Don’t Forget to Look Up!

When you’re in an inside space, and you do, you’re going to notice there’s a vast ceiling plane up there that most people never consider when they decorate their San Diego home design imageroom. I could probably walk into 90% of the homes in America (maybe more) and find all the ceilings in the home painted flat white. Why??? The ceiling is the fifth wall of your room, and in some rooms that wall is huge. It’s begging for your attention!


There are so many ways to make an impact on this fifth wall. Here are a few options you might consider to re-energize an existing space or re-imagine an entire room.Ceiling beams interior decoration image


I’ve always loved a good coffered ceiling like this one we installed in a home in San Diego, CA. It turned 800+ square feet of flat ceiling into a great design detail that you absolutely notice.


elizabeth gordonIf you have a Mediterranean, farmhouse or industrial style home, beams are a great option to bring instant age and character to the space. The dark, hand hewn beams we installed in this family room continue to tell the story of the Mediterranean architectural style of this home. Change that out to a light finish, rough sawn beam, and you’ve put yourself into an old factory turned loft.fireside


I love this space by Elizabeth Gordon. She’s used wallpaper and a great mirror to make the ceiling the focal point of this room. Not every client is looking for something outside the box, but wow, when clients allow their designer’s to let loose their creative juices, you get some really stunning results!


The Interior EdgeThis creative ceiling treatment by Fireside Design Build, Inc. begs you to engage your imagination. I see a river when I look up, you may see something different – maybe a wood footbridge spanning a gorge in some remote area of the globe. We did a similar treatment on a hallway ceiling of Valencia United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall to evoke the feeling of following along a path.


artistic designs for living

This bedroom by The Interior Edge is really quite narrow, but using silver leaf on the ceiling adds a level of reflectivity that makes the space feel more expansive, not to mention luxurious.


Paint is a simple way to bring attention to that fifth wall with no added expense. Pink paint doesn’t cost any more than white paint, and you’ve got to paint that ceiling anyway…

In this outdoor room designed by RJohnston Interiors, tongue and groove ceiling planks adds both an outdoor feel and a lot RJohnston-26of warmth to this space. Vaulted ceilings and gables add to the interest as the wood decking changes direction across the ceiling plane.

cynthia mason

To create an outdoor adventure theme to this boy’s bedroom, Cynthia Mason Interiors used fabric, wood, buttons and lacing along with a good dose of imagination.


I  hope I’ve inspired you to think about your ceilings the next time you’re looking for a way to update or redecorate your space. Ceiling planes, unbroken by doors and windows, are often the largest wall in your room and present a huge opportunity for great design. If you’re looking for a way to make your ceilings an integrated part of your décor, but don’t know how, give RJohnston Interiors a call at: 661-678-0034. We’d be happy to help you out!


16 Mar 2016

Have you ever stopped to think about the number of times you move through the hallways of your home?  You head to the kitchen for your morning cup of coffee and once there remember your reading glasses by the side of the bed.  Back down the hallway.  You yell to your teenager to get out of bed and getting no response, head down the hallway to his room for the fourth time that morning.  You’re heading out the door for work and realize you left your suit coat in the closet….

We really use our hallways.  We pass up and down countless times a day.  I’m wondering; do you enjoy moving through that space?  Is there anything in that long passage that makes you smile as you pass by? With all the attention we give to our living rooms, dining rooms and kitchens, maybe we ought to spare just a bit for our hallways.

lighting design exampleGranted it’s a bit hard to get inspired over a space that may be no more than three feet wide, often with short expanses of wall broken by doorways.  But really, if you have to travel through it many times a day, it’s definitely worth your effort.  Here’s five design ideas that can turn your ho-hum hallway into a space that’s worth passing through.

1. Lighting.  If you’re lucky enough to have hallways with ceilings high enough for pendant lighting (say 9’), use a succession of pendants to pull your eye through the space.  I love pendants that throw shadow.  They add instant drama.  If your ceilings are a bit lower, you use ceiling mount fixtures for the same effect.

focalpoint design example2. Create a focal point.  Draw your eye straight to the end of the hallway with a great focal point.  The one shown is a dominated by the gorgeous sconce, but it could just as easily be a piece of art, a mirror or a beautiful piece of furniture.  I’m currently ripping out a closet at the end of my hallway and plan to install a chest with an eye catching mirror that will pull the eye straight to the focal point, missing the fact the hallway is narrow and the ceilings are low!

library design example3. Create a library.  Hallways are a great space to create a library you might not otherwise have a place for.  If your hallway isn’t wide enough to accommodate adding a built-in bookcase or shelves, consider stealing the space between the studs and recessing most of the bookcase into the wall. In this project we painted the back of the bookcase a deep navy.  The eye gets pulled to the back wall of the bookcase effectively making the space feel wider than it really is.

artphotos-design-example4. Art and photos.  If your hallways are narrow, keep the size of the art or photography in mind.  Large scale pieces require you to step back to view the full piece.  In a narrow hallway, you won’t have that luxury.  This is a fun spot for family photos, but an art or photography series would be another great option.

color pattern design example5. Color and pattern.  Wow!  What a difference this pattern makes to this hallway.  Try a bold wall covering keeping in mind the scale of the pattern.  Like art, when you’re standing or moving through the space, you want to be able to see the full pattern.  Painting your doors something other than white is another way to add color to the space.  Black doors give a very European feel, but a bright bold color just might make you grin every time you walk down the hall.  If your ceilings are low, or the space feels choppy, try painting your walls and ceiling the same color.  Your eye loses that definition between the wall and ceiling plane and makes the ceiling feel higher than it actually is.

At RJohnston Interiors we believe our homes should be the space that relaxes, rejuvenates and refreshes us.  So put that hallway to work and call us if you need a hand!

14 Feb 2016

rough luxe interiorIn our last post we talked about some of the interior design trends for 2016. Here is part 2 with some additional trends.

Rough Luxe.  Add depth and texture to your interiors with products that add instant age to your interiors.  But slow down on the industrial look.  It’s been around awhile and saturated every coffee house in America.  This one may have run its course, but adding texture almost always adds interest.

Retro Tech.  Remember when TV’s were integrated into the furniture?  No – I can’t say that I distinctly remember them either, but just take a look back at TV’s from the 50’s in their own custom cabinets.  The hard edge of modern electronics is getting a softer touch with the latest devices that become part of the furniture.

Seamless Functionality.  Home is not what it used to be.  Remember that living room you were never allowed into?  We don’t want to live that way anymore, and as our spaces become smaller, we don’t have extra rooms that can stand to go unused.  Today’s furniture needs to be able to adapt to numerous different activities.  Think of floating beds with an integrated desk and shelf area on the back side.  Induction charging stations are gradually being integrated into furniture and lighting designs.  IKEA just introduced a series of lamps, bedside tables and desks that are able to wirelessly charge any portable electronic devices that are placed on top of them.  How cool is that!  No more tangle of cords all over the bedside table.

70’s inspired.  The fashion industry has been loving the relaxed free spirited nature of that era, and where fashion goes, so follows interiors.  Take a look at the new CB2 line by Lenny Kravitz inspired by the 1970’s New York club culture.

What else might be a hit in 2016?

Black Metals – Think past your back yard and outdoor furniture here, and we’re not talking the raw industrial look.  Black metals are quiet, but can pack a design impact.  We see it appearing as simple hardware, bathroom fixtures and even flatware, but I personally love it pared with more refined woods (not the industrial look) and glass.

Rounded Furniture – think soft rather than hard edges that soften hard materials like stone.  Touch is an essential part of design, so look for pieces that compel you to run your hands along their shape.

Old -World Ornamentation – Contemporary/modern lines are here to stay but mixing them with period furnishings and details creates warm eclectic spaces with a lot more interest.  Add Grandma’s antique chairs around your new modern dining table.  You can soften the austere lines of modern upholstery with cording, or add fringe to your pillows and gorgeous tassels to your drapery.

Mexican Mid-Century Modernism – In the quest to recreate the set of “Mad Men”, Mid-century modern has become ubiquitous, but we’ve missed out on some of the more interesting variants of the style like Mexican Mid-Century modernism where the clean lines of American and European midcentury modern are often paired with a mix of material – wood, metal and stone.  I’ve never been a big fan of any space done entirely in one design style and it’s time to end the full court press on mid-century.  If it’s a look you love, think about integrating a piece or two into your interiors and looking further afield than what you find in every furniture store in America.

What’s out?  What you don’t like or doesn’t work for your lifestyle!  If you like to be on trend, generally speaking you’ll know what’s out by what’s available everywhere at every price point.

What to do when you can’t figure it out for yourself or are afraid of investing in the wrong piece?  Call an interior designer who has the knowledge, skill and experience to make it happen!  RJohnston Interiors specializes in helping our clients create rooms they find hard to leave.  Spaces that suit their unique aesthetic and lifestyle.

Email us at or give us a call at 661-678-0034.

16 Jun 2013

interior-design-living-013I wrote last week about how often circulation spaces (stairways and hallways) are often over looked in the decoration of a home.  I wanted to expand on that and show you another example of a stair case that was changed from bland to “love it!” by adding detail.  In this case, what was once plain drywall was embellished with the addition of moldings, wallpaper and paint to transform the space.  This back stairway is used almost exclusively by the homeowners and is a fitting path of travel to their beautiful bedroom suite on the second floor.

This was not an easy space.  The stair hall was long, covering most of the distance from the 10’ ceilings on the first floor, the walls were high due to the additional 9’ ceilings on the second floor, and the width was narrow.  A mere 42”.   The solution in this case, because the homeowners loved traditional moldings, was to break the wall plane by adding a wainscot.  The long hallway was further broken up by adding vertical columns that create a repetition of elements, leading the eye down the wall.  The beautiful pendants by Vaughn Lighting are another example of repletion of elements, again, the pendants lead the eye along the path of travel.  The cork wallpaper installed in this space served two purposes.  The first was purely decorative.  The holes in the natural cork are filled with pools of gold which further reflect the light from the pendants and create a fantastic sparkle effect in the stair hall while the variation in color of the natural cork further warms the space.  The second purpose was to control sound.  Cork is a great sound absorber, and in a space like this, narrow, with very tall walls, sound tends to echo.  The cork wallpaper, combined with the beautiful Nourison wool runner, greatly diminished the noise level in this space.  Take a good look at your circulation spaces.  Maybe all they need is a little paint and molding.

Thanks to Mike Haug at Decorative Mouldings in San Diego for a meticulous installation.