1. Home
  2. Design Ideas

Design Ideas for a Recessed Ceiling

Recessed ceilings provide an interesting opportunity for creative design. A recessed ceiling, also known as a tray ceiling, is created when the central portion of the ceiling is higher than the surrounding area. A tray ceiling can keep the room from looking too large (by creating a cozier height with a focal point), or it can be used to draw the eye upward, therein emphasizing the height of the room. Read on for ideas on how to highlight your recessed ceiling with panache…

White on White

Sometimes less is more! You can’t beat the clean look of a white recessed ceiling in a white room. When there is no color to detract from the design of the ceiling itself, each detail (such as moulding) truly stands out. [from HGTV.com]

White recessed ceiling in a white kitchen
White recessed ceiling in a white kitchen

In fact, you can get creative with moulding, placing it at two different levels within the ceiling, as shown below in this architecturally detailed room from Studiomint:

Moulding borders a recessed ceiling
Moulding borders a recessed ceiling

The kitchen below features an octagonal recessed ceiling that makes a statement with its geo form. White on white keeps the look crisp, as the octagon is a big statement in its own right. [from HGTV.com]

Kitchen with octagonal recessed ceilings
Kitchen with octagonal recessed ceilings

Even a small recessed ceiling can create an impact, especially when strategic lighting is involved. Note how the glow of the recessed lighting bounces off the high-gloss paint in this space by interior designer Daun Curry[via Marcus Design]

White hallway with a recessed ceiling
White hallway with a recessed ceiling

The recessed ceiling below features hidden lighting, which adds drama to this modern interior. Tube lighting and rope lighting are popular choices for recessed ceilings with hidden lights. [from Stuart Silk Architects via Decorextra]

Strategic lighting in a recessed ceiling
Strategic lighting in a recessed ceiling

A Lesson in Contrast

To call attention to your recessed ceiling, try painting it in a color that contrasts the rest of the ceiling (and the rest of the room). Grey is the perfect choice for the tray ceiling in the modern kitchen below. [from Roca Homes]

Kitchen with a painted recessed ceiling
Kitchen with a painted recessed ceiling

This inviting bedroom features a recessed ceiling painted a taupey shade of grey. Note how the color draws you eye upward, creating a sense of drama and height. [from Houzz]

Painted taupe recessed ceiling
Painted taupe recessed ceiling

You can also add contrast by taking the opposite approach. Instead of painting the majority of the ceiling white, try painting the elevated portion white while adding color to the remainder of the ceiling, as shown in the grey kitchen below. White beadboard also adds contrast and texture to this ceiling. [from HGTV.com]

White recessed ceiling in a grey kitchen
White recessed ceiling in a grey kitchen

Wooden planks cover the recessed ceiling in the next image, creating a sense of warmth and modern style. [from HGTV.com]

Planked wood recessed ceiling
Planked wood recessed ceiling

This stunning modern interior features a recessed ceiling that spans the length of both the kitchen and the dining room. Once again, wooden paneling adds warmth, mirroring the wooden accents in other portions of the interior. [from from Stuart Silk Architects via Decorextra]

Recessed ceiling with wood paneling
Recessed ceiling with wood paneling

The Power of Pendant Lighting

For a sophisticated, powerful statement, try hanging a pendant light from the center of your recessed ceiling. This strategy works well in large spaces, as the pendant creates a dramatic focal point. [from HGTV.com]

Hallway with dramatic pendant lighting
Hallway with dramatic pendant lighting

Get creative with your lighting, using the recessed ceiling as a shadowbox for a pendant that also serves as a sculptural work of art. [from Natalie Fuglesveit Interior Design]

Pendant lighting in a recessed ceiling
Pendant lighting in a recessed ceiling

If your ceiling has multiple recessed portions, try adding multiple pendants for continuity and flair. After all, there’s power in numbers! [from Brighton Homes]

Pendant lighting in a hallway with a recessed ceiling
Pendant lighting in a hallway with a recessed ceiling

Something Dramatic

We now turn our attention to recessed ceilings that go the extra mile. Creativity reigns in the ceiling features below. For example, an oval outline in black is the perfect frame for the glamorous chandelier in the next featured space. [from Edwin Pepper Interiors]

Dramatic painted recessed ceiling in an elegant bedroom
Dramatic painted recessed ceiling in an elegant bedroom

It’s all about texture in the interior below, which features Lauhala Matting that is unique to the Pacific Islands. Wooden trim creates a contrasting frame. [from Shigetomi Pratt Architects]

Recessed ceiling with unique matting
Recessed ceiling with unique matting

You can also use your ceiling as a backdrop for protruding panels. Bonus points if the panels feature recessed lighting! [from HGTV.com]

Kitchen with a panelled recessed ceiling
Kitchen with a panelled recessed ceiling

Last but not least, we shine the spotlight on a child’s bedroom that showcases a recessed ceiling with a painted cloud mural. The sky is the limit in this whimsical space! [from Decormee]

Recessed ceiling with a cloud mural
Recessed ceiling with a cloud mural

How are you planning to accentuate your recessed ceiling? Share your favorite design ideas by leaving a comment below…

Liked the story? Share it with friends.

What do you think?

  • Joey Casey

    I am a huge fan contrasting and accent colors in recessed ceilings! Even if it’s only a slight color change, it can really live a room a lot of dimension. And it shows your attention to detail. Just a word of caution, keep in mind that if you pick a crazy or off-beat color, you may be stuck with it for quite a while. Even though the task itself isn’t a huge challenge, committing to re-painting and the preparation involved oftentimes makes it very easy for people to put off.

Booking.com