What is a Ceiling Dome?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

When home decorators add a chandelier or other lighting accent to a foyer or other large public room, they often include a decorative accent piece called a ceiling dome. A ceiling dome functions much like the reflective bowl around recessed lighting, but with more aesthetic details. Usually constructed from wood or molded concrete, a vintage ceiling dome was recessed into the ceiling during construction and the chandelier's chain would be installed at a later date.


Modern homes may still feature a ceiling dome or two, especially in foyers and dining rooms where electric chandeliers are found. A recessed ceiling dome can be installed during construction, while other ceiling dome designs allow for surface installation. For the ultimate ceiling dome experience, some designers eliminate the chandelier entirely and create entire skylines or copies of famous paintings inside the dome itself.

The ceiling area of a home has always been a challenge for professional architects and decorators. Smaller accent pieces called ceiling medallions are sometimes used to create visual interest, but ceiling domes are much larger and often more ornate. As the visitor's eyes follow the chandelier chain upwards, an elegant ceiling dome provides a buffer between the grandeur of the lamp and the plain qualities of the ceiling.

A modern twist on the ceiling dome is decidedly more functional than decorative. Stores with numerous surveillance cameras often employ round ceiling domes suspended from the ceiling. A ceiling dome using a shielded plastic cover can allow cameras to swivel 360 degrees without being overly distracting to customers below.

Finding a ceiling dome for a home improvement is not as difficult as one might expect. Many manufacturers still produce a wide variety of ceiling dome designs. Some preplanning may be required for recessed varieties, because the ceiling itself must allow for a 7 or 8 inch deep pocket. A recessed ceiling dome is usually secured through the use of gypsum cement or plaster. A surface-mounted ceiling dome can be installed through a ceiling joist with standard screws.

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular wiseGEEK contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

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