What is Vault?

A vault is an architectural element consisting of a curved structure designed to provide a space with a ceiling or roof.


In interior design, a vault is not just any arch or dome; it's a sophisticated element that often spans the entire space of a room, providing a ceiling or roof with a distinctive, often dramatic, curved shape. This architectural feature can trace its origins back to ancient civilizations, where it was used both for its beauty and its structural capabilities, allowing the construction of large, open interior spaces without the need for columns or additional support.

Vaults come in various forms, including the simple barrel vault, which resembles a half-cylinder, to the more complex ribbed or groin vaults, which involve intersecting arches that create a richly textured ceiling. Each type offers unique aesthetic and technical benefits, influencing both the atmosphere and the acoustic properties of a space. When properly implemented, a vault can help to elevate an interior's appearance, introducing a sense of grandeur or intimacy depending on its design and scale.

In contemporary design, vaults are celebrated for their ability to blend historical significance with modern functionality. Whether it's in a commercial space like a hotel lobby or a residential setting like a living room, a vault can add architectural interest and elegance, making any room feel more spacious and luxurious.


In a classical setting, a barrel vault might be used to create a grand entranceway, giving visitors an immediate sense of opulence and history. Meanwhile, in a modern home, a ribbed vault could be incorporated into the design of a living room to add architectural interest and improve the room's acoustics, making it an ideal setting for music and entertainment.


  • Are vaults only found in historic buildings?

    No, vaults are not exclusive to historic buildings. They are used in both traditional and contemporary architecture to add beauty and structural integrity to a design.

  • Can vaults be added during remodeling?

    Yes, vaults can be added during remodeling projects, but it's important to consult with a structural engineer to ensure the integrity of the building is maintained.

  • Do vaults affect the acoustics of a room?

    Yes, the curved shape of vaults can dramatically improve the acoustics of a room, making them a popular choice in spaces designed for music or public speaking.

Practical Application

When considering adding a vault to your design, think about the type of atmosphere you want to create. A barrel vault can introduce a sense of grandeur, making it suitable for entranceways or large gathering spaces. For a more decorative impact, consider a ribbed or groin vault, which can add complexity and texture to the ceiling. Always work with a structural engineer or an experienced architect when incorporating a vault into a new or existing space to ensure safety and structural integrity.