Add Design Style with a Bulkhead

Often thought of as a necessary evil to hide pipes and electrical wires, the addition of a bulkhead in a kitchen, dining room, bar or bedroom can actually add a very chic design touch. Whether we are aware of it or not, as human beings we have psychological responses to spatial design elements.  Adding some interest to expansive spaces and ceilings that lack visual appeal can go a long way towards creating a better sense of comfort, style, and interest.  Beyond that, the addition of a bulkhead can accomplish some very specific design goals as well:

Define a Space.  When it comes to open-plan kitchen and living areas, a bulkhead can be used to great effect, serving to define space and function. This bulkhead extends from two walls to span the kitchen, ending in line with the kitchen island. Being white, it contrasts with the timber-lined ceiling in the rest of the large open space. It also offers the opportunity for recessed lighting, pendant lighting and greater air projection.

Enclose the Kitchen.  A dropped ceiling provides a sense of enclosure in the kitchen. In this case, the kitchen bulkhead functions like a canopy extending from the wall of joinery behind.

Have fun with Materials. While a bulkhead can help define the kitchen area, the use of materials can also define the bulkhead. Encased in timber slats and with recessed lighting, the bulkhead here is a standout feature – a perfect accompaniment to the warm leather sofas.

Create a Mood.  Formal or informal, relaxed or refined.  Bulkheads can help create a mood that a flat ceiling just can't do on its own. In this example, it is constructed of the same wood as the chairs and table top that truly sets the dining area on its own.

Tie Elements Together.  Here the bulkhead was designed to break up the ceiling and to add visual interest, but also to provide cohesion with the island to offset against the white cabinets.

Add Consistency to an Overall Theme.  Here the bulkhead constructed of rustic beams plays off the kitchen chairs, the hardwood, and the cabinetry to create an unmistakeable impression of country chic. 

Add Contrast.  Try to look at this kitchen and ignore the bulkhead.  It is clearly an ultra modern, linear motif. But with the addition of the warm wood, the light fixtures and iron stools,  it achieves a sense of modern industrial, and again breaks up what is a rather expansive ceiling.

Create Drama. This bulkhead does double duty hiding the ventilation system while creating a visual impact. It adds a touch of warmth to the gleaming white island and modern cabinetry and furnishings.

Create Lighting Options. Depending on how the bulkhead is designed, it can create a variety of options for both mood lighting and task lighting.

Add Cohesion.  This suspended bulkhead creates cohesion with the material used on the island and cabinetry as well as those found in other areas of the home.  Not only does this create consistency throughout the home, it adds interest and impact not found in a basic vaulted ceiling.