Top Off Your Bar Design With a Unique & Custom Ceiling

After toasting “bottoms-up,” drinkers tilt their heads back and turn their gaze towards the ceiling. Perhaps that is why drinking establishments pay extra attention to how they top off a bar. Moreover, a ceiling is usually the largest and most visible surface in a room, and it goes a long way toward creating the look and ambiance of an establishment.

Thermoformed ceilings are an increasingly popular type of ceiling that can help create just the right personality for a bar. For example, Ceilume, the leading manufacturer of thermoformed ceiling panels and tiles, offers 45 decorative styles with molded relief that range from modern geometric patterns to classical coffers and replicas of old stamped metal panels. They come in 16 colors, faux wood and metallic finishes, and unique light-transmitting materials.

More than just a pretty face, Ceilume ceilings offer performance characteristics not available from other ceiling products. For example, they are lighter in weight and easier to install than other ceilings. Their acoustical properties can be tuned to create the desired ambient sound level. And, because they are waterproof and washable, they can be installed over exposed kitchens and food preparation areas.

Ceilume panels and tiles can be used in new designs or renovations, installed in standard suspended ceiling grids, and applied directly to the bottom gypsum board or other flat ceiling substrates. They are also more affordable than many ceiling products, to keep the room’s cover charges low.

Here are some recent projects illustrating the design versatility of thermoformed ceilings:

Italian Kitchen

Italian Kitchen ceilume
Photo © Martin Knowles Photo/Media

The bar at Italian Kitchen in Vancouver, BC is also a food preparation station, so the ceiling had to meet health department requirements for cleanability.

This project also required that the existing T-bar suspended ceiling grid be retained in the new design.

Monica Jeffers, of Monica Jeffers Interior Design, Squamish, B.C. chose to use the washable thermoformed Orleans ceiling panels from Ceilume in the color Sand.

To increase the perception of greater ceiling height, Jeffers designed dropped millwork beams that divide the ceiling into eight-foot-by-eight-foot sections. “It seems counterintuitive,” Jeffers explains, but the different levels create the illusion of more height, “just by bringing the millwork grid down four inches.” The existing T-bar grid was covered with self-adhering Ceilume Decorative Strips to match the panels.

Read the full case study.

Five Roses Pub

five roses pub ceilume
Photo courtesy of

Evangeline panels from Ceilume in a suspended ceiling grid are the contemporary way to create a traditional look at the Five Roses Pub in Rosemont, Illinois.

Moonfire Lounge

moonfire lounge ceilume
Photo courtesy of Austin VIP Interiors

When D.J.s spin vinyl in the Moonfire Lounge in Austin, Texas, they do so under a ceiling that is also made of vinyl. The black Regency panels from Ceilume repeat the shape of both the old LPs and the club’s lunar namesake.

The Little Jumbo

ceilume the little jumbo
Photo courtesy of Live By Design

The Little Jumbo bar and restaurant in Vancouver, British Columbia aimed to recreate a 1920’s New York Speakeasy look. To complete the effect, they wanted the look of “old-fashioned tin ceiling tiles,” says Sara Baxter, owner and principal designer of Live By Design.

So-called tin ceilings—actually made of steel—were originally manufactured as an affordable substitute for ornate molded plaster, and they became very popular in North America starting in the late 1800’s. Pressed-metal tiles are still manufactured, and they are still installed by a labor-intensive process involving furring strips and nailing, which means high installation costs.

Instead, Baxter opted to go with Ceilume thermoformed tiles in the Jackson style, a design that features four shallow coffer-like squares per 24-inch-by-24-inch tile, often seen in historic buildings. Many of Ceilume’s 39 styles replicate traditional decorative plaster patterns (and their pressed-metal imitations) but because they are lightweight vinyl, they can be installed quickly and easily using adhesives. “Not being metal,” says Baxter, “made them much easier to install.”

The metallic-finish tiles glow in the restaurant’s warm-toned lighting. They are easy to clean, code compliant for use over food-service areas, non-corroding, and durable. The ceiling tiles top off the design perfectly, completing what Sara Baxter calls “a cool, fun cocktail bar that really feels like a speakeasy.”

Read the full case study.


Ceilume is the leading manufacturer of thermoformed ceiling and wall tiles and panels. The company’s roots go back to when “Mid-Century was Modern” and the pioneers of modular ceilings. The family-owned business is located in California’s wine country and occupies a historic apple-packing warehouse. With an eye on the future, Ceilume’s research and development continues to improve interior finish systems to meet changing environmental, performance, and aesthetic needs. For more information, see