Vaulted Ceilings: A Modern Twist on Classic Architecture

Like any good design idea, vaulted ceilings are a classic architectural feature that have stood the test of time and are as beautiful and relevant today as ever. (Check out more about the history, pros, and cons of vaulted ceilings in Vaulted Ceilings 101).What do vaulted ceilings look like in modern architecture? Is there even a place for them in contemporary spaces?

Modern bedroom with a platform bed and vaulted ceiling

The answer, of course, is unequivocally YES! The term “vaulted” has morphed into a fairly generic term for “raised,” when it comes to ceilings. So, although today’s vaulted ceilings look much less elaborate than ancient vaults, the overall effect is similar – an airy, spacious design aesthetic.

Skylights capitalize on the vaulted ceiling

Skylights capitalize on the vaulted ceiling’s inherent airy qualities by bringing in even more natural light. Looking at these ceilings, it’s like the light never ends! This makes a room with a smaller footprint feel completely expansive and bright.{found on apartmenttherapy}.

Vaulted ceilings increase the feeling of warmth

To increase the feeling of warmth in a larger-feeling space with vaulted ceilings, incorporate low-hanging pendant lighting and/or tall wall hangings or window treatments to fool the eye into “reading” the ceiling as being a bit lower.{found on fiorelladesign}.

An enormous ceiling beam

An enormous ceiling beam (housing lights) brings the perception of a ceiling down to a more comfortable level. Windows positioned above the beam on the vaulted walls bring in tons of light. This is an absolute win-win – an inviting, bright, and friendly space.

Taller ceiling for the house with vaulted ceilings

An often-overlooked bonus of having vaulted ceilings is that the walls themselves are taller, at least two of them. These heightened walls create a perfect space for a library, with bookshelves all the way up. Just don’t forget the library ladder!

Exposed beams are traditionaly for vaulted ceilings

Exposed beams are a traditional-type architectural element that have taken their place in contemporary dwellings, and for good reason. They create clean lines and visual interest on a surface (the ceiling) that too often goes ignored. These beams are best shown off with vaulted ceilings, where they are more easily seen and also out of the way.

High ceilings and pendant lights

Tall ceilings in a large room are noticeable, to be sure, but tall ceilings in a very small room (like this dining room) are absolutely stunning. Tall windows keep the room from feeling like an elevator-cave, and a gorgeous low-hanging light fixture help to visually create a cozy space below.

Master bedroom tray ceiling and framed art above bed

A tray ceiling – a ceiling in which all but the outer perimeter of the room’s ceiling is raised about a foot – is a less intrusive alternative to vaulted ceilings. This strategy gives a similar large-and-airy feeling to a room as vaulted ceilings do, but the cozy factor and energy efficiency tend to be better.

Media center room with rustic vaulted ceiling

Wood planks as the ceiling surface counterbalance the expansive feeling that raised ceilings evoke with natural warmth. A vaulted ceiling in a large room can make the room itself feel cavernous; using warm materials on the ceiling make even this huge space feel welcoming and comfortable.{found on landsenddev}.

Black and white kitchen design with vaulted ceiling

Darker wood floors contrast beautifully with a white vaulted ceiling (with the light color enhanced by plenty of natural light via skylights and windows). The visual dark/light split of the space is a modern twist, and they balance nicely because the darker “ground-level” space is actually smaller than the huge ethereal ceiling space.{found on housetweaking}.

Floor to ceiling windows and vaulted ceiling

Floor-to-ceiling windows take on a whole new dimension when the ceiling is raised! For the home with a magnificent view, vaulted ceilings seem like a no-brainer to emphasize that characteristic alone. Wide open spaces.{found on markpashley}.