Ceiling medallions are ornamental features that are installed on ceilings to create interest. They are most commonly round, though this doesn’t have to be the case, and are often found a round chandeliers and other lighting fixtures.
Medallions originally rose in popularity during the 19th century and were favored by those in the upper-middle class living in Victorian homes. At that time, medallions were made from plaster of Paris, plaster, wood, or papier-mache, the latter of which was the most commonly used material, most likely due to price. In most cases, they featured floral or leafy designs – typically something botanical – though there were some were more streamlined and had what we would consider a modern, simple design today.
Though they have gone through various degrees of popularity over the years, ceiling medallions remain a popular option today, especially in larger rooms and higher-end homes. They are used by designers to add interest on an otherwise plain surface – the ceiling – and create a smoother transition between a lighting fixture and the ceiling.
Ceiling medallions are not always just decorative, though they can be. Many home designers and owners also use them to cover the fixtures box so the electrical work and other flaws cannot be seen.
Modern medallions are typically constructed of coated polyurethane foam and are mass-produced, though if you’re willing to make a financial investment, you’d still be able to get a hand-molded artisan design. There are endless styles and designs to choose from so, regardless of the look of your home currently or the look you’re going for in your updated home, you are bound to find something that works for you.
Why Would You Put a Ceiling Medallion in Your Space?
There are plenty of reasons why homeowners opt to use ceiling medallions. They are functional and cover parts of the lighting fixture or mistakes that you don't want anyone to see. They add interest to the ceiling and raise the eye to make the room appear larger. They can also make a large room feel warmer and cozier by tightening up the space.
Ceiling medallions can draw attention to certain features in a room, creating interest in the space or letting you know what the focal point is as soon as you enter. Think about it this way: if you’re walking into a vast dining room and you want people to focus on the area around the dining table, you can further focus attention by installing light and a medallion or medallions above the table. The message is “Look here! This is the purpose of this room.”
No matter why you choose to install a ceiling medallion in your space, there are a few things you should know about how they work, what they’re made of, and to install them.
If you’re shopping for a ceiling medallion and aren’t sure where to begin, this list of tips can help.
What to Consider When Choosing a Ceiling Medallion
There are several things you should consider when choosing a ceiling medallion, including:
Size of the Medallion
One of the first and most important things to decide about the ceiling medallion in a space is how big it should be. The medallion should be proportional to the room size. Luckily, designers use a formula to make their decision-making easier and you can apply the same formula when choosing your ceiling medallion.
- Measure the length and width of your room
- Multiply those numbers to get the square footage of the space
- Divide that number by 7 to get the diameter in inches of the medallion
This formula is a great guideline but if you don’t like the outcome you don’t have to use it. Plus, the size of the light fixture you’re working with also plays a role. In most cases, you don’t need to measure, you can just use the fixture as your guide. If the medallion is about the same diameter as the chandelier at its widest point, your set-up will likely look proportionate. If you’re dealing with an ornate design and your room features a great deal of elaborate trim work, the medallion can be sized up. On the other hand, if you’re working on a simple, small room, size the medallion down slightly to less than the fixture at its widest point.
You can typically find pre-made medallions in sizes ranging from 4 inches to more than 60 inches. If you want a size outside of that range, you’ll likely need to have something custom made. Your best bet in a larger room, though, is to install multiple light fixtures and use multiple medallions. Not only does this keep the proportions in check, but it also ensures that the room is properly lit.
Style of the Medallion
Once you know what size you need, you can narrow down the selection of medallions available by style. This is primarily dictated by the overall style of your room. More ornate rooms work better with more ornate medallions and simple medallions look best in simpler homes. There are styles of ceiling medallions out there for every taste and style.
If you’re not sure how to proceed with choosing a style for your space, consider other elements in the room’s design. For instance, is their crown molding or a chair rail? How ornate are these things? Medallions are architectural features and should match the rest of the room but if you have your heart set on a medallion that doesn’t quite fit the style of the room, don’t discount it entirely. You can create a more eclectic look in the space to make a mismatched medallion look like it was intentional instead of a design mistake.
Add Style and Interest
It’s no wonder ceiling medallions have been around since the 19th century. Incorporating a ceiling medallion into a room design is an easy way to make a big impact. When done right, they add interest in style in a way that few design elements can.