As far as controversial architectural elements go, vaulted ceilings are some of the most divisive, with some designers praising them for their grand, lofty flair and others deriding them for being outdated, not to mention wasteful of energy. In architectural terms, a vaulted ceiling is a self-supporting arch above walls and beneath a roof.
Some of the first vaulted ceilings can be traced back to a neolithic village in Crete, built roughly seven thousand years ago. Since then, they've been found around the world across ages, perhaps most notably in Gothic cathedrals and in domed spaces like the Pantheon in Rome. “A vaulted ceiling extends upward from the walls to a center, creating a volume of space overhead,” says Jade Joyner, co-founder and principal designer of studio Metal + Petal in Athens, Georgia. That’s roughly similar to the true architectural definition, but there’s one major difference: they don’t have to be arched, instead following the roofline in a more triangular form.
Vaults can be styled in a number of ways to match the look of your home, whether that’s modern, rustic, or industrial. “The softness of an arched ceiling can add the perfect touch for a modern structure,” says Maggie Griffin, who runs her eponymous firm in Atlanta and Gainesville, Florida.
“A vaulted ceiling is a wonderful excuse to incorporate reclaimed beams or industrial cable supports to round out your look, too.” Need to change a lightbulb in your vaulted ceiling’s recessed lighting or dust an exposed beam?
Need to change a lightbulb in your vaulted ceiling’s recessed lighting or dust an exposed beam? “From an engineering standpoint, you’ll need to make sure your roof structure supports a vault,” says Cruz.