Chefs always have a key ingredient that pulls a recipe together – sometimes it’s salt, or even lemon zest. Whatever the ingredient, it melds the flavors together and really brings a dish alive.

But how do you bring a commercial building together? How do different materials flow so there’s consistency? What can you do to ensure the finished products work together?

An excellent architect paired with a talented interior designer will create a beautiful and functional space, but when it comes to executing that vision you’ll need a general contractor that can come up with transitions so even smallest details flow seamlessly during the buildout and beyond.

How does the wall intersect with the floor? Is there a baseboard or molding? What transitions are there between different flooring types?

To get you started, let’s look at four key elements for your space and how we might be able to solve tricky transitions.  


Most buildings – both existing and newly built – have varying ceiling heights. There might be several different levels in the same space due to piping, architectural features or soffits. How can you naturally transition between those different heights so there isn’t a sudden shift? A bulkhead ceiling – which is an enclosed section of a ceiling that can be either boxed in or dropped down – will do the trick. And a soffit, which conceals plumbing, wiring or ductwork, can also add an interesting architectural feature. For example, a cloud – or drop-down soffit – doesn’t touch the ceiling and looks really neat in a space. You can also use a soffit to add design detail such as curve or fun materials, or one can even follow a restaurant bar and drop lighting such as pendants. 

Another option for ceiling height differences is to change out materials; you might add a piece of wood or metal to transition between different ceiling heights, or leave a transition space open. Be sure to keep an eye on your city and industry’s regulations; for example, commercial kitchens cannot have exposed ceilings.


Often in a commercial space there are different types and levels of flooring. With different levels on the same floor, you’ll need ramps to take your customers from one level to another. Transition strips are often the easiest solution for separating materials, but you and your designer can also get creative with geometric patterns or inlay strips.

Another option is to adjust the surface heights with materials so there’s no need for any type of transition strip. For example, if you put lightweight concrete under the floor, it self-levels so there is no trip hazard. You can also add a subfloor and bring up the tile so there is no need for a transition strip.

Keep in mind that any change of floor height, however minor, will require a transition. For example, even if there’s a half inch height difference between a commercial carpet and the ceramic tile in the next room, you’ll need to add a reducer strip to smooth out the different heights. This type of transition will not only prevent falls but also help with the flow of the space.


Walls also transition between different materials, both vertically and horizontally. If there’s a raw edge of a tile followed by paint on drywall, you’ll want to add Schluter strips or even a material like wood or metal so you don’t see the edge of the tile.

Wall panels, decorative wall cladding, textured finishes and more provide a lot of variation in walls; we’ve installed some live plants designs within walls that require a separate irrigation system. Talk to your general contractor and your commercial designer about the feasibility of your vision, and how the transitions might work, as early in the process as possible.


Corners can be tricky throughout commercial spaces. The bigger corners can get knocked into, especially in crowded spaces such as a bar. Sometimes a corner guard – a metal or plastic piece wrapped around a corner – is an easy fix, but those can get knocked off as well. Consider rounding the edges so your guests don’t hurt themselves if they bump a corner. As you’re designing the layout, you might also consider skipping any corners you can in high traffic areas.

Transitions play a role in every part of your space. There isn’t a single solution that will work for every scenario, but talk to your general contractor about how small details can help your commercial space look sharp and perform for you needs. Reach out if we can be of assistance.