Structural beams & posts. We love them, because they hold our houses up. We hate them, because they tend to plunk down right smack dab in the middle of our open-concept design, or force our ceilings down lower with an intrusive I-Beam. So how do you design around them?
1. EXPOSE THEM
Taking a leaf out of TMZ's book, expose them! Make the whole world see them for what they are! Popular among the modern, mid-century, & industrial crowds, an exposed I-Beam or steel post can be simply stunning.
The amazing curved ceiling (above) includes feature lighting to really show off the steel structure aspect.
H-Beam and I-Beam. Both can seem like curse words to a designer when uttered by a structural engineer. "You're going to need to put an I-Beam here...running through your beautiful, perfect kitchen," they'll say. We'll make this face:
Thankfully, raw beams can look awesome. Like really awesome.
Placed against a white, painted ceiling, the beams ground the dining room (above, left) & keep the space from feeling too sterile. Exposed steel beams also look incredible when paired with wood. Marrying man-made with nature is a winning combination, as shown in the photo above (right).
2. FANCY THEM UP
Oh you fancy, huh? If exposed beams aren't your style, consider cladding them in something unique (like custom wood-grain cast cement by Concrete Cat) - that's what we do!
The grey concrete panels you see in these photos are structural beams that we had to keep, regardless of how badly we wanted a totally open concept design (remember? Structural Engineers!). We clad all the structural posts in custom poured concrete panels with a chic wood-grain pattern. They ended up being a nod to the homeowners concrete business! Additionally, the panels were added to the face of the main floor fireplace to tie the design together.
Posts can be clad in any number of materials. For a traditional space, MDF may be used to achieve a wainscoted or decorative look.
Another favourite of ours to dress a beam is with reclaimed wood. Using a peel & stick product has been successful in creating a country-chic look.
How fantastic does that look? Weathered Stikwood covers both the beam & post, and is introduced in the fireplace panels.
3. PRETEND THEY'VE ALWAYS BEEN THERE
Oh, this old beam? It's always been here, perfectly aged and rustic-looking. People are gullible. Find some knotty beams, use a grey-brown stain to "antique" them, and voila! You have a new "old" beam!
4. EMBRACE THEM
Sometimes we come along existing structure that can't be removed. Sometimes it's hideous & we have to hide it, but at other times, it's extraordinary, just needs a little TLC. Take the photo below, for example;
The beautiful structure of this home only needed a few details added to make it really stand out. We used heavy black hardware against the natural wood, and painted white shiplap to really turn the focus on to the beams.
There are many ways to embrace structural beams & posts. What are your favourite methods for incorporating them into design?