How to Decorate Great Rooms With Vaulted Ceilings

Written by jan czech
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How to Decorate Great Rooms With Vaulted Ceilings
The skylight in this cathedral ceiling adds architectural detail. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Vaulted ceilings are a common feature of open-concept floor plans and are especially popular in combination kitchen, eating area and living space called great rooms. While high ceilings add drama, light and openness to your great room, they also present decorating challenges. Vaulted ceilings can make your great room seem cold rather than cosy. They can diminish furniture that isn't proportionately large enough. But by using the right colour choices, wall coverings, furniture, architectural details and accessories, you can make your great room both inviting and dramatic.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Paint
  • Wainscoting
  • Chair rail
  • Wallpaper border
  • Stencil
  • Artwork
  • Beams
  • Moulding
  • Lights
  • Fans

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  1. 1

    Paint the ceiling a darker colour than the walls to fool the eye into thinking the ceiling is lower than it really is. Choose warm colours like mocha, olive and burnished gold. Use paint with a flat finish to refract, or deflect, the light rather than a glossy finish that will reflect light back into the room, emphasising the ceiling's height.

  2. 2

    Highlight the room's horizontal rather than vertical lines by installing wainscoting and a chair rail. Paint the wainscoting the same shade as the ceiling and the wall above it a shade or two lighter. Add a wallpaper or stencilled border above the chair rail or use textured paint on the wainscoting to add extra interest.

  3. 3

    Hang a grouping of paintings, prints, photographs or collections at eye-level. Situate them in straight lines to further emphasise the horizontal space and keep the eye from wandering to the vaulted ceiling. Or choose large wall hangings like tapestries or quilts to provide focal points.

  4. 4

    Arrange your furniture around a focal point like a fireplace or entertainment centre. Opt for overstuffed pieces that won't get lost in the soaring space. Couple them with large coffee and end tables. Define the space to include conversation areas and dining areas.

  5. 5

    Incorporate tall furniture pieces into the room to tie the ceiling and walls together. Large plants, a tall armoire, bookcase or decorative screens work well to balance the room's horizontal lines with the vertical lines of the ceiling. Install a bookcase that is double the height of a standard one and use a rolling library ladder to access the books.

  6. 6

    Install beams or decorative moulding for architectural interest and to bring coziness to your room.

  7. 7

    Mix and match lighting. Make use of floor and table lamps to create a cosy atmosphere. Hang large overhead lights or fans to highlight the drama of a high ceiling.

  8. 8

    Emphasise the ceiling. Install a window wall to let in natural light and bring the outdoors in or add skylights.

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