Inspiring Ideas for Modern Home

Vaulted Ceilings – What They Are, Types and Decor Ideas

Vaulted ceilings, characterized by their arch-like structure and expansive, open appearance, create an airy and spacious atmosphere within a room. These sophisticated architectural elements give the illusion of vastness, captivating the senses with their grandeur. As such, emphasizing and showcasing the stunning features of a vaulted ceiling through various design approaches becomes essential, whether adopting a minimalist aesthetic or a more eclectic, personalized style. It is imperative to give prominence to the vaulted ceiling, as it reflects a significant investment of thought, craftsmanship, and architectural innovation.

16 Ways To Add Decor To Your Vaulted Ceilings

What Is a Vaulted Ceiling?

A vaulted ceiling is an architectural design feature characterized by its arch-like structure and raised height, which creates an open and spacious atmosphere within a room. It is often found in residential spaces, churches, and other large buildings where a sense of grandeur and airiness is desired.

Vaulted Ceiling History

Vaulted ceilings have been an architectural feature in various structures throughout history, originating in ancient civilizations such as Neolithic settlements in Crete and the Egyptian Pyramids. They later became a prominent choice in cathedrals and basilicas due to their capacity to create an expansive, open atmosphere.

Some of the earliest types of vaulted ceilings were domes, barrel vaults, and groin vaults. The rib vault and fan vault were developed in medieval times, adding intricate design elements to these structures.

Vaulted Ceiling Types

Barrel Vault

A continuous, semi-cylindrical arch that extends across the room's length, resembling the shape of a barrel.

Groin Vault

Formed by the intersection of two barrel vaults at right angles, it features a curved edge at the junction, creating a visually striking design.

Rib Vault

Consists of diagonal arches called ribs that intersect and create a web-like pattern, often seen in Gothic architecture in cathedrals and churches.

Fan Vault

An intricate variation of the rib vault, featuring multiple ribs with curved, fan-like patterns radiating from a single point.

Dome Vault

A hemispherical vault that resembles a half-sphere, provides an impressive and visually prominent ceiling.

Cathedral Ceiling

Features equally sloping sides that meet at the room's centerline, similar to the triangular gable of the roof, often seen in places of worship and residential buildings.

Cloister Vault

Also known as a "domical vault," this type features a series of low, segmented barrel vaults, typically seen in the covered walkways of cloisters in monasteries or religious buildings.

Cross Vault

Similar to a groin vault, but with more than two barrel vaults intersecting at various angles, creating intricate configurations.

Quadrant Vault

Consists of a quarter-cylindrical arch, commonly used for porticos, porches, and semi-enclosed spaces.

Segmental Vault

Characterized by a shallow arch that is less than a full semi-circle, often used for ceilings with a modest height.

What Are Vaulted Ceilings in a House?

In residential architecture, vaulted ceilings are characterized by self-supporting arches located underneath the ceiling and above the walls. Almost any house with a slanted roof can support a vaulted ceiling if there is adequate attic space for its construction. High vaults require steeper roof pitches, while shallower vaults can be used in lower-pitched roofs.

Do Vaulted Ceilings Affect Room Acoustics?

Vaulted ceilings can impact room acoustics, often amplifying sound and causing echoes due to the larger volume and angled surfaces. Utilizing sound-absorbing materials, such as carpets, curtains, and wall hangings, can help minimize these acoustic issues and improve the overall sound quality within the room.

Are Vaulted Ceilings Difficult to Maintain?

Maintaining a vaulted ceiling can be more challenging due to its height and unique construction. Cleaning, painting, and changing light bulbs in hard-to-reach areas may require specific tools, such as extended ladders, scaffolding, or lift equipment. Moreover, the increased surface area of vaulted ceilings may require additional effort for cleaning and maintenance.

Do Vaulted Ceilings Affect Interior Design Choices?

The expansive and open atmosphere created by vaulted ceilings allows for unique interior design opportunities. The height enables the use of large decorative elements, such as chandeliers and statement artwork. Additionally, since vaulted ceilings often have more exposed beam-work, integrating these features into the overall design can result in a cohesive and visually appealing aesthetic.

Are Vaulted Ceilings Bad?

Vaulted ceilings are not inherently bad; they bring an antique vibe, elegance, and grand appeal to a room. However, they may be considered out of date or inefficient in terms of space and energy usage. In colder climates, heat loss and increased energy consumption for heating and cooling are significant disadvantages of vaulted ceilings.

Is a Vaulted Ceiling More Expensive?

Constructing a vaulted ceiling increases the square foot costs of a home due to labor and material requirements, including scaffolding or ladder usage, shaping, and trimming. The additional expenses can range from 5% to 20% of the total cost or more, depending on the height, style, and detail of the vault's construction.

Do Vaulted Ceilings Add Value?

Vaulted ceilings can increase a property's value by offering more spacious rooms and larger windows that allow for more natural light. This added space enhances the room's appeal and can lower the energy demand for artificial lighting during daylight hours. However, in warm regions, these larger windows can cause faster heat build-up, requiring more air conditioning usage.

Does a Vaulted Ceiling Need to Be Ventilated?

Vaulted ceilings can create air circulation issues in a home due to the trapped warm air caused by their height. This confined air can also hold cooking odors, pet smells, and other aromas. To improve air circulation in a home with a vaulted ceiling, various adjustments, such as proper ventilation and fans, can be implemented.

Vaulted Ceilings Décor Ideas

The following are 16 strategies for ensuring your magnificent vaulted ceilings receive the recognition they deserve:

1. Best Paint Color For Your Vaulted Ceilings

Finding the most suitable ceiling paint color should be your first priority. You want a color that would blend in well with the theme of your room. This way, your Vaulted ceiling would not seem like a separate, forgotten blank canvas you had no idea what to do with. The color of any room is one of the initial things that will catch the eye of your guests. It tells people so much about your taste, and personality and adds such meaning to your room. Providing it’s the right color, it would immediately draw attention to everything in the entire area.

1. Best Paint Color For Your Vaulted Ceilings

2. Lighting Fixtures - A Must For Your Vaulted Ceilings

Awww wow!!! is the first expression from someone after walking into a room graced by magical lighting fixtures. Your lighting would be the key to illuminating your Vaulted ceiling area. From gorgeous chandeliers to wall lights, they all magnify every inch of your room. If you have a Vaulted ceiling, then you should aspire to have it noticed by your guests. Otherwise, what's the use? Or at times even you and your family members can sit back, relax and soak up the fruits of your labor or well-spent money.

2. Lighting Fixtures - A Must For Your Vaulted Ceilings

3. Vaulted Ceilings Go Well With French Windows

You may ask why? Then again, thinking about it, you would realize it only makes sense. The whole idea of having a high or Vaulted ceiling is to give the impression of being in a fairly large room. Also to create a more airy, lighted area. Yet still maintaining quite a classy interior atmosphere. Personally, traditional exterior French windows add a chic, yet simple décor to the inner and outer parts of any home. In addition, a home with a Vaulted ceiling, glass windows, and doors would give the illusion of being outside vs feeling stuffy, cramped, and crowded in what would be the alternative.

3. Vaulted Ceilings Go Well With French Windows

4. Adding Drapes To Your High Wall/Vaulted Ceiling

Adding drapes to any décor would certainly transcend it, awakening its fullest potential. That being said, drapes that hang close to your vaulted ceiling, would arouse compliments and attention to its lofty character. The undeniable beauty of your architecture would be incredible. Drapes would carry one's eyes upward and inevitably to your vaulted ceiling.

4. Adding Drapes To Your High Wall/vaulted Ceiling

5. Accessorize Your High Wall

Hey! Don't be afraid to go nuts with your wall artwork or lighting. Ensuring of course that the main purpose is achieved. Dressing it with paintings or fancy drawings, or better yet family photos will certainly do. You can arrange them in an ascending or descending order if you so desire. This is provided you want them to be along the same slant as your Vaulted ceiling. You should note, this is not a must. Going parallel to the ground or floor of your ceiling would work equally as well. Have fun decorating while bringing your own personal style into the whole color scheme.

5. Accessorize Your High Wall

6. Patterned Vaulted Ceilings

Most patterned Vaulted ceilings are either Groin shaped or Cathedral. Groin Vault ceiling can be a bit confusing to comprehend, but once you understand what a Barrel Vault ceiling looks like, not so much. Barrel Vault ceilings have their names because they are in the shape of a barrel, similar to a semi-circle looking up. Now just cross or intersect two Barrel-shaped Vault ceilings at their right angle (90 degrees) and there you have your Groin Vault ceiling. This is why the Groin Vault ceiling is also called Double Barrel or Cross Vault. Now here is a reason anyone would want to look up! Oh, the beauty of a Groin Vault ceiling plastered with a fine Victorian pattern.

6. Patterned Vaulted Ceilings

7. Choosing White For Your Vaulted Ceiling/room

If you're looking for true beauty (in my humble opinion), nothing stands out more than a Vaulted ceiling painted in pure white. It may not be your cup of tea, especially with kids and a pet. Thus, white reflects light and makes things appear larger than they are. A white room would brighten and generate a feeling of serenity and clarity in your home. Complete with some Exterior Modern or Contemporary French windows and doors. Voila! Now you have your dream abode. The choice is yours to add another color that would harmonize well with your décor. Black and white always give an elegant, chic look. Black furniture or metallic furnishings would be a stunning contrast to your white wall and ceiling.

7. Choosing White For Your Vaulted Ceiling/room  

8. You Will Want Your Furniture To Blend In

Without a doubt, having one's furniture color fused with the hue of your Vaulted ceilings, walls, or floor would be the perfect amalgam. Sure the alternative would induce a feeling of disorientation and wonderment.


8. You Will Want Your Furniture To Blend In

9. Make Your Tv Work For You

One great way to draw attention to your high or Vaulted ceiling is by using your television. Whether your ceiling is Cathedral or Vaulted shaped, adding a flat-screen wall TV would complement any room. Place it as reasonably close to your ceiling as possible.

9. Make Your Tv Work For You

10. Fireplace Under Your Vaulted Ceiling

Having a fireplace with a stone wall that leads straight up to your Vaulted ceiling would be well in place. Depending on the theme of your room, you can go for a rustic, nautical, or elegant look. So unless you reside in a tropical area, this is always a classic.

10. Fireplace Under Your Vaulted Ceiling 

11. Build Beams In Your Vaulted Ceiling

What a way to add character and  charisma to your vaulted ceiling. I love the rustic, country accompaniment the beam here brings to this room. A complimentary finish.

11. Build Beams In Your Vaulted Ceiling

12. Show-off Your Vaulted Ceiling With Skylights

You don't have to own a studio of some sort to have skylights in your Vaulted ceiling. This will only accentuate and do more justice to your roof. So no need to be bashful if contemplating such a bold move. It will certainly bring in more light and give the illusion of being in a bigger area.

12. Show-off Your Vaulted Ceiling With Skylights

13. Your Vaulted Ceiling Should Be Your Crown And Glory

Talk about adding character and definition to your Vaulted ceiling, if a crown molding doesn't do it, then I don't know what will. You have two choices, hire someone to install them or do it yourself.

13. Your Vaulted Ceiling Should Be Your Crown And Glory

14. A Bookshelf Would Be Great For Your Vaulted Ceiling

A bookcase filled with a library of books all the way to the top of your Vaulted ceiling is another way to go.

14. A Bookshelf Would Be Great For Your Vaulted Ceiling 

15. The Idea Of A Ledge Or Shelf Under Your Vaulted Ceiling

Oh! The numerous decorative ornaments, lights, and plants you can line along this surface just under your vaulted ceiling.

15. The Idea Of A Ledge Or Shelf Under Your Vaulted Ceiling

16. A Loft Would Certainly Create More Space

Also known as an attic or upper deck, depending on what use you make of it. Another way to flaunt your sense of style and unique, elegant taste.

16. A Loft Would Certainly Create More Space

We hope these few ideas were helpful in assisting you with your vaulted ceiling décor. Whatever you decide to do with your interior design, have fun and let it reflect you so that the final decision would be yours. We invite you to share your ideas and thoughts in the comment section below.