The ceiling of a room may simply be the top of a space, painted a plain white and void of detail. It may also be a decorative element in the room, influencing the style and visual appeal of the space. Ceilings vary in height and shape, and the many variations of ceiling types create distinct visual appeal within any room.
Tray ceilings are so named due to the sloped sides along the perimeter of the room, which lead upward to the flat expanse of the ceiling. The effect is one of an inverted tray. This type of ceiling presents a clean, modern appeal when the walls and ceiling are of the same color; the affect is textural. Painting the interior of the tray with a contrasting color to the wall color brings more attention to the ceiling and accents the architectural value.
A coffered ceiling is decorated with a grid work of wood moldings or beams, creating a network of boxes across the ceiling. The boxes act as framework for tiles or paneling, giving the ceiling a visual texture and the room a sense of Old World elegance. Traditionally, a dark stained wood is used for the coffers, and the tiles or panels may be made of tin or other stamped metal. In contemporary times, the grid work may be of any color, perhaps constructed from a composite material, and provide the framework for a ceiling painted in a contrasting color or in a graphic pattern.
Vaulted ceilings slope upward toward the roof of the house, creating a half-barrel shape above the room. Vaulted ceilings work well in large, spacious rooms, as they tend to balance the expanse of floor space. Vaulted ceilings offer an opportunity for unusual lighting applications, such as large chandeliers or multiple pendant lights.
Like vaulted ceilings, cathedral ceilings rise upward toward the roof, but cathedral ceilings follow through to a peak, rather than the rounded surface of the vaulted ceiling. The cathedral ceiling adds drama to a room, and the seamless blend with the walls affords opportunity to make good use of a subtle wall color. The volume of perceived wall space makes a neutral or pale paint color a dramatic element in the room.
Cove ceilings are the smaller version of vaulted ceilings and are best applied to hallways or foyers. Rather than rising upward and raising the height of the roof, a cove ceiling is only slightly taller than the average 8- or 9-foot ceiling, but the ceiling is curved into a near perfect arch, rolling seamlessly from wall to wall.