How to decorate a vaulted ceiling

Vaulted ceilings are a great way to make rooms feel more grand and spacious. The dramatically expanded space, however, means that decorating can seem challenging. Fortunately, there are a few techniques for ceiling decoration to create a room that's at once open and inviting.

The two best elements to liven up an otherwise massive ceiling space are textures and lights. The principle behind either option is breaking up the space so that the ceiling doesn't feel so vast and empty. Textures and lights can make a room more visually appealing, guide people's attention and even define the room's purpose.

Adding depth
Textures are a great way to add ambience to a vaulted ceiling. Wood is a classic texture to add to your ceiling, with long, interlocking pieces that run the length of the room. Think of your ceiling much like an accent wall – wood and other textures help to make the ceiling feel less bare. It will also draw people's attention upward to one of the most impressive features of the room.

Truly good textural design will tie in with the rest of the room. A good example of this is the pictured design in HHF-7908, which anchors its vaulted ceiling with light, wooden window frames that run the length of the wall. This attentive design visually orients people not only to the ceiling, but also toward the beautiful outer wall of windows and down to the wooden floors.

Your room textures don't always have to match. You can mix and match drastically different textures for greater visual impact. That same house plan also boasts a fireplace of rough-cut stone, which gives the space an unmistakable cabin atmosphere. Brick is another distinctive wall texture to complement your ceiling. 

Brighten up the room
Lights are another great way to break up the space. A room with a vaulted ceiling allows you to experiment with various lighting options more so than smaller spaces, simply by virtue of the fact that you have more space to illuminate. In-set lights can create a minimalist pattern along the length of the room. Track lights and chandeliers add layers of depth to the open space. Hanging lights effectively makes the room feel more enclosed and cozy without eliminating the vastness of the ceiling.

Your choice of lighting can also be more grand. Ornate chandeliers may crowd smaller spaces, but in a vaulted room it serves as a centerpiece. You can even hang a series of chandeliers at various heights to create a more visually active and interesting space.

Defining the room
Chandeliers and other hanging lights provide yet another design opportunity – by strategically lowering your chandeliers in certain places around the room, you can implicitly determine people's use of the space. The room should already have certain focal point around which the furniture is organized, such as a fireplace or a dining table. Lights can emphasize those focal points. For example, a chandelier that hangs lower over a table or circle of couches and chairs emphasizes that a place is for sitting. Higher lights welcome more movement. Great rooms featured in craftsman house plans allow for more of this kind of experimentation.