Decorative Ceiling Ideas

Architectural Details Will Enhance any Ceiling

Decorative Ceiling Ideas

The most often neglected part of any room is the ceiling.  Usually ceilings are simply painted white and then ignored until there’s a leak or crack that needs to be dealt with. But ceilings offer wonderful opportunities for decoration and they most definitely should not be ignored.

Architectural details add depth and character and create ambiance like nothing else. If you’re not lucky enough to have exposed beams, there are lots of other things you can do to enhance your ceilings.

Here are a few options.

Coffered Ceilings

Nothing adds class and old-school charm to a room like coffered ceilings. Like most architectural details they take something plain and add character.

The word coffer refers to a series of sunken panels (most commonly square in shape) in a ceiling. The look is achieved by adding a series of decorative beams to the ceiling in a grid design. Coffers have been used in ceilings for hundreds of years and used to be found most commonly in libraries and great rooms of traditional homes. But now we’re seeing them in many rooms including living rooms, dining rooms, media rooms and even bedrooms. Definitely traditional in design, coffered ceilings add luxury and elegance to even the humblest of rooms.

Ceiling Medallions

Ceiling medallions are decorative embellishments that are fixed to the center of a ceiling – usually (but not always) around a light fixture. They are most commonly seen in formal rooms such as living rooms and dining rooms.

 Historically ceiling medallions were made of carved wood, but these days they’re more often found in lightweight, inexpensive materials such as plaster.

Ceiling medallions come in many shapes and sizes and vary from the simple to the extravagant. Before buying make sure to find one that is either bigger or smaller than the widest part of the light fixture – if it is the same size it will create a column effect and could make the room feel smaller.

A general rule to remember is that the higher the ceiling the bigger the medallion should be.


To create a cottage-style effect, consider installing beadboard or plank paneling to a ceiling.  Depending on your budget you can either use solid wood tongue-and-groove beadboard (which will have an authentic look) or if you’re working on a budget, consider using pressed plywood that’s been grooved to look like beadboard. Either way you will end up with a country-style look that is far less formal than coffered ceilings.

Ceiling Tiles

Ceiling tiles are one of the least expensive ways to add a decorative element to an entire ceiling. They can be plain or embellished and they make for a simple (though sometimes time consuming!) DIY project. Depending on they type you use they can also help to dampen sound. Styrofoam ceiling tiles can even be installed directly over popcorn ceilings, adding instant class and character.

Tin Tiles

Tin ceiling tiles are not as popular as they once were, but for those who like the look they can add a great decorative element to ceilings. These tiles originally came into fashion at the end of the 19th century as a way to emulate the more expensive decorative plaster.

They also added a measure of fire protection. Building materials have come a long way since then and tin tiles have fallen out of fashion, however they can still be fun in rooms that want to recreate an antique look.


For visual examples of all of these ideas check out these photos.

Adding architectural details is a great way to enhance a ceiling but it’s definitely not the only way. For more ideas how to create chic ceilings check out these ideas for painting a ceiling.