Design Decisions, Kitchen, New House

Vaulted Ceilings in the Kitchen: Pros and Cons

Photo credit: Dixon Kirby Homes

Vaulted ceilings in a kitchen can make a huge statement when it comes to the interior design of a home. Before looking into the advantages and disadvantages of vaulted ceilings, it’s essential to understand what they are. A vaulted ceiling is an architectural design element that adds drama and space to a room by raising the ceiling above the standard height. Unlike conventional flat ceilings, vaulted ceilings are sloped or arched, creating an open and airy atmosphere. They can be a stunning feature in homes, adding a sense of luxury and spaciousness.

Types of Vaulted Ceilings

Vaulted ceilings come in various styles, each offering a unique aesthetic and architectural interest:

  1. Cathedral Ceilings: Perhaps the most recognized style, cathedral ceilings have equal sloping sides that mirror the pitch of the roof, often creating a pointed arch at the top.
  2. Barrel Vault Ceilings: Resembling the inside of a barrel, these ceilings have a continuous arch that creates a tunnel-like effect.
  3. Groin Vault Ceilings: This type is formed by the intersection at right angles of two barrel vaults. The resulting ceiling has a more complex and intricate appearance.
  4. Dome Ceilings: As the name suggests, these ceilings resemble a dome and are often found in grander or more traditional homes.
  5. Shed Ceilings: Shed ceilings slope in one direction only, different from the symmetrical slopes of cathedral ceilings, and are often used in modern or contemporary homes.

Pros of Vaulted Ceilings

Vaulted ceilings possess a unique ability to elevate the aesthetic appeal of a room, transforming an ordinary space into something truly extraordinary. As a central design feature, they introduce an architectural interest that is both visually striking and elegant. Beyond their beauty, these ceilings significantly enhance the sense of spaciousness and openness within a room, thanks to their increased height and volume. This architectural choice is particularly effective in augmenting the natural light within a space, a benefit that is further amplified when paired with tall windows.

The expansive space provided by vaulted ceilings opens up a realm of possibilities for unique design elements. Homeowners and designers can experiment with features such as exposed beams, intricate light fixtures, and dramatic chandeliers, each adding a distinct character and charm to the space. In essence, vaulted ceilings are not just an architectural element; they are a canvas for creativity and style.

Photo credit: New Rosslyn Construction

Cons of Vaulted Ceilings

Vaulted ceilings, while aesthetically pleasing, bring with them a set of practical concerns, primarily relating to energy efficiency. The grandeur and increased volume of space inherent in vaulted ceilings can lead to higher energy costs. This is because heating and cooling these spaces is less efficient; heat naturally rises, which means during winter, the warmth tends to accumulate at the higher parts of the ceiling, leaving the lower and more commonly occupied areas cooler. As a result, more energy is required to maintain a comfortable temperature throughout the room, leading to increased utility bills and potential environmental impact.

The construction and maintenance of vaulted ceilings present their challenges. Building or renovating a home to include these ceilings is often more expensive and complex than standard ceilings. The requirement for additional materials, along with the complexity of the architectural design, can significantly drive up construction and design costs. Maintaining these high ceilings can be cumbersome. Routine tasks such as changing light bulbs, cleaning, or painting become more challenging and might necessitate special equipment or professional assistance. There’s also the consideration of acoustics; vaulted ceilings can alter the way sound travels in a room, sometimes leading to echoes or a less cozy and intimate atmosphere. These factors are important to consider when weighing the aesthetic benefits of vaulted ceilings against their practical implications.

Photo credit: Rufty Homes

Final Thoughts

Vaulted ceilings can offer a dramatic and beautiful addition to a home, creating a sense of luxury and spaciousness. However, they come with considerations such as increased costs, potential energy inefficiency, maintenance challenges, and acoustic issues. When deciding whether a vaulted ceiling is right for your home, it’s important to weigh these pros and cons against your personal preferences, lifestyle, and budget.

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  • Reply Kate

    Love the look of a vaulted ceiling! My parents have finished an extension of their kitchen last year which included a new roofline and vaulted ceilings for the kitchen – I would add to ‘extra heating cost’ that generally it’s just more difficult to regulate temperature whether hot or cold (especially if skylights are present!)!

    December 19, 2018 at 1:51 am
    • Reply Brooke

      Hi Kate. I bet their kitchen looks amazing. And that is a very good point about regulating temperature.

      December 19, 2018 at 3:20 am
  • Reply Amy

    Pro: since heat rises your kitchen and the rest of the house won’t get as hot when you’re cooking.

    December 19, 2018 at 2:26 am
    • Reply Brooke

      That’s another good point! I’ve heard that from a couple of other people, and it wasn’t something I even thought of.

      December 19, 2018 at 3:21 am
  • Reply Molly

    Thoughts to make the cons less of a burden:

    Don’t use recessed lighting, but instead extend the fixtures down on poles.

    Consider ceiling fan(s) and run them clockwise or counterclockwise according to the season to help with that hot air issue. I have two fans in my kitchen and they are a complete win.

    Could you have a faux vent hood that runs to the top? The actual vent hood ending where it needs to, but it could appear to run to the ceiling?

    Happy building!

    December 19, 2018 at 3:44 pm
    • Reply Brooke

      Thanks for the ideas! For the hood, I think we have another solution. Our range and oven will be inset in the wall. That way the hood above will be able to run into the ceiling in the inset. We should have some sketches soon to show.

      December 20, 2018 at 3:24 am
  • Reply Tatiane

    Very interesting pros and cons. Beautiful pictures. I personally don’t like high ceiling for my home. It doesn’t sound cozy to me, but I love the look of it. And Henry is so right about the cost of heating or cooling the space. Our rental house bills are killing us right now. Can’t wait to see your choice 😊

    December 28, 2018 at 2:40 am
  • Reply stephanie chew

    oh yeah, i agree with extra maintenance ad heating issues.. but the pros this have could overcome all these with some additional settings to compensate.

    don’t they?

    January 5, 2019 at 10:00 am
    • Reply Brooke

      Yes, I so agree!

      November 6, 2019 at 5:07 pm
  • Reply Zach

    One suggestion would be to run a bulkhead or header around the sides of the kitchen. This will eliminte the open top cabinets as you can run your cabinets into that header at 9’ or whatever your first floor height is. If you swap the hood to one of the sides and put the sink under a BIG window centered on the vaulted wall, you eliminate that issue as well!

    March 6, 2019 at 8:27 pm
    • Reply Brooke

      Thanks Zach! Thats some great information!

      November 6, 2019 at 5:07 pm
  • Reply hardesh

    We are in process to building new 6000 sq Feet custom house. We love cooking so we thought Kitchen area will be main happening place in our house. Kitchen size is 19.5 feet by 26 feet with 14 feet high Vaulted ceiling. Our entire house ceiling is 10 feet. My wife doesn’t like valued high ceiling and her comments is that Kitchen looks like “Cafeteria”.

    I have decided to add more visual interest which include ceiling design. Yours Pros and Cons help me to make it interesting. Unfortunately no option here to share the picture.

    March 27, 2019 at 3:39 am
    • Reply Brooke

      Hello Hardesh! We are so happy we you enjoyed reading this article and hopefully it helped you some.

      November 6, 2019 at 5:08 pm
  • Reply Martha foss

    We ended up moving our kitchen into our old living room area, which had high vaulted ceiling’s. It has made our kitchen an amazing room. You will love having the vaulted ceilings in your kitchen. We have skylights, to insure that the room stays light in the am and high windows that brings extra light into the space. I love my kitchen, And the main reason is the ceilings!

    November 6, 2019 at 5:38 am
    • Reply Brooke

      Hello Martha! I’m sure this looks so amazing! I’m really excited about our vaults and can’t wait to see how it all turns out.

      November 6, 2019 at 5:09 pm
    • Reply Trudy Nevarov

      Martha, I’m so glad to hear you love the vaulted kitchen . We’re building and i’m having some serious regrets about this big open vaulted space – kitchen, dining room and living room! 😳 Now i need to be patient and let it all come together so I’ll hopefully love it!

      September 24, 2021 at 4:33 pm
  • Reply Melissa Grant

    I love the color of the cabinets and walls. Can you please tell me the paint color?

    January 4, 2022 at 7:58 pm
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