Ceilings: original details

Panelled ceilings with beams or battens were common, but some bungalows had ornate plastered ceilings.

Ceilings were more decorative in hallways and living areas than in bedrooms or service areas.

Panelled ceilings

Ceilings in hallways, living and dining rooms were often lined with fibrous plaster panels with a plain or dimpled finish. The joints were concealed by beams or battens than ran in both directions, dividing the room into a series of white rectangles or coffers (Figure 1).

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Bedroom ceiling

The ceilings in the bedrooms were far less ostentatious. If they were lined with fibrous plaster panels, they tended to be battened rather than beamed.

A cheaper option for lining was to continue the wallpaper on the walls across the ceiling, although this was not especially common. The wall would often have a picture rail that matched the height of the plate shelf but served to provide a visual break between wall and ceiling, albeit at a lower level.

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Service room ceilings

If service rooms were lined with match lining, this was generally carried across the ceiling as well.

The fibrous plaster panels could span approximately 3’ (900 mm). They were generally painted white or off-white and often had a textured finish, achieved by being cast on patterned glass. Asbestos-cement sheets (see wall linings) were sometimes used instead of plaster panels.

The timbering could be battens around 3’’ x  3/8”–½”  (76 x 9.5–12 mm), while beams were sometimes hollow box beams to create an impression of greater solidity. Rimu was commonly used for the timbering, but cedar and oregon were also sometimes used. The timbers were generally dark stained or oiled.

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Plastered ceilings

Although they did not actually belong to the bungalow style, ceilings in hallways, living and dining rooms were sometimes ornately plastered, usually featuring an elaborate, decorated central rose. 
This ceiling style dated from an earlier time when gas lighting was common and the central rose doubled as a ventilator to let hot air from the burning gas escape. By the 1920s, this function was no longer required and the roses were no longer ventilators, but the ornate roses remained.

Plastered ceilings were usually combined with equally ornate plaster cornices (Figures 2 and 3).