The treatment of the ceiling should harmonize with the finish of the walls and woodwork. Ordinarily the ceilings in dwellings are finished with plaster. This lends itself through the use of calcimine (water color paints), to any color scheme. Paper is a less desirable finish for ceilings. If it must be used, as sometimes happens in old houses where the ceiling has cracked or become discolored, a plain tone should be chosen. If a ceiling is cracked, canvas or burlap may be put over the old plaster and then paint or calcimine applied to it.

Beamed ceilings produce an interesting structural and decorative effect. The beams should preferably be finished like the other woodwork in the room. If peculiar problems are presented by the woodwork, the finish of the beams may be considered only in relation to the ceiling. Beamed ceilings are often found in houses of early colonial architecture. They are also a feature of the new Craftsman houses. In the first case they would usually be painted, since most of the woodwork is painted; in the latter, they would be finished like the oak or similar woods generally used.

Ceilings of wood, except in sheathed or paneled rooms, are likely to look heavy and oppressive. In summer cottages and in some parts of the country, rooms sheathed and ceiled in yellow pine or cypress are often finished in the natural color and varnished. Paint is the only antidote and should be used on the ceiling at least, after "cutting" the varnish. White metal ceilings are in line with the progress toward fireproof construction. They cannot as yet be obtained in pleasing pattern except for very large rooms, and even here their construction is unpleasantly obtrusive.

While the ceiling should be keyed to the color of the side wall, this should be done very carefully, since any light ceiling will absorb some color from the side wall. The ordinary method of lighting a room by windows placed in the side wall obviates to a considerable degree the effect of a white ceiling. The light strikes the side wall directly, leaving the ceiling inevitably much darker than white. This should be kept in mind in selecting the tint for the ceiling, lest it be too dark for the effective lighting of the room; and it should not be forgotten when a ceiling color is extended to the side wall. In such a case the color that comes on a side wall should be several tones darker in order to appear of the same tone as the ceiling color.