One of the most overlooked areas in a home is the ceiling plane. Since it's not in our immediate view, the ceiling takes a backseat to wall color, wall decor, and of course any furnishings and rugs we may put into a room. But turning that overlooked plane into a focal point can do wonders to liven up a space. There are many options for a ceiling finish including paint, wallpaper, plaster, and relief details. Depending on the material and how it is applied, it can enhance a space concept, making it more modern or rustic or fun...or even vintage!
And a material that says vintage like no other is pressed tin.
Introduced in the late 1800s, embossed tin plates imitated carved and molded plasterwork from the finest European and American homes but at a reduced cost since they were machine made. They were a popular feature in many commercial and residential buildings of the period because the Industrial Revolution and the proliferation of the railroad helped to disseminate this product all over the country.
Below are some photos of actual pressed tin ceilings during this period. First we see a view of the saloon at the Columbian Hotel in Trinidad, Colorada, sometime in the late 1800s.
And here are two views of private homes with pressed tin ceilings: a sitting room and a music room...
Of course pressed metal ceilings fell out of favor with the coming Arts and Crafts and Streamline Moderne (Deco) movements but they have made a resurgence in recent years in both commercial and residential applications. Thy can be ordered in a variety of metal colors and are paintable.
Restaurants like to use the material to reference a sense of a by-gone era. Below we can see a photo of a pressed tin ceiling in the Greenwich Village restaurant Tavern on Jane. The vintage-style milk glass schoolhouse pendants look wonderful against the tin.
And here is a fun view of a seating area in the restaurant and bar Kettner Exchange in San Diego featuring large-format copper colored tiles.
Pressed tin ceilings look particularly good in kitchens. They truly lend themselves to an old-time, antique sense of Americana. White cabinetry with beadboard panels, vintage light fixtures, and wood floors recall a time long gone.
Pressed metal ceilings can be used in any room. In fact, I am currently specifying the material in a rustic but luxurious master bathroom design for a client.
For applications in places like a master bathroom or even as a kitchen backsplash, PVC tiles that are engineered to look like pressed metal are a great option since they are easy to clean or wipe and won't rust.
There are also versions that can be used in dropped ceilings for commercial projects with T-bars already installed.