There used to be a time when cathedral ceilings were only used in holy places such as basilicas and churches.
However, over the years, this type of ceiling design has been widely used in living rooms across the country. Besides providing plenty of natural light and creating an illusion of space, a cathedral ceiling can add a touch of class to the décor. Even more so, when designed to bring out the natural beauty of wood.
In this article, we will be learning a good deal about cathedral ceilings, from their various designs and styles to their advantages and disadvantages. So, if you are ready, let’s jump right in.
What Is A Cathedral Ceiling
Perhaps, the most noteworthy characteristic of a cathedral ceiling is its distinct peak at the center of the room. It is constructed by two identical sloping sides that run parallel to the pitch of the roof and match the roofline. These sides form a ridge-like shape upon reaching the peak and run across the length of the room.
This design helps create a sense of space by opening the room up to the highest point of the ceiling. While a slanted ceiling does not necessarily imply additional space, the increased vertical volume provides an illusion that the room is larger than its actual size.
What Is A Vaulted Ceiling
It is not surprising that the terms ’cathedral ceiling’ and ‘vaulted ceiling’ are often used interchangeably because, for the most part, they are very similar to each other.
However, there are a few minor differences between both types of ceilings. For instance, vaulted ones are usually not slanted in the same direction as the roof. Instead, they feature a single sloping side, a curved slope, or unevenly slanted sides. Also, a vaulted ceiling usually sits below the top.
Since vaulted ceilings don’t follow the pitch of the roof, they offer a wider range of styles, which can help modernize the décor of your home. And the best part is they can be installed with roofs of different heights instead of just central high peaked roofs.
Pros Of Cathedral Ceiling
Both vaulted and cathedral ceilings offer a lot of advantages; let’s take a look at them in detail.
A wood cathedral ceiling can add a touch of elegance to the decor of the room compared to a conventional ceiling. Furthermore, the beams that are used to mount light fixtures can make the room look even more beautiful.
This type of ceiling in a one-story ranch rambler house can effectively convert the house from a boring tract home into a classy vintage home. Also, it looks great in cabin-like, rustic homes.
Believe it or not, cathedral ceilings can make rooms brighter, especially when the roof features skylights. Additionally, they can offer more wall space for floor-to-ceiling windows and the option of installing larger light fixtures to hang from the ceiling.
Creates An Illusion Of Extra Space
Most importantly, a cathedral ceiling creates a sense of space. Even though it doesn’t provide any actual floor space, it tends to create an illusion that makes the room feel bigger.
Cons Of Cathedral Ceiling
While cathedral ceilings offer quite a few advantages, they do have their fair share of disadvantages.
Unfortunately, cathedral ceilings are not energy-efficient. With them installed, the room heat rises into the space where it serves no purpose to the occupants. And this is worse for those ceilings that have windows and skylights installed.
Furthermore, rooms with cathedral ceilings are usually colder because of the convection process, which leads to the warm air rising and cold air falling. Even though this issue can be mitigated by installing ceiling fans or insulators in the ceiling, in reality, more often than not, these rooms will feel colder in the winter.
Repair And Maintenance
Another major con of a cathedral ceiling is that it is difficult to clean and maintain appropriately without professional assistance. Let’s face it, painting or cleaning a roof that’s 30-feet above your head is easier said than done.
Since the construction of a cathedral ceiling is a complicated process, it is expensive. Needless to say, it’s beyond the pay grade of DIYers and handypersons.
Top Cathedral Ceiling Design Inspiration
These are some of the best cathedral ceiling design inspiration:
Take Inspiration From Paris
Look at the picture above; you’ll find a touch of Parisian flair in the room. The rounded chairs paired with the ornate mirror take the aesthetic appeal of the room to the next level. Even though there’s just a little peek of the cathedral ceiling, any interior decorator can attest that it makes for an ideal backdrop for this elegant style.
If you are looking for a luxurious look, consider adding a few golden-colored items to your bedroom. A golden shade can work like a charm, flirting with a wood cathedral ceiling and adding a bit of class overall.
Bring Out The Coastal Vibes
Rooms that are beach-inspired are some of the best-looking ones. Open spaces like the one above help create an ambiance that you would get from a beach house. This particular décor also fits well with a cathedral ceiling, all credits to the air and relaxed vibe of the room.
Classic And Traditional
In some aspects, less is more, and it also applies when it comes to cathedral ceilings. The simpler the design, the bigger is the emphasis on the structural elements and the height. Just take a look at this living room.
Installing Eye-Catching Light Fixtures
There are numerous ways to take advantage of a cathedral ceiling. For starters, you can enhance its dramatic features by hanging certain light fixtures, like this spectacular chandelier in the dining room.
As you already know, cathedral ceilings work great with skylights. In fact, it actually makes sense to build a skylight window on a roof that’s sloping. Not only does it let in plenty of sunlight, but it allows for a dreamy view of the sky at night. However, make sure that you keep it clean.
Open Concept And Exposed Beams
Does a room with a wood cathedral ceiling ring a bell? Even though this roof structure can be seen in a living room or a bedroom today, it has been traditionally used in car repair shops. Thanks to the famous Richard Smith, who saw the potential of the high ceiling and took advantage of all its exceptional features.
In this picture, you can see how wonderful a cathedral ceiling can look with exposed timber beams.
Modern Clean Lines
Besides being tall, a cathedral ceiling mirrors the pitch of a roof structure and delivers a unique sense of familiarity and comfort, reducing the impact of tall ceiling space.
This contemporary residence that Bates Masi Architects designed is a bit complicated. The sloping sides and the pitch give it a cozy retro look, but on the other hand, the minimalist design adds to the drama created by the open space.
Retro Modern Mix
As stated previously, a cathedral ceiling sports two sloping sides that create a ridge-like shape in the middle. Additionally, the design can have numerous other features like support beams and other visible hardware meant to create contrast with the beams. Take a look at this two-story vacation home where the ceiling is the focal point of the décor.
Chateau Look Cathedral Ceiling
This picture is of a spectacular residence from Tahoe Donner in California. It’s a modern two-story house, and without a doubt, the most notable feature of its décor is the ceiling. Safe to say, the building has all the characteristics of an eye-catching cathedral ceiling with a bit of customization.
As far as opening up space is concerned, white paint can work wonders. Let’s face it, dark colors often feel heavy in a space, but white ceilings and walls in the living room help maintain an optimal balance. Textures like rattan and wood in the room instantly make it feel warm and cozy, more so when the ceiling sports a cathedral structure.
A Rustic Oasis
This room is a perfect example of how different styles work so flawlessly together. As you can see, there’s a deep-rooted beachy quality to this room. However, when you look at its cathedral ceiling, it gives a 17th-century vibe.
Besides the perfect blend of these two styles of décor meeting in the middle, the elegant tile on the fireplace gives it a Spanish-inspired twist. Needless to say, all these intricate details make the place feel personalized and rustic.
Add Contrasting Styles
It’s spectacular to see what you can do with just wooden beams and a cathedral ceiling. At first glance, this living room offers a farmhouse appeal. However, after seeing the surroundings and exploring a little longer, the furniture makes this room look contemporary.
Recommended Lightings For Cathedral Ceilings
The ceiling is often considered to be the fifth wall in the world of interior design. So, you will want to ensure that it is properly lit to have the maximum impact. In this section, we have mentioned some of the most suitable lightings for cathedral ceilings.
Skylights are one of the most common methods of bringing natural light into rooms. Besides adding to the aesthetic appeal of a cathedral ceiling, they are also highly efficient. Not only can they help you save money on your utility bills by reducing the need for artificial lighting during the daytime, but they offer the much-needed heat in winters.
2. Track Lighting
As far as track lighting is concerned, it is also a great option as the lights can be moved as per requirements to the desired location. When rearranging your space, you can move the lights to the region that requires illumination. Besides, these lights are available in a wide range of sizes, designs, and colors, which is why it is such a popular lighting option for cathedral ceilings.
3. Accent Lighting And Wall Sconces
This type of lighting provides intimate lighting to your room. Usually, these lights are smaller and don’t fill the entire room with their light. However, they are an ideal option to add accent lighting for evenings. Furthermore, wall sconces can highlight the artwork on the wall, which is truly magnificent.
4. Recessed Lighting
Often referred to as can lights, recessed lights are small and are usually concealed within the ceiling. They come in square and circular shapes and can be easily installed at any place on the roof. One of the major advantages of recessed lighting is that it can be directed where you want as the light shines downwards in a concentrated spot.
Furthermore, this lighting is a permanent approach and therefore requires drilling holes for installation. We strongly recommend installing these lights about 4-6 feet apart so that they can produce an even flow. Also, make sure that you get in touch with a professional to install these lights in your cathedral ceiling, as the installation process can get quite tricky.
5. Pendant Lights
Another lighting option for cathedral ceilings is pendant lights. The best part about these options is their unique shape and that they can make any place quite lively. They are available in different shades, which allows you to choose as per your requirements. Plus, they are economical, which is a big plus for those on a limited budget.
How To Clean Cathedral Ceilings
If your existing home has a cathedral ceiling, it will require routine cleaning. In this section, we have explained some techniques and tools to get you started with cleaning it.
First things first, while it may seem economical to leave the groove and interior cedar tongue natural, it’s best to apply a sealer to the bare wood. Most preferably, one with a clear finish. Even if it’s sanded, cobwebs and dust are prone to sticking to the bare wood easily, making them tough to remove.
Additionally, applying a clear sealer keeps the wood cathedral ceiling fresh for a long time and makes cleaning a smooth breeze. But before getting on with the cleaning process, make sure that you have the right tools in your arsenal.
A pair of safety glasses is probably the most important tool that is required when cleaning cathedrals. It will ensure that your eyes stay protected from the falling dust and dirt when you look up to clean.
Telescopic Cleaning Pole
The special poles help extend your reach and feature a variety of accessories that lock onto the pole end using a special connection system.
These ladders are ideal for cleaning the areas that are difficult to reach in your cathedral ceiling. When you fully extend them, it helps you to reach the top for cleaning. Don’t worry; these types of ladders sport wide steps for safe and comfortable footing.
Once you have gathered all the tools, you need to plan the cleaning process. It’s best to start from one end. Make sure you use the edges of the ceiling boards as a guide to clean back and forth evenly. Plus, you must take frequent breaks; otherwise, you will soon get tired or stress any unfamiliar arm muscle.
Apart from that, use a microfiber duster if you have one, as they can prove to be highly effective. But don’t forget to shake it out frequently to get rid of the dirt.
3 Famous Rooms With Vaulted And Cathedral Ceilings
These are some of the most beautiful house projects that feature cathedrals or vaulted ceilings
The Perfect House
Peter Bohlin is one of the most popular designers globally; he is best known for designing the spectacular Apple stores in New York and the Pixar Animation Studios. Today, he has been actively designing houses, and the picture above is an example of what he can bring to the table.
The Unconventional Round House
The roundhouse was designed by Jan Henrick. The main reason why the house is curved is that it is flanked on two sides by other houses. Even though the furniture creates quite the view, the vaulted ceiling is what steals the show.
The Dutch Farmhouse
This house was designed by Joost Van Bleiswijk and Kiki van Eijk. It sports a contemporary Dutch design and features a living room with a spacious cathedral ceiling. For us, the exposed beams are the USP of this house as it showcases the luxurious cathedral shape of the roof.
Cathedral Ceiling Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve tried answering a few frequently asked questions in this section in an attempt to clear all your doubts about cathedral ceilings. We hope you find them helpful.
Q1. Are Cathedral Ceilings Outdated?
Cathedral ceilings are not outdated as they serve as an excellent alternative to traditional flat ceilings. However, since they have been traditionally used in churches and basilicas, a handful of people think that they are a little dated. So, you must ensure that you like a room with a high ceiling before deciding to get one.
Q2. Can A Cathedral Ceiling Add Value To Your Home?
Yes, it can add value to your home, which is why it is one of the most popular ceiling choices for a lot of buyers. However, due to the polarizing opinions revolving around cathedral roofs, there are a few factors that you need to consider before adding this type of architecture to your house.
For instance, are you the only one in the neighborhood with a high ceiling? If so, then installing a cathedral ceiling will not add much value to your home if you wish to sell it in the future.
Q3. What Should Be The Ideal Height Of A Cathedral Ceiling?
A cathedral ceiling should be at least 13 feet high from the floor. However, it depends on the style and preference of the homeowners. When compared to conventional flat ceilings that are either 9 feet or 8 feet in height, cathedrals produce soaring sightlines and make the room look luxurious.
Q4. How Are Cathedral Ceilings Supported?
Cathedral roofs are supported in two techniques. The first one is by using ceiling trusses engineered from a truss company with the vaulted space already taken into account. And the other way is by stick-framing, which is attaching each joist and rafter separately.
Q5. What Is The Best Insulation Technique For A Cathedral ceiling?
One of the most effective ways to insulate a cathedral ceiling is by spraying foam up against the roof sheathing, given you have access to the joist spaces from below. More often than not, closed-cell foam is the most suitable option, but a major issue with them is that they are a bit expensive.
On top of that, many building inspectors don’t allow it to be left uncovered due to fire-code reasons.
Q6. How Can I Make My Cathedral Ceilings Look Better?
If you already have a cathedral ceiling in your existing home, then here are a few ways in which you can make it look even more aesthetically pleasing.
A. Translucent Printed Ceiling
In this day and age, printing technology has advanced by leaps and bounds. Thanks to its wide range of applications, you can conveniently create eye-catching printed ceiling designs such as forests, sunset on the sea, or even the blue sky in your living room. This will certainly make the cathedral ceiling look more beautiful.
B. Decorations And Painting
In order to make your walls less monochromatic, you need to hang a few paintings on them. Any form of decoration will provide a different kind of ambiance to the room with a cathedral ceiling.
C. Fixing The Lights
Proper lighting is the key to illuminating and showing off your cathedral ceiling area. So, make sure that they are always in working condition.
That brings us to the end of this article; we hope it has helped you gain some valuable insights into cathedral ceilings.
Now, it’s up to you whether you want to install one or not. If you like spacious rooms and are willing to go through the hassle of their maintenance, then a cathedral ceiling can be the right choice for you.
Apart from this, we would strongly recommend getting in touch with a real estate professional to ensure if a cathedral ceiling will add value to your home or not. This is important if you plan to sell your house in the near future.
If you have any further queries or suggestions, kindly drop them in the comment section down below. Until next time, take care!