“Little boxes on the hillside, little boxes made of ticky tacky…and they all look just the same.” 

I should get the disappointing news out of the way right now: if you are planning on seeing the complete, fully finished product (of a coffered ceiling…because, obviously, the title) you will need to wait another couple of months. This is Part 1 of our coffered ceiling adventure.  So, I might add to this post (and re-post…sorry if this topic bores you) as the project progresses, but for now this is what we’ve got.

If you are on Pinterest at all, you have inevitably seen gorgeous kitchen/dining/living rooms with these spectacular coffered ceilings. See example (this is NOT my pic, I took it off of Pinterest via Houzz):


In one of our very first project homes, Trent and I did a super small version of this in his cigar room (yes, I said “cigar room”…wife of the year, right here!). I remember this being a nice weekend project. That’s because it was a 10’x10′ room.

We decided this home was the perfect home to have the grand, coffered ceilings (partially because we have ceiling space to waste). When we did our last coffered ceiling, we did it with beams and molding and painted/stained them. Easy Peasy. We Trent started doing the math and it became painfully clear that to do the coffered ceilings throughout the main space the same way, would require us to sell our vehicles, all our property and cash out all retirement funds. Just for the beams and molding. Our rooms in this house are HUMONGOUS. In order to get the ceiling to appropriately fit the size of the room, the beams and molding needed to be 12-16 inches tall…and that’s the minimum. Add to this fact that we are talking about 1,200-1,400 sq ft of space in the kitchen/dining and the dollars just kept climbing.

Thankfully, I married up. Trent put his fancy engineering mind to use and came up with a much better, much easier and less expensive way to accomplish the same look. He decided that we would build out all the “boxes” that hang from the ceiling to get the huge size that we need. Then we will drywall those boxes in, making them part of the ceiling. Once that is complete, we will add the molding/trim to make it look like they are just massive beams with 12″ of molding.

Yes, I know this is “cheating.” Yet, it gets us the look we want, while not compromising quality, but keeping it in our budget. Some days it’s just about picking your battles. And since I’ve got my eye on a rather expensive kitchen range, this wasn’t my battle. 

Long story short: if you have wanted to try this but wondered if you could make it work, let this be your starting point. But if I’m being totally honest, I would tell you to just go buy a different house that already has these ceilings…it’s not a project for the faint of heart.

Step 1: Buy 2×2’s (no reason for 2×4 since this carries no weight).

IMG_5764 2

Step 2: Start cutting 2×2’s into the sizes you will need for your boxes.

IMG_5763 2

Step 3: Accept that you must move faster and stop being so organized.


Step 4: Learn from your hubby that you are not actually building the coffered squares. You are basically creating graph paper (think: high school math class) on your ceiling. So, start making long lines and forming them.

IMG_5804 2


Step 5: Turn those cut pieces into a sorta box and make enough for the length of the ceiling.


Step 6: Attach long line boxes (I’m sure they have an actual term but this is my tutorial, so I’ll use whatever phase I choose) to ceiling. **Note: remove all sensitive ears from the house prior to doing this. This extremely non-enjoyable task could cause some slightly inappropriate words.**


Step 7: Go back to Step 1 because there is zero chance you bought enough 2×2’s!

Step 8: Measure and cut all the side slats (that will create the graph look of the coffered ceiling).


Step 9: Make little boxes to squeeze in between the long line boxes. **If you have not started humming/singing Pete Seeger’s “Little Boxes” by this point, consider yourself a miracle. I’ve been singing it for the past 9 days.**


Step 10: Starting with one end of the room, attach the little boxes to the ceiling at the size you want your coffered ceiling to be (3 ft squares for us).

FullSizeRender 100

FullSizeRender 99


And that’s it! The framing portion of the new ceiling is complete. I’m now off to find the very best drywaller in all of the midwest! Have a wonderful weekend and thanks for following along!


  • June 24, 2016 Reply

    Nancy Martin

    Don’t ever think you are boring us! This is so exciting to go through with you.

  • June 24, 2016 Reply

    Judy Marquardt

    I love the information so keep posting. My husband passed away 3 years ago & we’re married for 48 years and did many projects together that we’re not for the faint of heart over the years. I learned how to do much more than I ever planned on, point is I chuckled over the comment of language, brought back a few memories. Thanks!

  • June 24, 2016 Reply


    Great tutorial! My mind is made up: never attempt this! Love the blog!

  • June 24, 2016 Reply

    Jill Powers

    Loved this post. Very cool ceiling and you had me totally laughing!!

  • June 24, 2016 Reply


    You guys are AMAZING! I’m having so much fun following along. Thank you for sharing. So much work for you, but so fun for your readers!

  • June 24, 2016 Reply


    Cannot wait to see this complete. I love finding ways to master design on a budget!!

  • June 25, 2016 Reply


    Love watching the project progress. Thanks for taking us step by step, with details!!!! You guys are amazing!!!

  • July 1, 2016 Reply

    April Vosburgh

    Made my day. Chuckling mightily as I go out the door.

  • July 1, 2016 Reply

    Julie Smies

    I thought Trent was the very best drywaller in the Midwest. Oh, I see, you just haven’t told him yet. 😃❤️💙💚💛💜.
    Love you!

  • July 2, 2016 Reply

    Dawn Sherwood

    Great post! So cool and thanks for the laughs. Neat to see the progress😄

  • July 16, 2016 Reply

    John Morris

    I can’t wait to see it when finished. I am thinking about doing the same in my living room (11 foot ceilings ). I wonder if it would be easier to drywall the ceiling first? I understand you didn’t because of utilities but I see a whole lot of nailers that need to be added.

  • November 28, 2017 Reply


    What were the dimension of your boxes? 8X8 or 10×10? Not sure how big to make mine on a two story foyer and living room.

  • March 17, 2018 Reply


    Is it drywall on the inside of the coffer boxes or have you added wide trim?

Leave a Comment

Error: Please check your entries!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.