High and mighty ceilings

A faux-stone paint finish creates a grand entrance for this home's vestibule.

Q: We live in an older home with a charming front vestibule. The ceiling is high, and I'd like to do something special to create a grand entrance. Should all the ceilings on one floor be the same color, either white or off-white? Thanks for any suggestions.

A: The entrance to your home should be warm and inviting and introduce a feeling of the style that continues in your overall decorating scheme. The building's architecture will also offer clues.

Whether a ceiling remains white or has color added depends on the overall mood you set out to establish. Generally, in a room with high ceilings and moldings at the top of the wall, I suggest painting the whole surface cream or off-white, and use a semi-gloss sheen on the moldings.

For a vestibule, however, you have lots of options to create a more dramatic theme. The walls in the entranceway shown here in a home like yours were given a stone block finish. To complement the effect, the ceiling and moldings were both sponged with three light shades of stone, then darker stone colors were flecked over the surface with a stiff brush.

The faux stone works beautifully because the ceiling is not too big, otherwise it would feel heavy. The ceiling and moldings were treated as one to give fewer breaks in a small space.

Q: We've just bought a 1960s bungalow, and my biggest concern is the bathrooms. The master has gray wall tiles and fixtures; the guest bath has blue tiles and fixtures. I can afford to replace the floors and vanities. What would you suggest to give them both an updated look? Thank you.

A: A new floor in both bathrooms will freshen the style dramatically. Look for porcelain tiles; they are affordable, durable and come in many designs, from marble and stone shades to solid colors. Shades of gray are very contemporary, so for your master bath choose a complementary marble, or pair the gray with muted browns and taupe. The guest room suits either a crisp white floor tile or, for some fun, try bottle green. If these rooms have windows, then shop for new thin- or thick-slat blinds or a modern fabric shade. The vanities should match up with the existing fittings or new hardware, or a painted finish will freshen them up.

Q: We are planning a new kitchen; the cabinets will be off-white, and the island a medium cherry stained walnut. Could you suggest what granite would match adalia cappuccino marble tiles? What backsplash style and color would suit this combination? Thanks.

A: You weren't specific about which material was going where, so I am guessing that you are thinking of the marble as floor tiles, and the granite for countertops. The marble tile you have selected is gorgeous, with lovely rich shades of brown, as the name suggests. So I would go with a sand stone colored backsplash. The granite is a personal choice; find a color that complements the tones in your marble, or pick another material such as the stone composites that come in a more diverse range of colorways. A light countertop will offer a brighter, yet classic mood.

Debbie Travis' House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please email your questions to house2home@debbietravis.com. You can follow Debbie on Twitter at www.twitter.com/debbie_travis, and visit Debbie's new website, www.debbietravis.com.