Selecting Tray Ceiling Light Fixtures: A Guide for Your Home

Hey friends! I’m so excited to chat about all things tray ceiling lighting today. I recently installed new fixtures in the tray ceiling of my living room, which was quite the journey. However, I learned much about choosing the perfect light to enhance these unique ceilings. Whether your home has a tray ceiling or wants to add one, you’ll need the proper fixture to make the architectural detail pop. Read on for my tips and tricks!

Demystifying Tray Ceilings

Let’s start with the basics – what exactly is a tray ceiling? It’s a type of ceiling featuring a recessed, flat center surface surrounded by a decorative border. The recessed portion looks like a tray, which is how it got its name. Tray ceilings have been used in fancy homes for centuries but have become more commonplace lately.

How to Choose the Right Tray Ceiling Light Fixture for Your Home

I love the dimension and visual interest a good tray ceiling can add to a room. Mine was already part of my bungalow when I bought it. The border is slightly taller than the recessed tray, creating an excellent two-tier effect. Tray ceilings are often found in more formal living spaces but can be styled cozy or glamorous.

Lighting Sets the Mood

Fixtures are crucial for tray ceilings – the right light can make or break the look. Since the ceiling is a standout design feature, your chosen institution must enhance its unique architecture. But lighting also sets the tone for how the space will feel.

See also  Banish the Gloom: Make Your Home Safer with Attic Lighting

I wanted an inviting yet unique ambiance for my living room since we host family and friends there. The tray ceiling now has three pendant lights hanging at varying heights. It creates a warm, glam glow that makes the room feel welcoming yet still polished. The possibilities are endless! From statement chandeliers to recessed lighting, pick what suits your space.

Fixture Fundamentals

Ready to start shopping? Hold those horses! Before falling in love with a light fixture, consider a few fundamental things to choose the right fit.

Make sure your light fixtures are a perfect fit for your space

Size Matters

You want your light fixture to complement the tray ceiling without looking disproportionate. A general rule is to choose an institution about 1/3 to 1/2 the size of the tray’s length and width. There are no set rules, but visualizing things in scale will help. It is too small, and the fixture may get lost. Too large, and it can overwhelm.

Position Power

The placement and positioning of your fixture matters, too. Center it for focal impact or try offsetting it for asymmetry. Institutions can also be clustered together creatively. Imagine your fixture options underneath the tray to see your preferred placement.

Beam Brightness

What type of light do you want? Is it vital – bright and functional for task lighting or soft and glowing for ambiance? For general use, look for fixtures with 10-20 lumens per square foot output. And don’t forget about controls like dimmers and intelligent bulbs! Their adjustability lets you set the perfect scene.

Choose the Right Light Fixture to Fit Your Budget

Shopping for Your Fixture

The fun part is picking the perfect fixture! Here are the most common (and gorgeous) tray ceiling lighting options:

See also  10 Captivating Living Room Designs To Elevate Your Home's Style


Pendant lights are suspended from the ceiling to illuminate below. A single dramatic pendant makes a statement, while a cluster can provide task lighting and ambiance. Sizing and placement are essential for ideal visual balance. Make sure your pendant cords are long enough for your ceiling height.


Nothing says luxury like a sparkling chandelier! For tray ceilings, a medium-to-large chandelier can make the space feel grand. Be mindful of proportions – you want it to make an impact without completely overpowering. Look for styles with cascading crystals, dazzling details, and warm materials like brass.

Recessed Lighting

Recessed downlights provide unobtrusive, directional illumination. They seamlessly integrate into the architecture. Since the lights are less visible, recessed lighting works well for lower tray ceilings. Opt for adjustable lamps so you can direct the beam where needed most.


Wall-mounted sconces flanking the tray ceiling can provide beautiful uplighting or mood lighting. Go with plug-in electric sconces for an easier installation. The light cast on the ceiling from sconces can make a tray glow. Look for styles that match other metals and finishes in your space.

Flush Mounts

As the name implies, these fixtures mount directly to the ceiling surface, providing diffuse overhead lighting. Tray ceilings should be used only in tighter areas with low clearance since they detract from the architectural detail.

Additional Design Considerations for Coffered Ceiling Lighting

Additional Design Considerations

Beyond just the fixture type, here are some other lighting design choices to keep in mind for your space:

  • Color temperature – Pick warm white or cooler daylight hues. I suggest 2700K-3000K for cozier spaces.
  • Materials – Consider finishes like polished chrome, brass, and nickel for some shine.
  • Style – Look for fixtures that complement your home’s existing aesthetic.
  • Dimmability – Dimmable fixtures allow you to control ambiance and brightness.
  • Innovative options – Controls like intelligent bulbs and remote access provide convenience.
  • Energy efficiency – Choose LED bulbs and Energy Star-rated fixtures to save energy.
  • Budget – Set a budget and look for quality materials that will last over time.
See also  Coffered Ceiling Lighting Mastery: Best Ways to Illuminate

Ladder Up! Installing Your Fixture

Once you’ve picked the perfect lighting fixture, it’s time for installation. Since tray ceilings are higher, you’ll likely need a tall ladder. If you’re not 100% confident in your ability to wire overhead lights, it’s best to call in a professional electrician. Safety first!

Ensure your electrician properly secures the fixture into the ceiling and checks the wiring. Ask them to test the lights before they leave so you can enjoy your new glow immediately. Proper positioning is also vital – use a level to ensure your fixture hangs straight.

Brighten Up!

You have everything you need to choose stylish, functional tray ceiling lighting. Consider the options and how the fixtures will look in your space. The right light can elevate a basic tray into a showstopping focal point. Most importantly, choose an institution that reflects your style. After all, your home is an expression of you.