Although many people have plain and flat ceilings in their rooms, a coffered ceiling is typically made of wood panels that have a relief or design on them. The panels can be used to create various effects in rooms, according to the shape, size and color of them.
Quite often a coffered ceiling will make a room appear smaller and darker than it really is. By correctly lighting a coffered ceiling you can alter these perceptions, making the room seem completely different.
Types of Light Fixtures
Technically you can fit any type of lighting you wish to into a coffered ceiling. However, the whole point of a coffered ceiling is that it is, in itself, a feature of the room and so you don’t want it obscured by a lot of light fixtures.
In this respect fitting track lighting should be avoided and, obviously dependent on the size of the room; having more than two or three light fittings suspended from ceiling roses should also be avoided - as they will spoil peoples views of the ceiling. If you do use lights suspended from ceiling roses consider using up-lighters rather than down-lighters, so as much light as possible is thrown onto the ceiling.
Creating a tremendous ‘Wow factor’ in a room with a coffered ceiling would be a thoughtfully designed chandelier. This would both fill the room with light and show off the coffered ceiling to its maximum effect. However, chandeliers can be very heavy - so before going out and buying one check what the load bearing limit of the joist you’d fix it on to is.
Recessed lighting is probably the best compromise in terms of the light fittings themselves for a coffered ceiling, being discrete and yet producing enough light to also ‘show off’ the ceiling.
Wall and Standing Lighting
This too can be made to work differently in different shapes and sizes of rooms. You’re still recommended to have some lights actually in the ceiling itself, as ceiling lights offer a focal point in a room. So for a small room at least have a single light hanging from a ceiling rose or even a small chandelier, or for a larger room at least two or three hanging or recessed lights.
The ceiling lights don’t need to be too powerful as most of the light in the room will come from lights around and mounted on the walls or from lamps that are standing on the floor. The exact design, numbers and size of these lights will of course depend on your personal tastes and the size of the room; but they should be either up-lighters or spot-lights that can be angled upwards.
Mixing Ceiling, Wall and Floor Standing Light
By carefully planning the lighting arrangement in a coffered ceiling room you’ll be able to create varying ambiences to suit the different occasions you use the room for. There might be occasions on which you want all the lights on to emphasize the space in the room and how ornate the ceiling is.
At other times having by just the ceiling lights on you can create an atmosphere of formality; whilst using a combination of the lights on the walls or the standing lamps can create a warm and cozy feeling. Of course adding dimmer switches will further enhance your ability to create varying moods for the room.