What is a coffered ceiling?

The coffered ceiling is enjoying a renaissance as the new 'it' architectural feature of the modern home.
Two living rooms with coffered ceilings

The coffered ceiling is enjoying a renaissance as the new ‘it’ architectural feature of the modern home.

At once modern and traditional, they’re a great way to reimagine a space in a home or renovation by literally taking your interiors to new heights – a powerful decorating solution and a perfect way to borrow back unused space and put it to use in a small room.

With the ability to demarcate zones within a larger space – such as over a dining area in an open plan living space – a coffered ceiling can not only divide a space visually but conquer by adding value to your home.

Not all homes have the potential for a coffered ceiling – some investigation is required before you begin to ensure the ceiling line can be raised.

White and beige Hamptons style living room with coffered ceiling.

A living room with coffered ceilings painted in Dulux Vivid White for a crisp, clean look and subtle contrast to Dulux Gazebo White on the walls.

A coffered ceiling is a traditional technique used for centuries both in homes and public buildings, where a section of the normal ceiling is recessed or raised by a series of grids. Often combined with architectural moulding, pressed metal, timber boards or beams, the sense of elevation creates a dramatic architectural feature that brings light and luxury to a space.

What is a coffered ceiling?

Why choose a coffered ceiling?

Originally built from stone, coffered ceilings were designed to make the ceiling lighter as the stone was carved out from a solid mass.

Coffered ceilings can also be used to improve the acoustics in a room. Nowadays, coffered ceilings are mainly used for decorative purposes and are especially popular in period homes where owners are trying to restore a heritage feel and add character and charm.

Hamptons style living room with coffered ceiling.
(Photography: Brigid Arnott | Styling: Lisa Hilton)

How are coffered ceilings built?

In architecture, a “coffer” is a sunken panel in a ceiling.

Coffered ceilings are built on top of the existing ceiling by adding cosmetic beams on top of the original, structural beams in a grid-like pattern of indentations or recesses. Squares can be filled in with plasterboard or pressed metal, depending on the desired finish.

What is a coffered ceiling? | Home Beautiful Magazine Australia
(Credit: Prue Ruscoe)

How to achieve a coffered ceiling 

  1. Check your roof cavity for available space and structural support
  2. Measure carefully to ensure the ceiling is where you need it to be in relation to the interior space below
  3. Consider options for finishing the space in keeping with the overall style of your home – whether with square-set plastering, moulded details, feature wallpaper or even windows – to form a skylight.
  4. Consult a professional builder for a consultation and quote

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