This ceiling treatment was common decades ago and is now seeing a resurgence in popularity. Typically associated with rustic-style homes, beams made of various materials are being installed into renovations as well as existing homes to add interest and style. Beams work best in a room that has a high ceiling of some sort. Used on a low ceiling, they can make a space feel smaller.
The design possibilities with these types of ceilings are nearly endless, not just with the base material but also with the trims and moldings that can be added to beams. Traditionally, beams are made from wood, but now there are also many faux options that can be attached to the wall and ceiling for exactly the style a homeowner wants. Beams made of metal or other materials can work in modern homes that need an edgier look.
There are different types of beam ceilings to consider. Hammer-beam ceilings provide a lot of vertical space. Short both horizontally and vertically, these types of beams are attached to the walls to help support the roof. Hammer beams are also located close to the walls, which keeps sightlines open through the main part of the room. Boxed beam ceilings are arranged in a waffle pattern, similar to the design in a coffered ceiling. These can be natural wood or painted – whatever works best in the room.
While beam ceilings create outstanding visual interest and there are many design options, the website points out that the height required for these dramatic types of ceilings can make a room feel less intimate, drive up construction costs and increase heating and cooling expenses.
A tray ceiling is a conventional ceiling that has a recessed section. Typically, the recessed portion is at least 6 inches deep and is centered in the room. This is an excellent artistic feature that offers lots of opportunity for customization.
Tray ceiling cut-outs can be any shape and can be completely vertical or angled. Designs sometimes combine several concentric sections that create a very dramatic effect. Combined with paint and types of molding and lighting, tray ceilings can be the focal point of a room. Once only a custom feature, lots of builders are now including these ceiling types as a standard bonus in custom homes. Traditionally they were used in bedrooms and dining rooms, but now these types of ceilings are increasingly making their way to the kitchen area as well.
A tray ceiling has one recessed section, but a coffered ceiling has many and covers the entire ceiling area of a room. The recesses are generally in the pattern of a square or rectangular grid. These types of ceilings are most common in traditional spaces and add an element of elegance and sophistication – as well as height and depth.
Originally designed to make stone ceilings lighter, coffered ceilings have evolved to be a design element used to add interest to a room. These ceiling types date back to 7BC, in San Giuliano, Italy, but examples can also be seen in early Islamic and Chinese architecture. In fact, the large dome of Rome’s Pantheon was built with recessed stone coffering to lighten its load.
Trims and moldings are used to embellish the beams and joints in a coffered ceiling, and are often painted. It is also possible to have a stained coffered ceiling, but this is a decidedly luxury option and has a price point to match. It’s also important to keep in mind that the right lighting is particularly critical to give these types of ceilings the right look.
Coffered ceilings can improve acoustics and increase the value of a home, but they are also more expensive than some other ceiling options and don’t work well in small rooms.