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A Ceiling with an Attitude: Laurel McManus Brown, President and Founder of Brownhouse

"Because the owner desired an old world feel with rich, traditional detailing, and a robust and stately scale, I included hardwood mouldings throughout the home," comments Madison designer Laurel McManus Brown. Sumptuous materials, muscular mouldings, and custom woodwork melded together to yield a spectacular interior environment. 

Creating a Dramatic Coffered Ceiling

For this den with a view, I wanted to create 9 coffers, fully stained, with very deep, dramatic beams. I designed these beams with ornament that supported robust dentil moulding. The traditional crown shape lifts the eye to the decorative medallion, without competing with it. I was able to place small halogen spots in the center of each metallic ceiling medallion. Also, I had the members involved in the ceiling and walls professionally finished by the cabinet maker to assure a perfect match. See Picture 1A and 1B for completed project and 1C for CAD drawings of products used.

Complementing the Muscular Ceiling with the Mantel and Cabinetry

I intended for the robust dentil on the ceiling coffers to complement the mantel dentil (Picture 1E). You probably don't notice it, but the soffit on the den perimeter houses the speaker system, the HVAC, and additional lighting as it quietly demures to the majestic ceiling. The floor is Mahogany, the cabinets and mantel are Cherry, and the moulding is Poplar - we were so pleased that the combination of species, after a professional finish, yielded such a magnificent environment (Picture 1D).

Laurel McManus Brown, Madison, Wisconsin's Brownhouse president and founder, specializes in commercial and high-end custom residences. By approaching projects holistically and asking, "Who is your company, not what is your company," Brownhouse achieves a more robust and imaginative design while addressing the intangible, emotional and sensual elements of the client experience. You can visit her website or contact her at

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