Whenever describing a ceiling that’s not flat one term stands out among all others, that of cathedral ceiling. To understand what this term refers to, we have to go to its roots. It’s all in the name really. This is the design that was most popular with cathedrals so the sense just evolved to describe a style particular to a certain type of building. Cathedral ceilings are now widely used in architecture and not just when building cathedrals but all sorts of other structures too, including residences. We’re ready to show you some amazing projects that revolve around this particular element.
The first project is an amazing residence from Tahoe Donner, in California. It’s a two-story contemporary house developed by WA Design. Naturally, what we’re most interested in is the ceiling. The design has all the characteristics of a typical cathedral ceiling plus a few cool custom details. As you can see, symmetry is among the most important details. The ceiling has two equally steep sloping side which meet in the middle.
Traditionally, a cathedral ceiling would have two sloping sides which would form a ridge in the middle. In addition to that, the design can include a variety of other features such as additional support beams or visible hardware focused on creating a pleasant contrast in combination with the beams. This brings us to another example: a two-storey vacation home designed by Hammer Architects in Truro, Massachusetts where the cathedral ceiling is a major focal point throughout the interior.
Apart from being very tall compared to the usual king, a cathedral ceiling is also special because it mirrors the pitch of a roof structure and that creates a wonderful sense of comfort and familiarity, diminishing the dramatic impact that a high ceiling would otherwise have on a space. In the case of this contemporary residence designed by Bates Masi Architects in East Hampton, New York, things are a bit more complex. On one hand, the cathedral ceiling has the sloping sides and the pitch which help it look a bit retro and cozy but on the other hand the whole design is minimalistic and that adds drama to the space, especially considering the visual contrasts.
Does this cathedral ceiling remind you of something? Maybe of a car repair shop? Perhaps not but we find its story charming nevertheless. The structure is now a cozy home but that wasn’t always the case. It was actually converted by architect Richard Smith who saw its wonderful potential and took advantage of all its beautiful features. The cathedral ceilings were obviously preserved and the timber beams were exposed, the same as the concrete flooring.
By now you should already have a pretty clear idea of how a cathedral ceiling looks like. Obviously, no two are the same but they all share in common a few key characteristics like the symmetry of the sloping sides and the fact that they make rooms feel more spacious and dramatic without interfering with their cozy and welcoming ambiance.
Some would argue that vaulted ceilings are pretty much the same thing as cathedral ceilings. In some ways that’s true but there are a few major differences between these two styles. A vaulted ceiling is not necessarily symmetrical as it can actually have a single sloping side. Also, it can have a curved or an arched shape whereas a cathedral ceiling can’t.
There are lots of different cases when a cathedral ceiling simply makes sense in the context of a building’s design. As mentioned before, each individual design or structure has its own set of particularities. For instance, the height of the ceiling, the materials in which it’s covered, the finish and the color can all differ from case to case.
Sometimes differentiating between a vaulted ceiling and a cathedral ceiling is quite difficult given how similar they are. Often it’s all reduced to the exact length of the sloping sides or the angle or exact shape of the pitch and by extension of the whole ceiling. Take this case for example? Can you figure out what type of ceiling this residence has?
Both vaulted and cathedral ceilings are great for skylights. It actually makes sense to install skylight windows on a sloping ceiling. They let in lots of sunlight and they also provide a dreamy view of the night sky (well, as long as they’re clean at least).
There are many cool ways in which you can take advantage of a cathedral ceiling. First of all, you can puts an emphasis on its dramatic nature with the help of beams or by hanging certain types of light fixtures, like this awesome dining room chandelier.
In lots of cases less is more and that also applies to cathedral ceilings. The simplest its design is, the bigger the emphasis on the height and the structural elements is which means it’s not the details that stand out but the basic elements, the one that define this style.