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A Case for Arched Openings in Your Home

Arched doorways (or openings) are beautiful and visually impactful. If you’re building a new home or considering a remodel, adding rounded openings to certain rooms and spaces can be a lovely idea.

However, it's essential to consider the doorways deliberately and carefully. How will they work with certain areas and spaces? Do they fit with the overall style and architecture? Do they complement your decor? Here’s what to consider when you add arched doorways to your home.

Photography: Caroline Sharpnack

New? Old? Are Arched Doorways in Style?

Most of us realize that arched openings aren’t new in home design. In fact, they go back many years. We can see examples in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Curved architecture has been used ubiquitously throughout home construction for centuries.

The reason why arches are beloved in design is both aesthetic and mathematical. Arches are actually stronger than flat door frames. Look at rounded ceilings, curved bridges, and other large structures that rely on an arch for strength. In old-world construction, arches helped to keep doorways strong and sturdy. They were a practical choice, especially when building materials needed extra fortification.

Now, of course, there's a strong aesthetic case for arched openings as well. They’re beautiful, soft, and even more organic feeling. An archway is welcoming. It contrasts nicely against the flat lines of ceilings and windows. Curves feel creative and artistic.

Of course, there are ways to add too many curves to your home (more on that ahead), but for the most part, arched architecture is visually appealing and beautiful. It helps break up the natural boxiness of a traditional home and eases the transition from room to room. A building with completely straight lines can sometimes feel cold and less relaxed.

So historically, arches served both form and function in building. Now, in more modern architecture, builders likely don’t need to curve a doorway or opening to create a strong structure, but it still provides the same benefits of being beautiful and softening the space. An arched opening (and arched ceilings, for that matter) can make a room feel more intimate and cozy. They have a timeless, bespoke, and even eclectic feel that pairs well with many decor types and styles.

Considering Arched Openings in a New Build

If you’re in the process of planning and building a new home, then adding an archway or two is certainly a consideration. Traditional flat, rectangular openings are the norm in most modern designs, of course, but an interior archway can elevate the space and add visual interest—just like ceiling detail or crown molding.

Design + Image: House Seven Design

If you’re hoping to add arched openings to your new home, it’s important to follow a few guidelines. First of all, don’t do too much of a good thing. Too many arches can feel overdone and overwhelming. It may even cheapen the look of a home (think of faux marble pillars and “tract mansion” gaudiness).

Arched openings need to coordinate and flow with the style of your house. Unless your home features authentic Spanish-style architecture, which heavily features arched doors and openings, you may opt to only use arched doorways to highlight and enhance specific spaces.

Consider the purpose of the space, as well as the furnishings and features. For example, it's often best not to pair archways with too many curved windows and ceilings (it can appear overdone), but you may want to echo the shape in certain rounded features like built-in shelving.

Design: Lexi Westergard Design | Photography: John Woodcock

It’s important to note that arched openings should generally be a consistent feature in a room. For example, a living room with an arched entryway may also feature an arched exit to the hall (if there are two doorways). This isn’t always the rule, but working with a great architect and/or designer will make these decisions far easier.

Speaking of entryways, arches are especially nice when used in an entry space that opens to a larger room. Entryway arches feel welcoming and spacious, play well with staircases and other entryway features, and can really offer a feeling of grandeur when you walk in. They’re also lovely for framing an eye-catching chandelier.

Arched doorways feel particularly elegant too. Humans are naturally drawn to curved lines in design and even nature. So, if you're looking for a small but impactful design touch to your home, consider discussing a few arched openings with your architect or designer.

Adding Arched Openings During a Remodel

Arched openings can create an illusion of space in a room. A typical, straight doorway usually runs lower and naturally creates a division. An arched doorway can peak just inches from the ceiling, making the room feel larger and more spacious. Our eyes are naturally drawn to rounded shapes and follow curved lines.

Photography: Caroline Sharpnack

That said, similar to mixing wood tones, or patterns, mixing shapes in your current design takes a careful eye and some planning. Adding a curve to a doorway may further cut down the space if you have an older home with low ceilings and doorways. You might consider a modified arch or rounding other features to soften the area instead.

Arched openings feel timeless, but they don’t always align well with very modern architecture, which tends to be more minimalist, straight, and simple. Adding an arched doorway to these spaces can feel like more of an afterthought or a bit disjointed.

Design: Marie Flanigan Interiors | Photography: Julie Soefer

As for Mediterranean or European style and even Art Deco-style buildings, arches can feel right at home. In fact, adding an arched opening can help emphasize the house’s style and feel very on point.

Arched openings are playful and fun. They can work in some unexpected places, too, of course. Home design is meant to be creative. So if a particular room is begging for an arch or a little more curve, a doorway may be a great way to go.

Just as the guidelines for new builds, be careful when mixing doorway shapes in a room. If you’re going to have an arch leading into a space, you very well may need an arch leading out of it. Start with just one room to see how you like the look and use it in moderation because it's definitely easy to overdo it.

Decor Choices with Arched Openings

If your home has existing arched doorways or if you’re wondering what to do with this great, curvy room now that you’ve planned to add arched openings, it's essential to consider the room’s decor and accessories.

Whenever you want to combine items in a room, whether it's dark and light wood, new and vintage pieces, or two architectural styles, the key is to repeat the theme without going overboard—make it feel intentional. One unusual feature, like an arched doorway, may feel accidental or out-of-place, but echoing a few curves and rounded lines throughout the room will help it feel deliberate and well-thought-out.

Design + Image: EyeSwoon

There are many ways to play off the curves in a room. For example, adding a rounded countertop, curvy barstools, or even rounded cabinet fronts can feel cohesive. If you have straight windows, or a linear, square fireplace and mantel, include a rounded coffee table and soft chairs. Spherical light fixtures are another great way to echo the softness of the space.

So, are arched openings a must-have? No—but I would argue they can certainly add beauty, playfulness, and visual interest to your space. Interior (and even exterior) archways are a great feature to explore, especially if they fit within your architectural design, decor, and style.

Design: Marie Flanigan Interiors | Photography: Julie Soefer

Like any decor or home-building decision, moderation is an excellent guideline to follow. If you want to add an archway or two, do it deliberately—not just because you love the look, but because you know it will enhance your space. Repeat the curves in your other decor to complement the archways, and you'll create a look that feels purposeful and fresh.

What do you think of arches? Let me know in the comments below.

X Lauren


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