Incorporating Dome Ceilings in Your Home’s Design

A dome ceiling adds beauty and architectural interest, while making the room look larger and more spacious.  Whether it is a recessed ceiling dome, a surface mount ceiling dome, or a combination of the two, this is one design element that becomes the obvious focus point in the room. Our team of experts reveal what you need to know if you’re considering a dome ceiling in your home

Incorporating Dome Ceilings

Dome Garret Michael Eakin

This dome ceiling brings the outdoors inside. Image courtesy of Garret Michael Eakin Architect

“A dome ceiling is classical by nature and symmetrical by design,” according to Garret Eakin of Garret Eakin Architect in Chicago, IL. “If you like the drama of symmetry, a domed ceiling is for you.”

This photo above shows one of Eakin’s dome ceiling projects. “We employed the form with the intent to integrate clear story windows above the countertops, washing the space with natural and artificial light,” he explains. “A dome integrates a functional roof with the aesthetics of great natural light.”

Dome ceiling define dining area

The dome ceiling helps to define the eating area in this open concept home. Image: James Brey/Getty Images

Domed ceilings are popular in entryways and living and dining areas, but they can also be used in other locations. “I like a domed ceiling above a breakfast nook or even a small reading room off the master bedroom,” says Nathan Outlaw, president at Onvico, a general contracting and design-build company in Thomasville, GA.

Dome ceiling entrance

The dome ceiling is the focal point in this grand entrance. Image: John M Lund Photography/Getty Images

When used in an entryway, Outlaw says it’s important to think about the type of impression you’re trying to make. “I think that they make a cool impression in a front entry, but can be off putting with how grand they feel,” Outlaw says. “You want a home to feel inviting and an ill placed dome ceiling could come across as pretentious.”

“A dome ceiling can take more planning in the construction and design and will take skilled tradesmen to pull off correctly,” Outlaw says. “If a homeowner wants a dome ceiling, I would suggest looking for a contractor who has done one before and to ask to see – in person – an example of their work.”

Dome center

The dome opens the lid of the ceiling in this room. Image courtesy of Leslie Saul.

“Domes add a sense of space and a sense of place to a room,” according to Leslie Saul of Leslie Saul & Associates Architecture and Design in Cambridge, MA. “They add space because the higher ceiling opens up the lid of the ceiling,” she says. “They add place because the dome gives a centering, an identity, and a sense of comfort to those who sit or stand under it.” The photo above is of one of Saul’s dome ceiling designs.

Dome ceiling with handpainted details

Dome ceiling with handpainted details. Image: IPGGutenbergUKLtd/Getty Images

“A domed or rounded ceiling detail is a great custom feature that will set your room apart from others,” according to Terry Southwick of Southwick Construction in North Hampton, NH. “A foyer, over a dining table, or an office are the best applications in my opinion,” she says. “You can keep it light and white, or paint it with sky colors, or embellish with custom paint depending on your decor.”

Dome ceiling and chandelier

This dome design allows the chandelier to be several inches higher. Image courtesy of Southwick Construction

The photo above is one of Southwick’s dome designs. “A dome ceiling is really a statement feature that can set off a room – with a lighting fixture in the center,” Southwick says. “With LED lighting around the perimeter, it can make a great impression or be a subtle classic detail to your home,” she explains. “It is a specialty feature, and obviously adds some cost to your project, but should be reasonable with a good contractor.”

Dome Ceiling Kits

Small dome ceiling

Dome ceilings don’t have to be large. Image: TimAbramowitz/Getty Images

“There are kits available that can be mounted in the ceiling and trimmed out and painted,” Southwick says. “The nicest way would be to custom frame and plaster in with the addition of crown mouldings to finish off the entire room.” Archways & Ceilings is one company that makes dome ceiling kits. The company provides instructions on how to measure for a dome kit and determine if you want a light ring. The dome ceiling ships in boxes, and can arrive in 3 to 10 business days.

Resale Value

Dome ceiling sunlight

This dome ceiling creates a burst of sunlight. Image: Hoxton-Martin Barraud/Getty Images

If you incorporate a dome ceiling, how will it affect your home’s resale value? Will home buyers share your love of this unique design element?

“Dome ceilings should not be confined to museums, according to Nicole Durosko of Warburg Realty. “When found in a New York City apartment, an elaborate, classical charm is automatically added to the home.” But she admits that it’s not being asked for by popular demand.

Karen Kostiw of Warburg Realty doesn’t think that dome ceilings are that popular in large, urban areas like New York City – at least not among her clients – but she says they’re very popular in homes commutable to the City.  “Buyers outside of the city like architecturally-designed ceilings in the master bedroom and great room,” Kostiw says. “You’re also likely to see this type of ceiling in dining and living rooms.

Dome ceiling ornate

The dome ceiling complements this ornately designed and decorated room. Image: IPGGutenbergUKLtd/GettyImages

However, Howard Margolis of Douglas Elliman says it’s hard to accurately predict which homebuyers will like this style or not. “When it comes to dome ceilings, it depends on an individual’s personal taste and the existing style of their residence,” he says. “I find dome ceilings more often on Park Avenue and Fifth Avenue homes.” He says they’re most likely to be found in the entry foyer or rotunda. “But in general, I think they are a bit dated,” he concludes.




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Add Architectural Detail with Wainscoting

Wainscoting can transform a boring space into a work of art. It can involve raised panels, recessed flat panels and bead board combined with various types of rail and molding. These add interest, style and, above all, a focal point to almost any room. Below are just some of the ways you can use it to create architectural detail in your home.

The history (and pronunciation) of wainscoting

Wainscoting beauty

Wainscoting brings out this home’s natural beauty. Image: Jorge Salcedo/Shutterstock

“Wainscoting was originally used to beef up construction in wet areas of homes and businesses,” according to Justin Riordan, founder of Portland-based Spade and Archer Design Agency. He says it was most often used in areas like kitchens, bathrooms, dining rooms and servant corridors. “With the invention of green ‘hardy’ board – which is a water-resistant type of gypsum board, wainscot is purely decorative at this point.”

If you plan to use it, Riodan also believes you should know how to correctly pronounce the word.  “It’s pronounced ‘Wayne’s cot-ing’ not ‘Wayne’s coat-ing,’ he explains.

Materials and types

Wainscoting texture

Wainscoting adds texture and interest. Image: Sisoje/Getty Images

While previously made of wood, Riordan says it is now available in almost any type of material, ranging from tile to wallpaper. “There are many different types of wainscot — the least expensive and more pervasive would be beadboard,” he says.  “It’s not my first choice, but when a room requires a tough finish and a low cost, beadboard can certainly make sense.” Raised and recessed panels are typically the most popular types of wainscoting.

Wainscoting painted white

Painted white, wainscoting provides a clean contrast. Image: ExperienceInteriors/Getty Images

It appears that some people have a liberal definition of wainscoting (myself included). “Wainscoting is often transitioned at the top with a chair rail and with a base board at the bottom,” Riordan says. “When applied correctly, wainscoting should run from the baseboard to the chair rail  and it should not be any higher than 32 inches.” Riodan explains that if it’s higher than that it’s paneling, not wainscoting.

Wainscoting bathroom

In the bathroom, wainscoting should be waterproof. Image: projects3d/Getty Image

Brian Moloney, owner of The Finishing Company in Richmond, VA, says he commonly installs shadow box wainscoting, bead board wainscoting and board and batten wainscoting. Shadow box, though, is the most popular among his customers. “The shadow wainscoting consists of either a one- or two-piece chair railing with a ‘base cap’ or panel molding.” Moloney says all of the moldings can be purchased at a local big box store or millwork shop.

Wainscoting ideas


Wainscoting image

Use wainscoting to create a dramatic entrance. Image: alabn/Getty Images

You can install wainscoting in any room. However, Moloney says his customers tend to like it in the foyer. “Homeowners like to make an impression at the main entrance to their home, especially along the staircase,” he says. Also, while many people don’t think they need a formal living room, wainscoting can create a sophisticated and elegant formal entertaining area.

Dining room

Wainscoting elegance

Wainscoting can help to create an elegant dining room. Image: akurtz/Getty Images.

Dining rooms are another popular place to install wainscoting. “Some homeowners choose to continue the wainscoting to the ceiling with crown molding for a more formal look,” Moloney explains. “From a functional aspect, the chair railing/wainscot forms a physical barrier between the wall and furniture.”
Also, when used in breakfast nooks, he says it helps to define the space.


Wainscoting style

Wainscoting works in many house styles. Image: hikesterson/Getty Images

Wainscoting is also popular in kitchens. George Markoutsas, Executive Vice President at The ABL Group in Highland Park, IL, says his company uses it in a variety of ways. “Traditionally, wainscoting has been used with beadboard and chair rail, but it extends far beyond that stylistically and can be used in a variety of settings.” Markoutsas says it works in styles ranging from craftsman to contemporary. “There really is no limit to how wainscoting can be used, and it truly elevates the space that it’s used in to a new level,” he adds.


Wainscoting Getty Images

 Create a headboard and focal wall in the bedroom. Image: ArchiViz/Getty Images

Used in the bedroom, wainscoting also creates a clean and elegant look, especially when used as a headboard. “We have used wainscoting as an accent wall in a bedroom, eliminating the need for a headboard,” Markoutsas says.You can add it to create separation and frame artwork.



Beadboard is a popular bathroom choice. Image: phillipspears/Getty Images

Bathrooms have long been a favorite place for installing wainscoting. “With the popularity of shiplap growing exponentially, we have been replacing traditional beadboard applications in wainscoting to shiplap, giving the space a unique look not traditionally seen,” Markoutsas says.

Living room/family room

Wainscoting large rooms

Wainscoting also works well in large rooms. Image: hikesterson/Getty Images

“Height is another aspect of wainscoting that we have seen tweaked with our installations,” Markoutsas says. “It is not uncommon to see it being used on ¾ of the wall, especially in spaces that have 9’ plus ceiling heights.” He says this elevates the space and livens up bare walls that are otherwise dull and boring.

If you have large rooms and spaces, wainscoting can also make them more intimate in appearance. “It can help scale down a large room, and visually lower the ceiling in a very tall room,” according to Josie Abate at Ambience Design Group.  “Besides the beauty it adds, wainscoting can help protect your walls from markings, and also cover up existing damage to a wall,” Abate says.

What are your thoughts on wainscoting? Would you include it in your home? Let us know in the comments.

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