Would You Vault this?

matt_in_ksNovember 11, 2012

My wife and I have gone back and forth several times about the vault above the living room and dinning area in the house we had designed. You guys have such great input that we would love to hear your thoughts. We like craftsman style, I don't see many high vaulted ceilings but really liked the idea of building the box beams to make the area unique. We wonder about the proportions of the room and whether we should just square the ceiling off at 13' or even 8'... We have concerns about the area seeming tall and empty, cold, or even disproportionate instead of cozy and welcoming. I'll post the section next, let me know if I can give any other information that would help you give feedback. Thanks so much everyone!

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Here is the section to help visualize the space, there are 3325 transom windows above the double hung windows so the windows go up to about 9'4" on the wall of the living room. Thanks so much for sharing any thoughts and let me know if I can share any helpful info.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 7:43PM
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Hey, if it's good enough for Jerry Seinfeld's Colorado Crib, it's good enough for me.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 8:10PM
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I can't read the width dimenstions clearly but it looks like 13'-7" or so. A 15'-8" wall plate, plus the height of the pitched ceiling is a very tall, vertical proportion compared to the width--significantly taller than wide, if I have the dimensions correct.

It certainly will not be a cozy, intimate space, but it will be visually striking. Humans may feel a bit overwhelmed in the room in social settings.

With a space so tall, lighting (the type, color and intensity of all the ambient lighting, as well as how the lamps will be serviced)will be an issue. You will probably need a lot of task lighting for various uses in the space, as well as some "feature" lighting just for eye appeal and warmth. Heating and cooling will be a challenge is such a volume and you will need an experienced HVAC designer for a proper system design, controls and balance.

If you are doing any special AV, audio, video, music, etc., you are going to also need some pre-construction design.

You should pay particular attention to the design of the fireplace wall, and also the wall and opening at the opposite end for the kitchn. Neither should look like an afterthought (or no thought at all) if you decide to have such a high trussed area.

Said differently, the high vaulted ceiling and artificial trusses may look striking, but only if each of the other ends of the room are also designed harmoniously.

Good luck with your project!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 8:58PM
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Worthy-pictures of amazing rooms like that are what started this whole thing :). I had the designer cut 2 feet off the width of the house to try and control cost and I was afraid that may have made the space too narrow. Jerry's room looks to me like maybe 18 ft wide and 16 ft tall? If it seems too tall once we build it I suppose we could "bring the center down" and leave the vaults on the side like in the picture.

Virgil- great points, thanks for the input. We definitely need to think about the design looking towards the kitchen because my mind tends to focus on the fireplace.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 9:51PM
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I'm seeing Jerrys room as around 14' wide. I'm basing this on saying the sofas are 3' deep and the Ottoman 4' and then about 2' each in between. Might be 15', but doubt it is any larger in width.

I think it will look good and since it is narrow ie not so wide I think it will be easier to make it cozy.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 7:46AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Are you wanting the living/dining area to feel as one space, or do you want it to feel like separate rooms without walls. If the latter then you should use different ceiling treatments and floor treatments to help define those spaces. For example, our kitchen and family room are open to each other, but we wanted them to feel like separate spaces, so we added an arched soffit above the island, that matches the curve in the island which matches the curve in the flooring where the 2 different materials meet to give a visual break to the space.

(Very old pic during construction, but it shows the soffit and the island and the flooring change.)

My concern is if you vault the entire ceiling it will feel like a cathedral and not a home. It will be very dramatic to look at, but DH and I have found that those dramatic spaces make a home less livable and certainly not cozy. That is also a very long and relatively narrow space...vaulting the entire ceiling will make it feel even more so. If you add horizontal lines to the ceiling with different ceiling treatments, it will bring the scale of that space back to human levels.

In Seinfeld's pic, notice that there is no peak...but the cathedral is softened by a ceiling and some arches that help bring the space down. If you do choose to vault the entire ceiling, do look at and experience a barrel vault. The curves overhead are more expensive, but yield a much cozier and more inviting feeling than straight lines and peaks. I was in a home that had a barrel vault throughout the main living space and it was absolutely delightful vs. a peaked cathedral.

Our goal in our home was cozy. We went with a barrel vault in our dining room and I think it works well.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 9:37AM
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Beautifully done.

Yes, a vaulted or barrelled ceiling will work well. There are even pre-fab kits that can simplify the job.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 11:14AM
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Annie- thanks for sharing, the curves and the ceiling really soften the overall feel of the vault and until you pointed that out I wasn't really paying attention to what was causing that. I think I still lean towards the straight lines of the cathedral with the ceiling but I definitely appreciate what the barrel vault contributes to the room. You have a very nice dinning room and I think you've done a great job utilizing the architectual feature and moldings to create the atmosphere you desired. Growing up our family's cabin had a high vault and I think I've associated family time by the fire and grandpa's stories with that high vault. It's interesting how our experiences can influence how we interpret a design....

I think using DH windows with transforms above will provide some of those horizontal lines you mention. The Seinfeld house has a pretty high pitch compared to ours but I like how it is broken into thirds with the ceiling.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 11:18PM
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