Beauty from Above: Tray Ceilings are Très Chic!

You may have admired this particular kind of ceiling before but didn’t know the term for it. Where does the “tray” ceiling get its name? Well, basically it’s because it resembles an upside-down tray.

This ceiling style includes a recessed or inverted portion that adds architectural interest and depth to a space. The tray portion can be finished to match the surrounding ceiling for a simple, clean look. Or for a more dramatic effect, contrasting paint colours, trim pieces, recessed and pendant lighting and other decorative touches can be incorporated into the tray.

Depth and Shape: the Geometry of Tray Ceilings

tray ceilingsThe inverted part of a tray ceiling can be either shallow or fairly deep, depending on the effect you want to create. Also, the tray portion and the rest of the ceiling don’t necessarily have to be the same shade; a contrasting paint colour can highlight a tray ceiling to great effect.

The shape of the tray doesn’t have to be square or rectangular, either. Some of the most attention-grabbing effects feature an oval tray, which makes a terrific design statement when paired with a similarly shaped dining table or kitchen island directly below. Tray ceilings allow you to use the area overhead to give additional texture and layers to a room without using up valuable floor space.

Two of the most popular kinds of tray ceilings are:

  • The single inverted section – makes use of just one inverted section for an entire area; this means you have a bigger space as your canvas, especially if you intend to hang chandeliers or lamps. The recessed area can be layered or sectioned for a more elaborate effect, depending on the room’s motif.
  • The sectioned recessed tray ceiling – describes the style that cuts the ceiling into “trayed” quarters. This is perfect for more modern interior designs, as the look provides a lively sense of layering to the room.

Situate and Illuminate for the Best Effect

Tray ceilings add instant elegance and interest to any room, and can also be used as a way to distinguish various distinct interior areas. Rather than limit the flow of space on your open concept main floor with walls or other partitions, situate a tray ceiling so that it subtly defines a dining area, for example. This acts like an area rug, in a sense, but leaves the floor plane unobstructed.

Playing with lighting effects can add even more depth and subtlety to a tray ceiling. Bedrooms benefit from a full tray ceiling, as you can use the recessed spaces for dimmable lights, creating an especially soothing atmosphere. Even a small tray ceiling can make a big difference when you add cove lighting, which is a form of indirect lighting built into ledges, recesses, or valences in a ceiling. Light is directed up towards the ceiling and down adjacent walls. It may be used as primary lighting, or for aesthetic accent, especially to highlight decorative ceilings. Cove lighting is wonderful; it hides the fixtures provides a warm, even light.

Have a Custom Homes Builder on Board

If you’re interested in incorporating one or more tray ceilings into the design of your new house, an experienced custom homes builder can provide excellent advice and show you examples of some imaginative possibilities for your emerging luxury living space. Take a good look at the options before making your final choice. You’ll look up often!

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Kerr Construction.
Doug KerrDoug Kerr is the owner of Kerr Construction in Vancouver. With over 25 years of experience in the renovation and new home construction business, he has developed the Kerr System for designing and building. With this Design/Build system he has helped hundreds of clients achieve their dream homes while also winning multiple national and provincial building and renovations awards. Being a former world-class athlete…” Read more.

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