Barrel Ceilings: A How-To Guide

What does a barrel ceiling look like? Well, the barrel ceiling is an architectural interior design element that goes back thousands of years all the way to Ancient Egypt. Not exactly what its name suggests, the barrel ceiling isn’t formed from barrels. Rather, its curved appearance mimics half a barrel, if the barrel was cut in two lengthwise.


One of the many vaulted ceiling designs you could choose for your home, the barrel ceiling, because of its sleek curves, has a distinctively elegant look. Does this mean you should only use a barrel ceiling in your room design if you elegance is your interior design style? Not at all.


Depending on how you configure your barrel ceiling, you can fit this eye-catching architecture into any design scheme. Here are seven interior design ideas for how you can use a barrel ceiling to beautify your space.


Beam It

If elegance is the character you want to create in your space, a simple barrel ceiling will blend right into your design aesthetic. But you can raise the elegant factor by gussying up your barrel ceiling a bit. Instead of using just a plain curved barrel design, combine the barrel shape with curved beams. The addition of the beams, especially if painted the same color as the rest of the ceiling, will create a classic traditional impression.



Confine It

Commonly, a barrel ceiling will extend from one wall to the other, so that the top of the wall on either end of the ceiling will follow the barrel’s curve. If you want a more modern look, however, you can carve the barrel out of the ceiling space well away from one or both walls. This version of a barrel ceiling has more sharp edges, which brings it up to date with current design styles.



Decorate It

In most ceiling design for living rooms, the barrel ceiling is painted the same color as the rest of the room. You don’t have to limit yourself to this design, though. Barrel ceilings can be of any color or texture you desire. Colorful tile, for example, could create a bright, bold look. If you would prefer to have a more rustic personality, however, you could dress down your barrel ceiling with rougher materials like reclaimed wood or brick.



Flip It

Conventionally, a barrel ceiling runs from one end of the room to the other, in line with the room’s furniture footprint. This ceiling design for bedrooms, then, would run parallel with the bed and other furniture. If you want to downplay the chic factor of a barrel ceiling, you can mix it up by flipping the ceiling to run counter to your furniture. This break in the flow generates architectural contrast that is fresh and contemporary.



Segment It

Barrel ceilings are often used in hallways, to stunning effect. A long smooth barrel ceiling, however, can lack impact. To counter this, you can segment the ceiling with alcoves or doorways. The repetition resulting from this design will develop interior design rhythm that has palpable energy.



Shorten It

If you’re not willing to commit an entire room or hallway to a barrel ceiling, consider using the design for a short passageway between rooms. Less than a hall and more than a doorway, a barrel ceiling passage is a connection between rooms that can become a focal point for both spaces.



Trough It

As I said in Confine It, the typical barrel ceiling runs from one wall to the other. Also, its curve extends from one side wall to the opposite one. In other words, the barrel curve generally is the entirety of the ceiling. A particularly arresting variation on this design is creating a sort of trough with a barrel ceiling shape. Insert the barrel into an otherwise flat roof and run it from one end of the room to the other. No matter what other design elements you combine with this configuration, you’ll have cutting-edge drama in your space.



The above seven ideas are just a few of the ways you can use a barrel ceiling to augment your interior design style. When it comes to an interior design wow factor, barrel ceilings pack a powerful punch.


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