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How to Arrange Wooden Ceiling Beams Around Lights and Fixtures

wooden ceiling beams

Adding wooden ceiling beams to your home can bring a sense of both refined style and rustic warmth. Dark wood beams define the lines of your home while warm cross-beams make the room feel more natural without removing the comforts of sealed drywall. Putting up decorative ceiling beams is not a complex renovation, but it does take some planning.


Well-spaced ceiling beams can really make a room pop if you know where to put them. It's best to arrange your decorative ceiling beams based on the lines of the room, the placement of your light fixtures, and the inner construction of your ceiling. Here are a few smart ceiling beam arrangement tips before you get started:


Map Your Ceiling


First, figure out your ceiling. You will be using the beams in the current ceiling and walls to secure your decorative ceiling beams. This means knowing where those beams are. Use a stud-finder to locate the first beams in your ceiling, then track and map them. You don't have to draw on your ceiling, but you should create a digital or paper map with measured notations.


This will give you a map of where you can secure your decorative finishes, which can also help determine where to put your ceiling beams.


Ceiling Beam Arrangement Styles


There are three standard ways to approach decorative wooden ceiling beam designs. The first is to follow the lines of the room. The second is to create warm and homey cross beams that criss-cross the ceiling. The third arrangement is to divide your ceiling into thirds with ceiling beams.


Follow the Lines


To follow the lines of your room with ceiling beams, line the edges and corners and follow the direction that the ceiling moves. This works particularly well in rooms with an angled-roof ceiling and those with interesting architecture to accent.




In rooms with wide-open ceilings and rooms with square sections, cross-beams can be an elegant way to decorate your ceiling. Beams that cross each-other separate your ceiling into squares or rectangles that can provide shape to an otherwise shapeless room. Cross-beams can also make side-rooms more integral in an open floor plan.


Ceiling Thirds


If you need to work around the center of your ceiling or add only minimal ceiling beams, consider thirds. Thirds are elegant and can subtly define changes in the room. You can define even thirds around a central section or you can widen or shrink the center third.


Working Around Light Fixtures


Light fixture placement is your second serious consideration. Most of the time, you will want to work with the current light fixtures, framing them and enhancing the quality of light in the room. In some cases, you might choose to block a current light fixture or even install something new instead.


Working With Your Light Fixtures


If you're working with current light fixtures, your goal is to avoid covering any while still mapping attractive new lines in the ceiling. For a central light, thirds is often your safest approach. For recessed or multi-point lighting, draw your lines offset from the lighting or use the lighting as your sectioned focal points.


Block or Pass-Through a Fixture


You can actually choose to cover a current light fixture with a ceiling beam as well. Remove the fixture and tuck the wires into the box in the ceiling. Then use the beam to cover the hole. You might even drill a hole in your beam to pass the fixture wires through.


Install a New Light Fixture


If the ceiling beams completely reimagine your ceiling, that's alright. You can absolutely hire a professional to install a new ceiling fixture in your new room focal points.


Light Angle and Level 


Don't forget about blocking light angles. Recessed lights and lights close to the ceiling can be blocked by thick ceiling beams. Pendant lights and chandeliers are the most likely to provide full illumination by hanging below the level of your ceiling beams. Recessed canister lighting is still useful for whole-room lighting from directly above.


Visualize Before Installing


Finally, remember to visualize your ceiling beam design before you begin the installation process. Use an AR design app (there are many) that can take photos of your current room and render what that room would look like with various ceiling beam designs.



Here at Worthington Millwork, we can help you find the perfect ceiling beams for any home design. Talk to us about the color, length, and design you want and we'll help you make it happen. Contact us today for more insights into your wooden ceiling beam home improvements.