Design Ideas for a Kitchen Ceiling

Updated February 21, 2017

Kitchen ceilings have a lot of potential, but very few homeowners remember to include the ceiling in their remodel. Even in difficult spaces, such as kitchens with slanted ceilings, it's possible to create an attractive, welcoming and well-lit ceiling. A well-designed kitchen ceiling can enhance cabinet and wall colour, make spaces more inviting and improve your workspace.

Recessed Lighting

Recessed lighting can provide attractive ambient lighting that's more appealing than a standard fluorescent ceiling mount but less likely to get in the way than pendant lights. This type of lighting is also manipulable; most types of recessed lighting are simple to aim at a specific surface or space, making it much easier to work in.


Exposed beams or wooden panelling adds a rustic look to any kitchen and is an especially good choice in country or Tuscan-style kitchens. Wood provides a natural warmth and attractive texture that's hard to get with flat paint. Choose dark wood for open kitchens with high ceilings, but avoid it in small kitchens with low ceilings or little natural light. Too much dark wood can make a kitchen seem closed in and unfriendly; however lighter woods, like pine and ash, work well.


In kitchens with a sloping ceiling or few windows to the outside, natural light is at a premium. Working under artificial task lighting works well enough, but natural sunlight can make the kitchen feel more cheerful. Consider adding a skylight in a single-story building to provide the missing light in your kitchen. Properly positioned, a skylight lets natural sun in all year long.

Metal Tile

Pressed tin tile was a common ceiling covering in Victorian buildings and can work well in an old-fashioned kitchen. Tin adds a classic look and feel that's getting much harder to find. This tile is often extremely ornate and is displayed in its natural, shiny form or painted. Some types of tin ceiling tile is mounted in the grid for an existing drop ceiling, making installation simple.

Decorative Painting

Painted decorative elements also work well on kitchen ceilings. One classic option is a trompe l' oeil, or "fool the eye" sky. When painted well, this type of decorative painting simulates a warm summer sky filled with fluffy clouds, no matter what the weather is outside. Other decorative painting options include faux marble finishes and decorative work on crown moulding.

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About the Author

G.D. Palmer is a freelance writer and illustrator living in Milwaukee, Wis. She has been producing print and Web content for various organizations since 1998 and has been freelancing full-time since 2007. Palmer holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in writing and studio art from Beloit College in Beloit, Wis.