When Your Great Room Isn’t So Great – Designing a Room with Vaulted Ceilings

I have a lovely client who I’ve helped with various rooms in her home over the years. She contacted me a while back to tackle her great room and adjoining kitchen, where she was ready to make significant changes but wasn’t sure where to start. She and her husband were using the great room for a dining room (and the original dining room as an office), but felt they were underutilizing this large room with vaulted ceilings:


The space and its contents felt a bit out of scale – rooms with vaulted ceilings can be tricky to decorate! What they really wanted was more of a keeping room – a cozier space open to the kitchen that could serve as a comfortable spot for informal entertaining and conversation by the fire. The room was previously paneled with faux wood beams and two hanging light fixtures:

Because of the height of the room, there were some awkward seams/joints in the paneling. So we decided to remove it and drywall the whole room. I suggested we retain the faux beams and simply paint them a dark charcoal. Rather than replacing the pair of light fixtures, we opted for one larger, central light fixture in the great room with a few unobtrusive can lights instead.

The biggest change in this room was in the fireplace. Before, the fireplace seemed so small and lost because of the soaring room height. It really needed to be a focal point with some gravitas, so we decided on a gray stone veneer that now reaches to the peak of the room.

peak of stone fireplace in room with vaulted ceiling

The next decision was how to furnish the great room, since the dining room was moving back to its original space. Because they have an adjoining sunroom with a sofa that they use for lounging and watching television, we didn’t want the new keeping room to be redundant. Rather than sofa and chairs, we decided to do four comfortable swivel chairs anchored by a beautiful rug and central coffee table. Swivel chairs are great for orienting towards the kitchen when someone’s preparing a meal or the fireplace on a frosty evening.

room and color design by The Decorologist

My clients weren’t initially sold on my choice of coffee table, but the room came together beautifully in the end. The marbled top ties in beautifully with the new island in the kitchen, which you’ll glimpse in a moment.

swivel chairs and marbletop coffee table on orange and blue oriental rug in keeping room

Who wouldn’t want to cuddle up in this chair by the fire with a good book?

swivel chair in great room by The Decorologist

Here’s another before shot from a different vantage point, so you can see the dramatic transformation:



great room design by The Decorologist with vaulted ceilings and stone veneer fireplaceafter

Here’s a shot from the kitchen, where you can see a bit of the new island I spoke of earlier:

vaulted room design by Kristie Barnett, The DecorologistThe Decorologist

Viewing the photo above, what you can’t see is the built-in bar area that was previously to the extreme right. Here’s what it looked like before:


We had the upper cabinets removed and replaced with open wood shelving that match the look of the new wood fireplace mantel, which is opposite. The bottom cabinets and hardware were retained and painted trim color, and the wine fridge was replaced with drawers. Here’s the nicely paired-down result:

The Decorologist

The quartz countertop here is the same as the new perimeter countertops in the adjoining kitchen.

stained wood open shelving and concrete-look quartz countertopThe Decorologist

room design by The DecorologistThe Decorologist

I hope you like how this great room turned out as much as I do! In an upcoming blogpost: I’ll turn the camera around and show you the amazing kitchen transformation and how the two rooms tie together beautifully!

What’s your favorite thing about this space?

For those of you who have been asking, my next Expert Psychological Stager™ course will be March 14-16, 2019. I know that seems like a long time off, but my course always sells out early! You can become a certified professional home stager in this intensive 3-day training, which is accredited by the Real Estate Staging Association®. You can find out more about it here.



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