Create a luxurious ceiling for a fraction of the price.

By Carolyn Weber

Decorative ceilings in the dining room or master bedroom can add value to modest homes without breaking the builder's bank. Boulder, Colo., architect Jerry Gloss, of Knudson Gloss Architects, recommends a process, which he refers to as "the poor man's coffer," that doesn't require raising the plate line or under-framing an entire room.

For instance, if the ceiling above the room is framed in a 9Q-inch wood ceiling joist, you can create a 4-inch offset by framing a 6-foot-wide area with 2x6s doubled up and placed with tighter on-center dimensions to span the same distance. Add drywall and some crown trim to the coffer and that's it. To go the extra mile, add a punch color to the drywall to make it pop.

"It looks really expensive," Gloss says, "but when it comes down to it you haven't framed down the ceiling or added to the plate height." The architect estimates that the materials cost less than $50, plus some added man-hours. Although he does offer one caveat: "Be careful with plumbing runs in the area because the depth of the floor is a bit limited."