The Art of Ceiling Design

When it comes to ceiling design the best advice I can give is to work with a professional designer.  There are just so many variables to consider and the ceiling features, combined with the detailed lighting layout, really bring a room together so beautifully.

Before you can start with your ceiling design, the following need to be addressed:

  • Will you have ducted aircon? The ceiling design will be affected by the position of the aircon units within the ceiling as well as the duct and grill positions.
  • Audio visual (whether there be speakers in the ceiling and their positions).
  • How will the windows be treated: curtains, blinds or shutters? (Consider recessed curtain pelmets for curtains and roller blinds).
  • Consider where you would like to have features and possible chandeliers or pendants (over dining table, breakfast nook or perhaps something over the bed).

My preference for any ceiling design is simple, clean lines.  Curves and rounded shapes can look messy if not installed absolutely perfectly by the ceiling specialist. I am also not a fan of designing the ceiling in isolation or having too many ceiling features just because you feel it would be interesting.  You need to step back and try to visualise at the interior as a whole: consider which walls are going to be wallpapered, the positioning of the feature lighting, furniture positions and décor items.  I enjoy finding feature areas (such as a fireplace or feature wall) and using the ceiling and lighting to create a ‘wow’ factor.

I also enjoy feature dropped bulkheads or recesses to highlight certain areas of the Interior, mainly:

  • Above the dining table
  • Above the kitchen island or breakfast nook (usually with some interesting pendants)
  • If there is a feature wall of tiles or wallpaper I might design a bulkhead or recesses with lots of lighting so we can highlight this feature wall
  • Perhaps a center recess in a lounge or bedroom with a central feature light


Cornices ensure there is a neat finish between the painted walls and the white ceilings.  While there are some lovely polystyrene cornices you can use with your ceilings I prefer the “less is more” approach, which is why I love the recessed cornices, as the disappear into the ceiling but still ensure you get that neat finish.

I paint my ceilings white for residential interiors, however a feature recess can be painted a colour or can be wallpapered with great results. I love a black ceiling for home theatres and also black ceilings or black painted feature recesses (complete with black spot lights) in commercial interiors, coloured concealed rope lighting are great for certain areas.

Your choice of curtains or roller blinds can also affect the design of the ceilings so make these decisions early on.  Recessed curtain pelmets can be positioned at the windows giving the impression that the curtains just appear from within the ceilings, best of all you do not see the fittings.  The roller blinds will also completely disappear into the recesses giving the room a clean, open look.  Ensure that these recesses either go to the slab (which needs to be plastered and painted) or that a strong board such as shutterply is used so that the curtains can be fitted securely.  Using plasterboard in the recesses is going to be a problem as the weight of the curtains will pull the fittings out of the board as soon as you hang the curtains.

And finally the light fittings combined with the ceiling design pull the whole thing together and go a long way to creating the final ambiance of the room.  Currently the downlights of my choice are the round white fittings with the very thin rim in a matt finish.  I love these fittings as they pretty much disappear so you mainly see a while ceiling with pools of light (if the downlight rim is thin enough). Of course I love to use rope lighting concealed within the ceiling in TV rooms (and other feature rooms) so that you can turn off all the lighting and just have a calming glow while watching a movie.

Best of luck with your ceiling designs and remember to contact Jossi Design if you need any assistance with your ceiling designs.

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Passionate about Design

With an eye for the finer details and a passion for creating breathtaking end results, Jossi Design is one of Durban’s most recognised and celebrated interior design agencies. Practicing in the industry for over 15 years, we’ve cultivated strong relationships with clients across the country and internationally.

Committed to style, creativity and uncompromised service, Jossi Design strives to deliver eye-catching design that carefully considers function, comfort and style. Through a keen interest in emerging and current trends, we aim to achieve the right balance of contemporary chic and timeless finishes that reflects all client personalities and individual tastes.

Founded by Jocelyn Jones in 2006, the business has evolved to encompass a broad spectrum of design projects in all sectors of interior design.