This translucent shade will cast various shades of green onto the ceiling when the light is turned on.

How to Illuminate Your Ceilings

by Kathy Adams

A ceiling that's worth looking at, such as one fitted with decorative tiles or painted to look like a sunset, is worth illuminating well. A regular ceiling fixture just doesn't do the job, as it's designed to illuminate the room below rather than the ceiling itself. Specialty lighting installed in strategic areas will highlight the areas you want to show off the most.

1. Directional Display

Directional lights, such as track lights and spot lights, come in handy for a vaulted ceiling, especially one with unusual angles or beams. Install lights near the perimeters of the room and point them up into areas you'd like to illuminate. Pendant lights or recessed lights at the peaks of vaulted areas highlight the highest portions of the ceiling and will cast a glow over the surrounding room as well.

2. Hidden Accents

Cove lighting around the perimeter of the room hides the light source itself, tucked away behind crown molding or trim. Rope lighting attached to a dimmer allows customized light levels with the source hidden from view. Instead of white rope lights, swap the lighting out for colors for special seasons, such as red or green around the winter holidays, orange or purple around Halloween. Specialty molding made of foam includes a channel for electrical wiring; it's designed to hide those wires as you add indirect lighting along the edge of the ceiling.

3. Fiber Optic Fantasies

Fiber optic lighting, installed above ceiling panels or as a specialty fabric covering, illuminates the entire ceiling with pinpoints of simulated starlight, emulating the night sky when the main lights are turned off. Fiber optic ceiling panels contain tiny pinpricks with fiber optic strands in them, lit from a hidden light source above the panels. Fiber optic fabric has the illuminated fibers embedded within, offering a covering that can be moved or removed at will.

4. Ceiling Fans and Skylights

While many ceiling fans feature a light kit for general room lighting, some have built-in uplights, which cast an ambient glow upon the ceiling. These offer gentle mood lighting for areas such as a bedroom or home entertainment area when task or full lighting is not required. A skylight illuminates the ceiling and room on a sunny day. At night, moonlight shines through on some clear nights, or offers an ambient white glow from behind clouds.

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