It is difficult to think of residential architecture that is more glamorous, more awe-inspiring and more magnificent than high ceilings. There is a reason that expensive homes tend to have 12-plus feet between ceiling and floor; the empty overhead space feels grand and generous, welcoming visitors inside without a word.
Unfortunately, few homes have gloriously high ceilings; in fact, most homes boast ceilings that are shorter than homeowners prefer, which can make a space feel cramped and uncomfortable even if it is beautifully decorated. Raising the ceiling height isn’t possible in most houses, so homeowners have to make their rooms feel taller and more spacious with sneaky design. Some ideas for giving the illusion of high ceilings include:
Buy Low Furniture
Forced perspective is a technique that manipulates human visual perception to make onlookers observe objects and spaces at different scales to reality. Investing in smaller, lower furniture is a way to use forced perspective to your advantage in your home, making rooms feel taller and wider than they actually are. This trick works best in rooms decorated to a contemporary or minimalist style, both of place high value on empty space. It isn’t ideal for farmhouse or maximalist décor, which require filling rooms with bulky, bold or otherwise excessive furniture.
Place Curtains up High
Regardless of the height of your ceilings, you should get in the habit of hanging of your curtains well above the top of your windows. Placing a curtain rod just below the ceiling helps to elongate your room upward, stretching your walls and windows taller. Though larger curtains can be more expensive, the added cost is well worth the feeling of grandeur that properly hung curtains can provide.
Switch Ceiling Fans and Light Fixtures
Even the tallest ceilings can be made to feel oppressive if lights, ceiling fans and other fixtures are hanging disproportionately low. If you have low ceilings to start, you should avoid large or low-hanging lights, like chandeliers or pendants, which will draw attention to the lack of overhead space. The same is true for typical ceiling fans, which can hang lower and include light kits that take up necessary headroom. You can opt instead for flush mount lights or even recessed lighting, as long as you place your can lights appropriately in your ceiling. As for your fan, you can replace it with a low-profile ceiling fan, which provides the same efficient cooling without eating up as much space.
Draw Attention Down
While you can try your best to maximize overhead space, most illusions of tall ceilings are shattered as soon as a viewer looks up. Thus, you should try to draw attention down toward the floor. One of the easiest ways to do this is with a bold area rug that has bright colors or a loud pattern, but you can also adorn your floor with décor like magazine racks, floor pillows, small statues or potted plants.
Focus on Vertical Design Elements
Like curtains hung higher than the window, vertical décor can provide the illusion of taller walls and higher ceilings. There are a few different vertical design elements you can consider incorporating into your space, such as:
- Long, thin wall hangings. Any wall hanging that is much taller than it is wide will help stretch your walls. Thin artworks and mirrors are excellent options.
- Narrow bookshelves. A narrow bookshelf might not hold all your tomes, but it is a larger piece of furniture that can offer vertical movement without taking up excessive space.
- Paneling. Instead of hanging horizontal shiplap, you should consider hanging vertical wood paneling, which provides sophistication and the illusion of height.
- Vertical gardens. In rooms that get plenty of sunlight, you can build a vertical garden on your wall. If your thumb is black, you could mimic a vertical garden with fake plants.
Be Creative With Paint
Finally, you can pull out the paintbrushes to give the rooms with low ceilings a much-needed makeover. Lighter paint colors help to maximize natural light, which makes a room feel more spacious; white walls are and always will be in style, but you could also consider light beiges, light pinks and light greens, all of which are popular colors for today. You might also choose to paint just half of the wall in a color, which can break up the wall and give the illusion of taller ceilings.
Not every homeowner has gorgeous, grand, sky-high ceilings — but every homeowner can take pride in the ceilings they have. With the above tricks, even the lowest ceilings won’t stand in the way of attractive and comfortable interior style.