I wonder what an English speaking person would call a roof pitch viewed from inside the house like seen in the image below:

enter image description here

For example, how would I describe the location of the desk beneath the window if I want to make sure that my reader understands that it is situated beneath a roof pitch?

The desk is placed beneath ___

  • 2
    This seems more a question about architecture than about English.
    – WS2
    Oct 28 '15 at 9:56
  • 10
    @WS2, architectural vocabulary is part of English so I don't see the problem. Oct 28 '15 at 10:03
  • 1
    @chaslyfromUK True, although assuming "an English speaking person" is also an architect is an unusual assumption. I don't think the overwhelming majority of people have ever thought about this situation enough to be more than vaguely aware that there might be an adjectival phrase to describe it. In other words, OP, if you plan on using whatever expression you get from here in casual conversation with anyone who isn't an architecture fetishist, prepare to get quizzical looks. Oct 28 '15 at 11:16
  • 2
    @ParthianShot, Have you looked at my answer? Anyone who has a roof like this knows, "under the rafters" as I have demonstrated with numerous examples. You don't have to be an architect. (Some of those quotes appear to be from advertising copywriters and they are renowned for their ignorance of anything technical) Oct 28 '15 at 11:18
  • 2
    @chaslyfromUK I suppose that's fair, although it's still pretty uncommon (at least in U.S. English), and although I recognized the word and was aware it's part of the interior of a roof, I wasn't sure what type of beam it was referring to. I actually had it confused with "collar beam", to be honest, until I actually looked it up. Oct 28 '15 at 11:27

In the UK at least, the desk in the picture is in an area known as "in the eaves",

Also think about storage, as built-in space can often be included, especially in the eaves. (-- Home Owners Alliance website)

or "under the eaves":

A bed tucked behind a curtain under the eaves makes for a charming den. (-- House & Garden magazine, Dec 2012)

In my experience, it would be understood that "in the eaves" means an area with reduced ceiling height - no-one would expect to be able to stand upright there.

Historically, the eaves themselves are the external parts of a pitched roof which overhang the outside wall. By proximity, the name is now associated with the part of the inside roof space nearest to the eaves.

EDIT to clairify - this only applies to the part of the space next to the (low) wall. Your question asks about the ceiling and could refer to anywhere in that space. I'd just call that a "sloping ceiling".

  • 2
    @downvoter - go on, give me a clue.
    – JHCL
    Oct 28 '15 at 10:46
  • +1... but only because you specifically call out that the "historical" (or, as I would have worded it, "technical") definition of eaves is the external parts, but is taken by many to include internal parts. [At a guess, the downvoter may be a technical purist and dislike this usage of "eaves".]
    – AndyT
    Oct 28 '15 at 11:52
  • Also, I think that "sloping ceiling" is possibly the best answer.
    – AndyT
    Oct 28 '15 at 12:10
  • 3
    In my experience with American English, I think most people would colloquially understand "under the eaves" to mean any place underneath the sloping ceiling of the top floor of a building with a sloped roof, regardless of proximity to the outside wall.
    – recognizer
    Oct 28 '15 at 19:57
  • 1
    Agreed with @recognizer, I can't say I frequently use or hear the word eaves here in America, but it was what came to mind when I read the question.
    – KRyan
    Oct 28 '15 at 20:40

That is a gable roof or pitched roof:

  • a roof sloping downward in two parts at an angle from a central ridge, so as to leave a gable at each end.


Seen form the inside it is called gable ceiling:

  • A home with a pitched roof may allow the owner to create interior spaces with gable ceilings. Gable ceilings rise upward in a triangular shape creating a sense of space, grandeur and openness. However, some gable ceilings can also feel cramped and uncomfortable. A gable ceilings utilizes a peaked or triangular roof and may not be the best ceiling choice for every home.

The Gable Roof: History of a Common Roof Construction Style.

  • The gable roof style has its roots in some very impressive Greek and Roman architecture.


  • 2
    While true for the roofspace pictured, it should be mentioned that the situation would also apply under a hipped roof - i.e. one without gables.
    – JHCL
    Oct 28 '15 at 10:13
  • @JHCL - that's architecture, OP is not asking how to make one, just what it is called. A good interior decorator could make any kink of ceiling from any kind of roof .
    – user66974
    Oct 28 '15 at 10:35
  • 3
    Although you mentioned "pitched", your answer appeared to limit the application to "gables", with the examples and links. But there are no gables here, for instance.
    – JHCL
    Oct 28 '15 at 10:45
  • 1
    This doesn't usefully distinguish the restricted height above the desk from the full-height part of the room, as far as I can see.
    – Useless
    Oct 28 '15 at 11:37
  • 1
    I'm pretty sure that picture does not show a gabled roof
    – James
    Oct 29 '15 at 6:44

I am an English (American) speaker and an architect, and these are my answers to the two questions I think you are asking:

  1. What term would I use to describe the ceiling (the roof pitch)? It depends on many factors ... contexts of the usage, physical context of the space, intent of your usage, etc., but these would be most likely:

    • sloped ceiling
    • sloped (or vaulted) ceiling of the attic space

I would not call this a gabled ceiling. In fact, I have never used or heard of the term, and if an eHow entry is the source I would be skeptical.

  1. How would I describe the location of the desk beneath the window? Once again, context is important but probably more important is the intent. Is the description to help sell a house or is it for a painting bid? In the absence of any intent, my literal response would be "the desk is located beneath a sloped skylight in an attic room".
  • 1
    I don't think I'd call the specific picture from the OP a vaulted ceiling. To me that conjures up an image of full head height at the edges of the room and "extra" height in the middle of the room.
    – AndyT
    Oct 28 '15 at 14:18
  • 3
    I would not use vaulted without the qualifier "of an attic space". Vaulted by itself implies (to me) something taller and perhaps grander. That being said, "sloped ceiling" does not describe a ceiling that slopes up from two sides to meet at a high point in the middle. "Vault" doesn't exclusively describe that condition, but it includes that condition and is probably the most common interpretation.
    – rwhtx
    Oct 28 '15 at 15:02
  • @AndyT, vaulted seems perfectly correct to me as the term refers to shape and has very little to do with height. Although your impressions may be true that vaulted ceilings often give you much more headroom than necessary.
    – Octopus
    Oct 28 '15 at 18:52


The desk is placed beneath the rafters.

Upstairs, nestled beneath the rafters, the charming bedroom contains a double bed. Museum View penthouse Amsterdam

Even thought the rafters are covered over with plasterboard you are still under the rafters.


squeeze shelves under the rafters

Cabinet under the rafters

Kids’ Rooms: Under the Rafters

Up high under the rafters, this white on white bed easily doubles as a reading nook by day.

No hay now, just a pretty bed under the rafters

The loft bedroom is a romantic getaway with a queen bed under the rafters.

  • 9
    Everything in that room is beneath the rafters regardless of ceiling height.
    – Useless
    Oct 28 '15 at 11:36
  • 3
    I tend to agree with @Useless. In fact everything in my house is beneath the rafters, some of it just happens to also be below the ceiling/floor joists too.
    – AndyT
    Oct 28 '15 at 11:53
  • 3
    Suppose you asked me where to find something, and I said, "Beneath your bed," but the sought-for object was actually on a table on a lower floor, you would rightly accuse me of speaking falsely even if the table and bed happened to be perfectly aligned on a vertical axis. The desk is correctly described as being under the rafters, although its proximity to the wall implies that "under the eaves" is a more precise (though perhaps less architecturally accurate) description.
    – David K
    Oct 28 '15 at 13:10
  • @DavidK - I take your point, my previous comment gave a rather stupid example.
    – AndyT
    Oct 28 '15 at 14:15
  • This doesn't answer the question of "what is the roof pitch called". It's looking for a term that describes this angle of ceiling/roof; your answer describes a way to refer to rooms that have this angle of ceiling/roof.
    – TylerH
    Oct 28 '15 at 16:15

It's called a "vaulted ceiling".

Vaulted means arched, but when it come to roofs and ceilings it also refers to any sort of triangular truss as well. The truss can be hollow as in your image or consist of cross members of varying degrees of complexity.

Here are some other examples of vaulted ceilings as a simple google image search which indicates how commonly the phrase is used to refer to such an arrangement.

"The desk is placed beneath a vaulted ceiling."

Or even:

"The room where the desk is situated has a vaulted ceiling."

  • more generally, the desk is tucked under the roof vault.
    – dwoz
    Oct 28 '15 at 19:26

The desk is placed beneath a gambrel shaped ceiling (or put more simply, a sloping or attic ceiling).

gambrel roof: a roof with a lower steeper slope and an upper less steep one on each of its two sides M-W

  • 8
    The OP picture isn't of a gambrel ceiling as you've defined it (or as I understand it).
    – JHCL
    Oct 28 '15 at 11:06

My impulse would be to say "in the garret" or "under a garret window." The definition of garret window is apparently "A skylight that lies along the slope of the roof," so this seems to fit well.


For example, how would I describe the location of the desk beneath the window if I want to make sure that my reader understands that it is situated beneath a roof pitch?

The desk is located under a skylight which is:

A window set in a roof or ceiling at the same angle.

Its not important to describe the roof, since the fact that its angled is part of the description of the window.

  • Hi Burhan, Welcome to EL&U. Great answer. Good thing that you have included a link too. Most of the time, this is a mistake which new people commit while posting their answers. You have done your homework well, I guess. :) Oct 29 '15 at 6:30
  • Thanks for your answer. The window just happened to be in the first picture I grabbed that showed a pitched roof, though. My question is not about windows at all. Oct 29 '15 at 7:55
  • 1
    @Burhan - it is important to describe the roof, because a skylight is not necessarily in a sloped ceiling. If the ceiling is horizontal, then a horizontal window in it is "at the same angle" as the ceiling.
    – AndyT
    Oct 29 '15 at 9:07

Your desk is next to a dormer window in an upper half-storey.

Your desk sits within an upper half-storey. It also happens to be next to a skylight style window.


And just for fun, here's a discussion about story vs. storey. Apparently, as an American, I am supposed to leave the "e" out, but I learned it with an "e" and I am keeping it!

  • 2
    You might want to re-read that definition of dormer.
    – JHCL
    Oct 28 '15 at 20:41
  • 2
    @JHCL- Agree. That's not a dormer window in OP's picture.
    – Jim
    Oct 28 '15 at 21:42
  • @cobaltduck - Personally I'd call them velux windows rather than skylights. "Skylight" to me implies in a horizontal ceiling rather than a sloped one. That said velux is a brand name, do it's not a great description to use. I can't think of a generic name for it offhand. Burhan's answer does suggest that skylight is valid in this case though.
    – AndyT
    Oct 29 '15 at 9:04

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