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Look Up to a Stylish Ceiling: 10 Ideas for Great Ceiling Details

How many of us take the time to look up? Ceilings are often overlooked, ignored, or painted and forgotten, but ceiling details are a wonderful and stylish way to add depth and visual interest to the “fitfth wall” of your home.

If you’re building or updating your home (or looking for a way to refresh a room), I urge you to explore all the little ceiling details—beyond light fixtures—that can enhance and add style to a room. Here are some of my favorite ideas for ceiling details that can bring a room together as well as a few progress sneak peeks of ceiling details happening in my own Modern European home build.

Architect: Brooks & Falotico

10 Ideas for Adding Amazing Ceiling Details to a Room

Most of us probably don't think much about a ceiling. But when you walk into a place with a truly stylish ceiling, your eyes are instantly drawn upward. As a result, the room often feels bigger, more expansive, and even more polished. Ceiling details add visual interest, impact, and oomph to a room.

Adding some details to your ceiling design is a great way to maximize your style. Ceiling details often don't require a substantial investment, but they help the space feel complete. Here are some of the best ideas for adding ceiling details to a room.

Photography: Caroline Sharpnack

1. Beadboard and Tongue-and-Groove Planks

Beadboard consists of flat planks with a ridged vertical edge milled right into the board. In the past, it's mainly been a decorative feature for walls, but it's a great way to add interest to your ceiling. Covering your ceiling with beadboard is an ideal solution for covering up a less-than-perfect ceiling too.

Similarly, tongue-and-groove planks fit into each other, creating a polished look. These planks are predominantly used in flooring but adding them to the ceiling makes the room feel cozy and cottage-like. Both types of planks look beautiful with a natural stained finish, or you can use low-VOC paint to create the bespoke look you desire.

Design + Image: Studio McGee

2. Coffered Ceilings

Looking for DRAMA in your ceiling design? Consider a coffered ceiling. These beautiful ceilings are inspired by early Renaissance architecture. They consist of wooden beams arranged in a pattern, usually to create squares or rectangles (although there are octagonal and other configurations as well). These make a room feel instantly spacious and grand.

While coffers can feel quite formidable, they aren’t difficult to install, nor are they typically expensive. Of course, you’ll need to have higher ceilings to install coffers because (especially in darker colors or natural wood) they can make a room feel smaller. In the right space, however, coffers are a stunning addition.

3. Exposed Rafters, Trusses, or Beams

I would say this is one we’re all familiar with, as we see them everywhere lately! If you have vaulted ceilings, exposed trusses or rafters are a beautiful addition to your ceiling décor that really adds a lot to the space. If you opt to keep the wood natural, you’ll get a “loft” type feeling that adds a rustic, old-world appeal.

Photography: Caroline Sharpnack

If you don't have a vaulted ceiling, exposed or faux wood beams create a similar effect and feel. There's something that feels very “European cottage” with exposed beams. Structural beams (or weight-bearing beams) are part of the room construction and must be installed by a professional during the build. Faux or decorative beams are also available; best of all, you can install them later to update a space.

4. Wallpaper

Wallpaper is another wonderful option to add excitement to your ceiling design. It may sound a little unconventional at first, but adding a bright, interesting pattern to your ceiling enlivens a room, draws the eye upward, and offers an excellent solution for rooms without much blank wall space due to doors, windows, and such.

Design: W Design Collective | Builder: Jackson LeRoy | Photography: Lucy Call

If you’re not quite ready for a floral ceiling, consider a simpler geometric patterned wallpaper, grasscloth, or even embossed paper with a tone-on-tone design. There are textural wallpapers that you can even paint over to create a more interesting pattern on the ceiling. Best of all, wallpaper is inexpensive and fairly easy to change if you redecorate or update in the future.

5. Patterned Boards and Wood Ceiling Details

We chose a herringbone pattern for the office ceiling in the house we're building. A herringbone pattern arrangement consists of boards lined up in alternate directions to form a v-shaped or zigzag pattern (the name comes from how it resembles a fish's bones).

Using reclaimed wood is one way to avoid concerns of chemical off-gassing that can come from stained wood. However, there are low-VOC stains and paints that you can use to create a herringbone wood patterned ceiling in any finish you prefer. Raw or wood tones will appear more rustic and help you capture the natural variations in the wood that make this formation so interesting.

6. Crown Molding

Always a classic, crown molding instantly elevates a room with elegance. Crown molding refers to the decorative trim that runs along the top of the wall, where it meets the ceiling. The concept goes back to Greek architecture, although today, molding is typically made from wood or plaster (rather than the heavy stone and marble used by the Greeks).

Adding crown molding to a room is a relatively easy project that really pays off. Depending on the level of detail, molding is quite inexpensive, making it a worthy ceiling design investment. Most people paint crown molding to match the ceiling color, although natural wood can also be a timeless look. Crown molding works well, even in smaller spaces.

Design + Image: Anthology Interiors

7. Ceiling Medallions and Tiles

Ceiling medallions and ceiling tiles date back to the Victorian era. The beautiful details looked similar to European homes' ornately carved ceilings with plaster details. The ceiling medallions were typically circular and used to block soot from collecting on the ceiling above candle-powered light fixtures. Similarly, tiled ceilings were created from tin or steel stamped tiles that looked very similar to plaster patterns. The tiles could cover damaged plaster and resist water and soot.

Design: Marie Flanigan Interiors | Photography: Julie Soefer

Today, ceiling medallions and tiles add another ceiling detail that many homeowners love. They offer historic charm and visual appeal. Ceiling medallions are available in a wide variety of styles, from ornate flourishes to sleek, modern circles. Tiles are also available in an array of options and patterns to complement many different styles and ceiling designs.

8. Rounded or Coved Ceilings

The concept of arched, coved, or curved ceilings is popular around the world. Rounded ceilings are common in the Middle East, South America, Spain, and many other spots. The lack of hard edges can make a room feel relaxed and soothing.

Even if you don’t have high ceilings, you can create rounded edges with coving—a type of rounded crown molding that offers a curved appearance. Coved ceilings fit with modern and classic or traditional styles. It's an excellent way to soften and add polish and finish to a room without using up too much space. Be on the lookout for a coved ceiling detail happening in the basement of our Modern European.

9. Barrel-Vaulted Ceilings

One form of rounded ceiling is a barrel-vaulted ceiling. Barrel vault ceilings consist of a continuous archway—similar to a barrel cut in half. Barrel vaulting is efficient and structurally very strong and sound. The look of a barrel-vaulted ceiling is perfect for hallways and long spaces due to the continuity of the lines.

We’ve decided to include a barrel-vaulted ceiling in the basement family room of the house we’re building. Rounded ceilings add a softness to a space while simultaneously making it appear larger. It’s an ideal choice for gathering spaces, a living room, or media room.

10. Groin Vaulted Ceilings

A groin vault is where two barrel-vaulted ceilings meet and intersect at a right angle. This creates a beautiful center quite common in historic architecture (like cathedrals, churches, and Roman baths). Groin vaults and their relative, the ribbed vault, often include pillars and work well in spacious open areas.

Design + Image: Lauren Liess

If you’re looking for a truly stunning ceiling design, these beautiful, arched ceilings are an excellent choice. The acoustics are often excellent, and a groin-vaulted ceiling adds a sense of lightness and airiness that really stands out.

Design: Beth Webb | Architect: Jeffrey Dungan Architects | Photography: William Abranowicz

Hopefully, these ceiling design ideas have given you some inspiration for your home. Ceiling design is often overlooked, but it’s an area that offers massive impact and huge returns on your investment. If you want a room to truly feel complete, consider the ceiling style.

What’s your favorite way to “elevate” your ceiling design? Let me know in the comments below!

X Lauren

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