to close off from the rest of the house, so I don’t expect it will be a problem. I’m going to have pros putting up drywall in this room soon, so I will leave this painting task in their capable hands.

  2. pam kueber says:

    Thanks, Tamara. Again, note my cautions about what may be in that ceiling. Get with your own properly licensed professional to know what you are dealing with before you start messing with it/disturbing it. If there is asbestos, I do not know that it’s as easy as taping off the room — much more serious precautions may be necessary. Again: Get with an expert.

  3. Mary Elizabeth says:

    One other possibility is that this is a textured wallpaper that was applied over smooth plaster or sheetrock with careful attention to pattern matching. I have seen such wallpapers painted over in older homes, and they even sell a new version at the big box home stores expressly designed to be painted. Your professional paint company should definitely come out and examine. (It would help if he or she is a senior citizen who has been working in the field for decades.)

  4. Jennifer says:

    Oh, wouldn’t it be wonderful to “color” this ceiling, like one of the all-the-rage coloring books! Yes, scaffolding, neck-cricks, etc. But still–just imagine looking up at a garden!

  5. Cindy says:

    Is this plaster work? Our house has patterns in the ceiling plaster. Each bedroom has a different design but its not quite this intricate. We painted over it with regular house paint and the people before us obviously did too because it was an awful shade of 80’s aqua. It doesn’t look like I can attach a picture here?

  6. Brooke says:

    I didn’t think I was giving advice, simply warning someone not to accidentally bump the ceiling. I wasn’t suggesting she remove it, obviously testing should be done by a professional and if she was removing it to get it done properly.

    Regular ceiling paint […edited…] (though again, obviously you should talk to a professional).

  7. Melissa L. says:

    I have a patterned ceiling in my dining room, but I’m pretty sure that mine is just embossed wall paper that has been painted or was white to begin with. The design on my ceiling is shallower than yours and the texture is smoother. The close-up of your design looks a lot more like the design was stamped onto the plaster itself.
    I’ve never had to paint my ceiling so I can’t give you any advice on how to do it.

  8. Eileen says:

    When I was a kid, my father showed me a paint roller made to be used with texture paint that had a design of flowers & leaves. Supposedly, you could just roll on the texture paint with the roller and get something similar to this ceiling. This one looks as if it had been done with a sand texture paint. As far as I know, these were latex-base. We had bought some for a particular project in the 70’s. If that is what this is, a fairly thin layer of regular latex based paint would work to brighten it.

  9. Jane Err says:

    Asbestos and/or lead are supposed to be disclosed to the seller before purchase. But as we know, that doesn’t always happen. I agree with the others- talk to your neighbors and confer with a pro!

    The ceiling is gorgeous! I hope we get to see “after” pictures of the room! The coolest ceilings I’ve ever seen were in a 50’s/60’s ranch where we went to buy a hard-to-find camera for my hubby, and each room had a different hand-done pattern, like a starburst/sun-ray from the center light to the edges of the room, or a a border done around the perimeter of the room and around the light. I wish I took pictures; each room was unique and even more awesome! But I can’t remember if there was a flowered ceiling. Your room is going to be so much fun to decorate!

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