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Designers nowadays pay a lot of attention to cathedral and vaulted ceilings, right because these can make rooms look larger and more dramatic.

Of course, they will make your design project slightly more complicated (you will have to choose lights, accessories, and furniture that support their looks), and you will have to consider them for every future décor decision. In most cases, it’s more of a luxury living room option.

So does vaulted ceiling living room decorating make sense?

Let’s go through some of the frequently asked questions that you might have when it comes to vaulted ceilings.

Are vaulted ceilings expensive?

Vaulted ceilings are more expensive than regular ceilings.  This is because they are taking more time and energy to build.  They also use more materials.  The steep roofline in vaulted ceilings increases the size of your ceiling.  These factors make vaulted ceilings more costly to install.

How much does it cost to make a vaulted ceiling?

The cost of a vaulted ceiling will depend on the size of your room and the pitch of your roof. An average room size of 20 feet by 20 feet will create a ceiling which reaches approximately 12 feet at its peak.  The cost of installing a vaulted ceiling would be approximately $18,000 to $25,000.

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What is the difference between a cathedral and a vaulted ceiling?

Vaulted ceilings are often called cathedral ceilings.  This is because in times gone by, cathedrals were some of the first spaces to introduce high ceilings.  However, there are some differences. Architects explain that a cathedral ceiling is symmetrical.  A cathedral ceiling reaches a peak in a central spot, mirroring the shape of the roof. Both sides are equally steep. A vaulted ceiling generally doesn’t mirror the shape of the roof.

What is considered a vaulted ceiling, or what is a vaulted ceiling?

Vaulted ceilings are high ceilings, which give a sense of airiness to a room.  Some vaulted ceilings are arched or pitched, but this does not have to be the case.

Instead, a ceiling which is higher than the standard 8 feet may be regarded as vaulted.  Vaulted ceilings are not restricted to any particular appearance or design, and will change over time as buildings evolve or change with the times.

What is the point of vaulted ceilings?

Vaulted ceilings help to create space within a room by extending the ceiling or room.  A vaulted ceiling will also increase the amount of present within your room.  They will also add increased visual impact to a room.

Vaulted ceilings can be built either heightening the ceiling in a room above ground, or in an underground room.  The vaulted thrust of the roof needs a counter-resistant space.  When a room has been built underground, the ground’s surface will provide the counter-resistance.

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Do high ceilings keep houses cool?

When you add vaulted ceilings to your home, you will be increasing the amount of air present within a room.  However, although it will be easier to cool your room, a vaulted ceiling will add to your heating or cooling bill.  Although hot air rises, and a vaulted ceiling can offer a space for warm air, you will have an increased volume of air to heat up or cool down.  This will increase your energy usage.

Can you add vaulted ceilings to your house?

If you’re looking to increase the visual impact of your room or make use of dead space, a vaulted ceiling may be the answer.  In an average room of 20 feet by 20 feet, you will be able to achieve an 11 to 12 foot pitch.  This can give your room a spacious appearance.  The cost, however, can be high.  You’ll need to budget between $18,000 and $25,000 dollars for this alteration.

Do vaulted ceilings need to be vented?

Up until recently, vaulted ceilings had to be vented with channels placed under the roof sheathing.  Many builders still work with these specifications in mind.  However, the main goal is to ensure that your vaulted ceiling is airtight.  Once this has been established, venting becomes irrelevant.

Here are some interesting vaulted ceiling living room ideas and useful tricks you should consider when choosing this concept.

How to paint vaulted ceilings

Home-Addition Vaulted Ceiling Living Room Design IdeasImage source: L Marie Interior Design

The vaulted ceiling living room paint color should either support the nature of this solution, or detract from it completely.

A good course of action is to make walls darker than the ceiling, or in full contrast to it, so that the eye would instantly be attracted towards the lovely ornamentations.

Used reversely, this technique helps make the room intimate despite of the official ceiling, and you can make the place look even more harmonious and charming by covering the ceiling with few wooden planks.

Make sure all planks have the same style and color, and that they genuinely enrich the current flow in your living room or dining room. A good choice would be to opt for cedar planks or natural pain, so that the tiny cracks and knothole dots would make the room look more rustic.

For a modern scenario, use glossy-finished black and dark brown planks, while for a fresher and more relaxing ambiance, opt for snowy white and more exposed planks.

If you want your living room to look like a timeless and elegant villa, all you’d need to do is to add Venetian plaster with joint compound.

Here are some more tips about this:

Use a large roller

When painting a vaulted ceiling, use the largest roller you can find.  This will often be an 18 inch roller.  Although a large roller will feel expensive and even heavy to use, it will be well worth it.  A large roller will help you to work efficiently.  When painting a vaulted ceiling remember to place drip cloths onto your floors and surfaces to protect them from splatters.  Painting your vaulted ceilings will create a fresh, clean look to your room.

Work with a pole to reach the high spots

A vaulted ceiling may often have hard to reach areas.  Use a pole which fits into the end of your roller in order to access high areas.  Using a pole will also give you access to a heightened surface area.  When combined with ladders, you will be able to access all the hard to reach areas with ease.

Add an extension pole to your brush

When painting your trim, add an extension pole to your brush.  This will give you greater control over your brush as you neaten up the edges.

Invest in quality drop cloths

When you’re painting ceilings, your goal will be to protect your floors, surfaces and furniture from splashes or paint splatters.  Invest in the best canvas quality drop cloths you can find.  This will mean super absorbency.  When covering furniture or wooden surfaces, plastic drop cloths are often useful. Again, go for quality.  The thicker your plastic, the less likely your cloths are to blow away.  This will keep your furniture protected as well as protect you from unfortunate smears or drips.

Keep a cloth and a bucket of water close by

Your drop sheets will protect your surfaces, but by cleaning up any large drips or spills, you’ll prevent them from spreading.  Keep a bucket of soapy water and a couple of cloths handy to clean up any spills.  This will keep your surface areas clean and easy to work with.  Your cloths will also help to protect your clothes.  Wet paint is far easier to clean up than dried paint.

Use a variety of different ladders

Vaulted ceilings are often different heights.  In some areas you’ll need a simple step ladder to paint your walls while at the pitch you will need a 12 foot ladder.  Instead of dragging around heavy equipment, use ladders or stools at the heights most suited to each.  This will keep your painting light and efficient.

Paint your mouldings first

Your mouldings are often finicky and may leave raw edges.  By painting them before you start with your walls, you’ll be able to smooth out the edges later.  When painting, protect your carpets by using a paint guide.  You can wipe it off each time you move into a new area to keep it clean.

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Tape your mouldings to keep them neat

No matter how experienced you are as a painter, you will always benefit by painting your mouldings.  Tape will keep the lines between your mouldings and walls crisp and clear.  You may have to go back and do some touch ups once you remove the tape, however, as there will be imperfections.  Try to remove your tape quickly.  This is because old tape can be hard to remove, and may mess up your paint job.

Work with a fresh brush for cut in lines

As you paint with a brush, the bristles start to spread, losing their crisp, clear lines.  When creating cut in lines, always use a new brush.  This will keep your lines clean.  Wooster and Whizz brushes often make clear, crisp lines.  Remember to select your sizes for the job you require.  A smaller brush is more effective for tricky or hard to reach surface areas.

Clean your brushes regularly

If you invest in great paint brushes, you’ll want them to last as long as possible.  Cleaning them regularly protects them from dried paint which will stiffen the bristles and prevent flexibility.  Some painters keep their brushes wrapped in a plastic bag while taking a break.

However, paint can still dry into the brush.  Instead of taking the risk, wash out your brushes while you take a break.  Soak your brushes in water and rub them with dish washing liquid until the water runs clear.  Clean them out with a painter’s comb and rinse again.  This will protect your brushes from drying out.  Leave to dry upright.

Finish off any imperfect areas

Whenever you paint, you’ll always have small areas which are imperfect, or where the paint hasn’t covered properly.  After a long day, you may not have the energy to touch up.  You may not even notice them.  However, touch ups will make all the difference to your job.

A professional painting job will always be properly finished off.  Wait a day or two, and search for imperfections while the light is bright.  Touch up all of the incomplete or imperfect areas.  Voila!  Your painting job will be complete!

Choosing the right furniture

Promontory-Mountain-Getaway-Habitations-Residential-Design-Group Vaulted Ceiling Living Room Design IdeasImage source: Habitations Residential Design Group

With a vaulted, cathedral ceiling in place, the best furniture choices are always statement pieces and overstuffed elements.

The smaller or more delicate your furniture is, the larger the room will appear, and the more it will seem that you didn’t use space properly.

Instead, consider sturdy and solid wooden tables, plus-size sectionals, and the largest cushions you can find. This means that you should stay away from IKEA living rooms.

Arrange them neatly and close to the walls, so that the room will look more open, but yet with a cozy and intimate feeling your family will love.

Choosing the right accessories

Yellowstone-Club-Residence-Tate-Interiors Vaulted Ceiling Living Room Design IdeasImage source: Tate Interiors

The best thing about vaulted ceiling design is the unlimited room for decorating experiments, including the possibility to add oversized and high pieces.

We recommend birdcages made of wrought iron, sculpture motifs, and even taller floral arrangements you couldn’t place in your living room so far.

Another good idea is to hang extra large artwork, including beautiful tapestries, murals, and contemporary framed prints.

Foliage tricks and ideas

A vaulted ceiling living room will also benefit from high silk trees which accentuate its dimensions, and make the environment lush and more pleasant.

Those of you who already have walls with recessed shelves could consider hanging plants, and using those as catchy decorations that disconnect the continuity of large and apparently empty walls.

Choosing the right vaulted ceiling living room lighting

The-Savannah-Model-at-The-Estuary-Clive-Daniel-Home Vaulted Ceiling Living Room Design IdeasImage source: Clive Daniel Home

Lighting is the strongest tool that can accentuate the beauty of your vaulted ceilings, and make them look both soothing and dramatic.

If you want them to attract attention, simply use recessed light cans right within the ceiling, or replace those with a single pending fixture that looks large and impressive.

If you’re looking for a more intimate and cozy ambiance, up light the room with small floor fixtures.

Choosing the right vaulted ceiling color

Dana-Point-Custom-Home-Corbin-Reeves-Construction Vaulted Ceiling Living Room Design IdeasImage source: Corbin Reeves Construction

The reason why people do the effort of transforming regular ceilings into vaulted ones is that they want those to help them add depth and visual spaciousness to their rooms and choosing the right color for their project is critical for a good result.

The colors, shades, and surrounding determine the effect of a vaulted ceiling in many ways – bold and deep choices will make it look lower and intimate, while lighter ones add extra space and a fresher appearance.

In both cases, it is the ceiling that has to stand out, in particular if the owner is creative and wishes to express himself using some ceiling art.

Play with the ceiling’s shades

Most-Recent-Favorites-The-Luxury-Level Vaulted Ceiling Living Room Design IdeasImage source: The Luxury Level

If you want the vaulted ceiling to appear lower and more massive, use a darker color.

For an intimate and cozy environment, that color should match the one of the walls (be slightly darker, though).

A solid choice, for instance, is to add a dark blue ceiling to a room with pale blue walls.

In the opposite case, when looking to make the ceiling look higher than it actually is, choose a color lighter than the one of the walls, or ask the vendor to prepare a special trial batch from that color (210, 25, or 50%).

Test this combination on a small portion of your wall and ceiling, and you will get the idea of how this could look in your room.

Warm the room up

Interior-Living-Room-Nautilus-Architects-LLC Vaulted Ceiling Living Room Design IdeasImage source: Nautilus Architects LLC

The reason why we always recommend warmer colors in vaulted ceiling rooms is to prevent the distant and cool atmosphere created by the ceiling’s unusual height.

This is not a pleasant feeling in what is supposed to be an engaging and welcoming living room, so try to use warm shades as often as possible.

If you’ve already opted for cooler walls, combine those with medium tan ceilings and warmer accessories.

Pay attention to architectural details

Historic-House-in-Pasadena-JAMES-V.-COANE-ASSOCIATES-ARCHITECTS Vaulted Ceiling Living Room Design IdeasImage source: JAMES V. COANE & ASSOCIATES, ARCHITECTS

When choosing a color, the decisive factors will be the architectural details of your ceiling.

In case there are beams, low arches, or floating pieces, the ceiling will already appear smaller and lower, and you won’t need to use a dark color to obtain the same result.

Therefore, you can completely dismiss the idea of using a solid color, and opt for patterned design instead.

Consider lighting as well, as it will play a critical role on how the applied shades are going to look.

Give all light sources in the room a second look, and try to estimate how much of their power will be projected in the ceiling’s direction.

This will help you determine which colors you need, and where exactly those should be applied.

Plan carefully

Westlake-Contemporary-Butterfield-Custom-Homes Vaulted Ceiling Living Room Design IdeasImage source: Butterfield Custom Homes

There is a reason why vaulted ceilings look so beautiful – designers invest an incredible amount of time and attention to detail to produce a stunning result.

You should also plan your cathedral ceiling carefully, starting with the right colors, and ending up with vaulted ceiling pictures or vaulted ceiling framing.

Whatever you’ve chosen, use the colors your room needs to obtain more flavor and depth, and benefit as much as you can from the surroundings.

Pick the right furniture and accessories, and coordinate them pleasantly to give the room a beautiful and practical flow.

The advantages of vaulted ceilings

Gallery-Uban-Pad Vaulted Ceiling Living Room Design IdeasImage source: Urban Pad

  • They make rooms look larger and more spacious
  • They make dark rooms appear brighter
  • They are decorative, and add depth and visual interest even to the smallest and most standard room.

The disadvantages of vaulted ceilings

  • They aren’t as intimate and cozy as some homeowners would like them to be
  • They give rise to unexpected art placement challenges
  • They cause homeowners to neglect the real proportions of their place, and scale up right the furniture that they will need.

Ending thoughts on having vaulted ceilings

Clean-European-Vanguard-Studio-Inc. Vaulted Ceiling Living Room Design IdeasImage source: Vanguard Studio Inc.

Cathedral and vaulted ceilings are indeed challenging décor solutions, but there are still ways to make those happen in standard height rooms.

They will instantly cheer up and add drama in an open-concept, airy room, also depending on the style and color palette you’ve decided to use.

Plus, they are some of the coolest and least time-consuming ways to make your old and dull ceiling look exciting and dazzling.

A vaulted ceiling is an architectural term used to provide a space with a ceiling or roof. The simplest kind of vault is the barrel vault, which is generally semicircular in shape. There is a lot more design potential for vaulted ceilings than this though. Below are a few vaulted ceiling living room design ideas.

A dome can be a statement piece, as guests can either look up at marvelously minimal openness or curved wooden beams accentuating the overall look. Other things done with domes are: archways with interior or exterior windows, plank like beams shooting across (giving it more of a rural look), and beautiful exterior stonework. You can also stucco the outside of the dome for a modern style.

A pitched barrel vault is slightly different than traditional high ceilings. This design leans at an angle against a wall. These can provide an asymmetrical look to any living area, or invoke Italian restaurant simplicity. Some popular things done with this style are: segmented ceilings, indented arches, and contemporary furnishing to compliment.

Barrel vaults are what’s normally associated with the term vaulted ceilings. Many of the most famous cathedrals in the world feature barrel vaults; even in many palaces. These aren’t usually used for living rooms, but they can be elegant. Some concepts are: murals, skylights, and painted glass.

Rib vaults are an amazing design for living rooms. They look exactly how they sound, like ribs. They were created when intersecting barrel vaults were not the same diameter, causing separation and an illusion like a rib cage. Many of these have been used in cathedrals as well, but they appear more practical in the modern home. Most of the different styles applied to this design exist within the ribs themselves. There are numerous opportunities for creativity!

Every vaulted ceiling is admirable. Most can be customized similarly. They won’t all look the part, but in modern architecture, many marvels have been made. It might sound crazy to add a soffit or a rose window in a traditional dome, yet you will never know till it’s tried. Ceilings are often the most breathtaking feature in a home. Why not adorn yours with the most awe inspiring type? Vaulted ceilings are iconic, and can be webbed to look as eternal as cathedrals.

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