Break a Bland Ceiling Up the Modern Way

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All too often the ceilings of contemporary insides are treated in 1 way: apartment drywall. This treatment may coincide with a concentration on minimalism, but it can also be seen as unimaginative. Crown moldings and other ornamental features don’t work in contemporary insides, so this ideabook highlights other means of modifying painted drywall ceilings.

The next illustrations fall into four broad categories: trimming, fabrics, layering and stepping. The first involves openings in ceilings; the following highlights additional materials adjacent to drywall; the next deals with multiple ceiling planes; and the last involves different ceiling heights throughout a distance. These modifications show how ceilings can be enlivened without leaving from contemporary simplicity and style.


This easy, white roof is broken up over the kitchen by an opening into the ground over. To its left we can see the stair going up. The timber in these openings echoes that in the kitchen counter beneath.

Another view of this space shows the stairs next to the kitchen, echoed directly outside. Let’s take a look upstairs …

The white drywall from downstairs gives way to lots of timber. If this space had been treated with the same surfaces because the living room below it, the opening over the kitchen wouldn’t possess the powerful contrast that pulls the eye — and body — into the next floor.

Wheeler Kearns Architects

This bedroom features an unusual feature, a skylight over the headboard. The light it increases the room is tangible, and it breaks up an otherwise plain-Jane ceiling.

Jagoda Architecture


White drywall and plywood top this living space. The latter goes quite a way to split up the distance and to link the overhead airplane into the wood wall at right.

Specht Architects

In this bedroom, wood walls run along the sides while a taller white ceiling with boxed-out beams constitutes the center portion over the mattress. The plan is similar to an inversion of an exposed timber structure with white drywall below it.

Lucid Architecture


A daring yellow ceiling juts out from beneath the usual white drywall in this kitchen. A slot in the yellow surface gets the pendant lights dangling over the staircase.

Lucid Architecture

A view from above reveals the way the ceiling extends beyond the mezzanine’s glass guardrail. It’s a unique touch, if another layer to dust.

Abramson Teiger Architects

This kitchen employs a similar strategy, but here it is left in another colour and stuff and receives an exhaust hood. The ceiling gives some familiarity into the kitchen and seating area in the staircase, while also housing the flue; the latter would enter oddly to the drywall ceiling.

Stuart Sampley Architect


Different heights can also work toward dividing drywall ceilings. As in the prior example, the reduced ceiling gives intimacy to this kitchen, but the living room has more living space.

Stuart Sampley Architect

Looking from the living room to the kitchen, you can (barely) see another use of this stepped ceiling in the upper right corner. A diffuser shows that the air supply can be placed to the perpendicular surfaces, leaving the ceiling absolutely free of grilles.


here’s a living room with a stepped ceiling similar to the previous example. Nevertheless the band of light on the wall in right traces in the layering that’s happening as well.

The low ceiling — seen from the opposite course of the prior photograph — shows that the clerestory windows that sit between both ceiling planes. These high windows help bring about natural light even if the blinds are shut for privacy.

Ceilings: The Fifth Element
Cuckoo for Coffered Ceilings

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