Vaulted ceiling in interior design is not a novelty. By definition, the vault is an arched form of a ceiling or roof which is used in architecture to provide more space. Nowadays, vaulted ceilings are also called cathedral ceilings, raised ceilings, etc., but we shall take a close look at the types of vaults, the pros and cons of vaulted ceilings and their place in modern home construction and interior design.
Ceilings are an integral part of interior design just like the walls, flooring and furniture in one room and the style of the ceiling is not limited to its structural characteristics. Nowadays there are many styles – from a simple, flat surface that barely gets noticed to dramatic and decorative ceilings that immediately grab your attention. We see magnificent dome ceilings, cathedral ceilings, coffered ceilings, spectacularly decorated ceilings which emphasize the individuality and beauty of the home.
Typically, the type of ceiling of any building is designed at the stage of planning. With the development of technology and materials, it is possible to transform your ceiling and change its shape, provided you have enough height. Nowadays the most popular methods to add vaults are the suspension structures and stretched ceilings. Those of you who consider the option to remodel the ceiling of their living room, bathroom, dining room or any other room, should consult an architect and find a company or experienced professionals who could cope with such a project, especially when we talk about stretched ceilings.
What is the difference between a cathedral and a vaulted ceiling?
As we mentioned, people often use the two terms – vaulted and cathedral ceiling – interchangeably. Let’s see what the difference between the two types is.
Cathedral ceilings, as the name suggests, originated from cathedrals. They have symmetrical, equally steeply sloping sides that meet at a ridge in the middle of the room. Usually, cathedral ceilings follow the pitch of the roof.
Vaulted ceilings are not typically constructed to follow the same pitch as the roof of the building. They may have one sloping side, an arched (curved) slope or unequal sloping sides. Depending on the vault, the sides of the ceiling may not be symmetrical and may not meet at the roof center. Vaulted ceilings may have skylights which provide natural light into the room and even if they do not have, there are many options for vaulted ceiling lighting fixtures – recessed lighting, chandeliers or hanging lights – which will accent on the beauty and will enhance the visual effect of the ceiling.
What are the pros and cons of a vaulted ceiling?
Why choose a vaulted ceiling? What are the advantages and disadvantages and how would your home benefit from such a ceiling design?
A vaulted ceiling is a powerful architectural element, a bold style that can improve the look of your home, and also increase its value if you decide to sell it later. It gives the room a spacious appearance and many of you have seen the magnificent arched constructions in cathedrals, temples, churches, rich houses and royal palaces.
One of the major advantages of vaulted ceilings is that they make any room appear airier, bigger, taller and more spacious than it actually is.
In terms of ceiling design, a vault provides an opportunity to expose the ceiling beams and add character, warmth and charm to the home interior which means that any room will be more visually interesting and with unique architectural and decorative feature. Rustic interiors will benefit greatly from the exposed wooden beams on the ceiling and you will not lose the feeling of spaciousness.
Another great benefit that vaulted ceilings provide is the opportunity to use the attic space more efficiently. Any homeowner knows that storage space is never enough and instead of wasting the space under the room you can optimize it and transform it into storage space.
A vaulted ceiling is suitable for any room of the home – living room, bathroom, dining room and bedroom, accents on the height and draws the eye upward.
What are the cons of vaulted ceilings? Surely, some people may enumerate some disadvantages, but it is our belief, that the pluses are more than the minuses.
We pointed out that these ceilings make any space appear bigger, taller and more spacious. On the other hand, if you looked at that as a disadvantage, you may point out that the room will appear less cozy.
The height may be a disadvantage in terms of upkeep – it is more difficult to change a light bulb, for example, or dusting your ceiling fan.
Another consideration that you need to keep in mind is that you may expect bigger energy bills. Larger spaces require more energy to heat or cool down so you need to keep the “energy efficiency” factor in mind.
Vaulted ceiling types and their characteristics
There are several variations of vaulted ceilings and each one of them has unique appearance. Here are some of the most popular types and styles:
Barrel vaulted ceiling (barrel vaults) is the simplest design and this type of vault is also called tunnel or wagon vault. The ceiling is instantly recognizable as it is semicircular and forms an arch from one end of the room to the other. These ceilings are suitable for basements, cellars, hallways or entryways. Brick vaulted ceilings look especially beautiful and are a great addition for rustic or Mediterranean designs. You can paint the ceiling or decorate it in another way. Either way, it will be an elegant element of the overall appearance in your kitchen, living room, bedroom or dining room.
Groin vaulted ceilings are actually two barrel vaults intersecting at 90-degree right angles and create four curving surfaces (ribs) which have an incredible visual appeal. This is a more complicated type of ceiling construction but, without any doubt, if you are looking for a “wow” factor – this is what you need! Whether painted or decorated with magnificent stencils, groin vaults are a real statement in hallways, master bedrooms, kitchens, porches, etc.
Rib vaults are widely popular in Gothic architecture and can be seen in many cathedrals. This design is very similar to the groin vault but features a series of diagonally arched ribs ribs. Rib vaulted ceilings are considered to be stronger. Usually they have four (sometimes six) pointed arches expanding from the walls and meeting into one center.
Fan vaults are not often seen in residential architecture. These are ribs coming outwards from a central point and are typically seen in abbeys, cathedrals or temples.
Dome vault should not be confused with a dome. By definition, a dome vault is an arch, extruded into a third dimension, where a dome is an arch revolved around its vertical axis. Dome vaults look spectacular in home libraries, bathrooms, entryways – in general, small spaces and create the impression that the ceiling in domed.
Cloister vault (domical vault) is a variation of the dome vault and features four concave surfaces meeting at a point above the center of the vault, i.e.q you have a a square or polygonal base instead of spherical.
How to decorate a vaulted ceiling?
When you have a vaulted ceiling in your home you would want to make it a star feature of the room and you need to pay a special attention on the ways to make it not only more spectacular and dramatic, but make it a part of the overall design concept. This means that you need to carefully choose the paint color – it should either blend with the color scheme or be an accent color. In rooms with vaulted ceiling, you need to carefully choose the furniture pieces as well. These are rooms of significant height, so larger pieces are more appropriate. The smaller your furniture is, the larger the room will appear, so keep in mind that your room may seem bare. Accessories and lighting are just as important as furniture pieces and the right lighting can enhance the beauty of your vaulted ceiling. Choose lighting fixtures that are suitable for the style of your interior design – whether rustic, modern or traditional. You have a chance to use oversized chandeliers which are amazingly beautiful and will complement the vaulted ceiling. Look at the gallery and the inspiring ceiling designs!