Illuminating Choices: Right Tray Ceiling Lighting for Your Home

Hey there, decor lovers! It’s Amanda again, coming to you from my lovely little apartment in New York City. Today, I want to discuss one of my favorite architectural elements – the tray ceiling. Readers often ask how to light these unique ceilings so that they shine correctly. Well, you’ve come to the right place! Grab a cup of coffee, and let’s dive in.

An Introduction to Tray Ceilings

For those unfamiliar with the term, a tray ceiling refers to a ceiling with a hollow or recessed center section and a decorative border around the edges- it’s almost like a tray, hence the name!

Tray ceilings first emerged centuries ago in grand halls and cathedrals, but today, they can be found in all sorts of homes and spaces. I’ve worked on projects involving tray ceilings in living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, home offices – you name it!

How to Choose the Right Tray Ceiling Lighting for Your Home

These ceilings can add striking visual interest and dimension to any room when well-executed. But it’s so important to pay attention to the lighting. I’ve seen far too many lovely creative tray ceilings go to waste due to poor lighting choices. Proper illumination helps highlight the architecture and make the design pop.

So, in this post, we’ll explore all sorts of tips and tricks for lighting up your tray ceiling with style!

Choosing the Right Lighting Style for Your Tray Ceiling

When it comes to tray ceiling lighting, you must first consider the overall type you want to achieve. Your lighting choices should complement the look and feel you want in the space. Here are some popular options:

For Traditional Spaces

If your home has an old-world style with ornate woodwork, crown molding, and other classic details, choose lighting fixtures with a traditional flair.

Pendant lights with curved metalwork, dangling crystals, or fabric lampshades are perfect for bringing out elegance. Position a few strategically near the center of the tray ceiling to cast a warm, ambient glow.

See also  8 Effortless Ways to Create a Cozy and Inviting Living Room
The Best Ways to Set the Mood in Your Home

Chandeliers are another excellent choice for traditional spaces. Choose an ornate chandelier with branching arms, strands of beads, or cascading crystals to emphasize the sophistication. Hang it right from the center of the recessed tray.

Sconces placed around the perimeter of the ceiling can add lovely accents of light. Choose sconces with candle-inspired bases, curved arms, or other embellishments.

For Contemporary Spaces

If your home has an open floor plan, natural materials, and streamlined finishes, its lighting should also feel fresh.

Recessed can lights are a fantastic option here. Dotting the tray ceiling with tiny, hidden can lights creates even ambient illumination. Go for trims with a sleek, minimalist look.

Choose the Right Lighting Fixtures for Your Tray Ceiling

Track lighting also works beautifully for a contemporary vibe. Run LED track lights around the inside border of the tray ceiling to accentuate the edges and create a frame of light.

Pendants made of glass, metal, or fabric can lighten up the space in an airy, laid-back way. For best results, suspend simple, lightweight pendants from the center of the ceiling.

Lighting Up Focal Points

Another essential strategy is using your tray ceiling lighting to emphasize critical focal points in the space below.

For example, you’ll want to highlight prized artworks or your sleek new flatscreen TV in the living room. In the dining room, illuminate the table, where all the action happens. And in the bedroom, create a cozy spotlight over the bed.

ate the perfect ambiance in your home with tray ceiling lighting

Here’s how to do it:

  • Accent lighting: Use directional lights, such as adjustable recessed spots or track heads, and angle them to point directly at your focal feature.
  • Wall washing – Position sconces or pendants to aim light onto the wall behind a focal point, creating a nice backlighting effect.
  • Downlighting – Suspend pendants directly over key areas to cast a pool of light right where you need it.

Take the time to mark your focal features on the floor plan and plan the lighting setup accordingly. It makes all the difference!

See also  Attic Illumination: Top Tips for Lighting from the Top Down

Mixing Up Your Lighting

While you’ll likely want to choose one or two dominant lighting fixtures based on the room’s style, avoid relying on a single type.

The most successful tray ceiling lighting plans incorporate a thoughtful mix of ambient, task, and accent lighting for a multifunctional, visually attractive space.

Create the Perfect Mood with the Right Lighting

Ambient lighting casts an overall glow to illuminate the entire room. Recessed can lights or decorative pendants work well for this.

Task lighting provides targeted illumination for tasks such as cooking, reading, or grooming. Examples include under-cabinet lights in kitchens and reading lamps in bedrooms.

Accent lighting, as we just discussed, focuses on essential features or areas. Picture recessed spots lighting up the artwork.

By layering these different kinds of lighting, you can ensure the space is fully functional while giving it personality. Feel free to get creative with the combinations!

In my friend Erin’s dining room makeover, for example, we combined delicate crystal pendants, slender wall sconces, and subtle LED tape lighting in one fabulous tray ceiling design.

Choosing the Right Bulbs and Settings

The specific bulbs and fixtures you select also offer much room for creativity. Here are some factors to keep in mind:

Color Temperature

The color temperature, indicated in kelvins (K), dramatically affects mood and function. Low color temperatures like 2700K to 3000K give off a warm, cozy glow perfect for bedrooms and living rooms. Meanwhile, 4000K to 6500K emits a cooler, more energizing light ideal for kitchens, bathrooms, and workspaces.

The Different Types of Tray Ceiling Lighting and How to Choose the Right One for You


Make sure your fixtures and bulbs are dimmable! This lets you control the brightness quickly, creating different scenes, like a romantic dinner or lively party.

Smart Features

Today’s advanced lighting lets you control it with your smartphone, voice assistant, and other smart devices for unparalleled convenience. Choose fixtures that integrate with popular platforms like Philips Hue, Kasa, or Lutron for a futuristic, next-level experience!


See also  11 Ways to Make Your Living Room the Coziest Spot in the House

Finally, opt for energy-efficient LED bulbs whenever possible to save energy and money in the long run. Plus, LEDs last way longer than old-school incandescent and halogen bulbs!

Hiring an Electrician

Installing wiring and electrical for tray ceiling lighting can be tricky, especially if your home is older. I always recommend bringing in a licensed electrician rather than trying to DIY it (I’ve been there, done that – it’s not fun!).

Look for an electrician with significant experience in ceiling lighting and installation. They should be able to handle any wiring challenges, ensure proper fixture placement, and ensure everything is up to code.

Pendant Lights The Perfect Focal Point for Your Space

Be sure to get a few quotes before hiring so you can find the best professional for your project budget. Ask about their pricing structures – some charge hourly, while others charge by the job.

Once you’ve settled on your pro, provide them with inspiration images, your lighting layout plan, and the types of bulbs/fixtures you’ll use. This helps them prepare everything needed for a smooth installation.

Then get ready to have your breathtaking, fully-lit tray ceiling dreams come true!

A Few Final Thoughts

This inspires you to light up that gorgeous tray ceiling in your home! Feel free to get creative and make it your own. Mix and match different styles. Take inspiration from your favorite luxury hotels or restaurants. The possibilities are endless.

Cool Pendant Lights

And remember – your home should tell your story. Every detail, including the lighting, should reflect your style and how you want to feel in that space.

For more tray ceiling tips and ideas, check out my posts on choosing paint colors, picking suitable molding, and decorating with various design aesthetics. Let me know if you have any other lighting questions! I’m always happy to help.