What is considered a ‘desirable feature’ in a home has changed over the past decades; from building materials to design, humans have adapted their homes according to the availability of resources, weather, and aesthetic trends. Ceiling height and design is one of those features that has changed according to societal trends.
For example, before the 19th century, ceilings were as low as six feet as generally speaking, people we not as tall and therefore did not require extra ceiling heigh. The post-war era brought eight-foot ceilings which continued through the 70s and 80s, with height ceilings often being a sign of wealth and grandeur. However, many opted for low ceilings so the home is easier to keep warm or cool, which was dependent on wealth and their accessibility to resources. In more modern times and with advancements in housing technology such as heating and insulation, ceiling height has yet again adapted to reflect aesthetic preference rather than functionality.
What is so good about a tall ceiling?
While low ceilings create a sense of coziness and warmth, they also create the illusion of a smaller space. High ceilings, on the other hand, create a feeling of openness and add elegance to a home. Many homes now even have double-height ceilings that give a sense of luxury and grandeur.
If you have a home that has a lower ceiling, and you want to create the illusion of a taller ceiling add a sense of openness and light to your home without major structural renovations, this article will discuss small aesthetic design choices you can make to create the illusion of a high ceiling without breaking the bank.
Long curtains are a high ceiling’s best friend
Design tip: use long curtains to accentuate length. When you have curtains that stop just right above the window, the visual flow is broken which makes the ceiling look lower. With this in mind, be mindful when selecting the texture and weight of your curtains. Stay clear of frills or tiers since they draw the eye’s attention to the edges rather than the length. Choose simple and plain fabrics arranged in clean vertical lines. Light and flowy materials are also a great choice to add a sense of openness and light to your room.
Choose the appropriate paint
Paint is one element that can make or break any space. To achieve the illusion of a higher ceiling, paint your ceiling a lighter color, preferably a shade of white. Light colors do a great job of opening up a space and giving that light and airy vibe. Interior painters suggest going one or two shades lighter than what you have for your walls or even have the same light shade on your ceiling and walls for that seamless look.
Remove skirting boards along the ceiling
Molding and skirting boards are used to define a ceiling and add extra detail, but in a room with short ceilings, this is the last thing you want. The illusion is that your eye is drawn to the skirtings, which breaks the seamless flow from wall to ceiling. Skirting boards from the base/floor are also not helping your room appear larger as they cut the length of your room and give the illusion that you have a shorter wall, therefore, a lower ceiling.
Removing skirtings entirely and opting for a seamless clean look will make your room appear larger. If the room or space already has molding or skirting boards, hire a plasterer to remove them and create a smooth, perfect angle between your wall and the ceiling. Without these cornices, this look is called ‘square set’ because of the square edge that this technique gives to the corners. This creates the illusion of higher ceilings and gives a modern contemporary aesthetic.
Choose low lying furniture
With your window treatments and painting focused on expanding the illusion of height, continue this trend with the rest of your pieces in the room or space. Low-lying furniture helps anchor the room without being overbearing. It also provides the necessary contrast to balance out many of your vertical and length-focused choices in your home.
Avoid high back chairs and continue the theme of light colors into your furniture to fully maximize that tall ceiling illusion. Horizontal furniture like long tables or lounges draws attention away from the low height of the ceiling and onto feature items of furniture.
Lighting makes a big difference
Extra light in a room always helps in giving it an expansive feel, but not all lights are created equal. Hanging or pendant lights just bring the ceiling down and make it appear even shorter. To give extra height to your ceilings, downlights are the best. Aside from lighting the room, downlights give a minimalist look to the space whilst also giving you the opportunity to choose energy-efficient LED downlights. Additionally, flood your home with natural light for a fool-proof way of opening up a room.
If you are aiming for tall ceilings for a living room, study, or bedroom, consider accentuating a wall with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. With shelves coming up from the floor all the way to the ceiling, it acts the same way as long curtains in that it gives an illusion of great height. Paint the bookshelves the same light color as your walls or even your ceiling for that unified look.
Use vertical patterns
If you are drawn to patterns and you have an eclectic taste, opt for vertical patterns to draw the eye upwards. Taking cues from fashion, use vertical patterns on your walls to bump up the ceiling. Whether it’s various colorful shades of stripes or vertical patterned wallpaper, this design principle will work every time to elongate your walls and extend your ceiling.
If you want the benefits of a tall ceiling: more space and openness in your room and a sense of opulence, you can achieve this without undergoing major structural renovations. With design and aesthetic choices, you can make your shorter ceiling give the illusion that it has extra height, all the while keeping the perks of having a lower ceiling such as being easier to maintain the perfect temperature in your home, the best of both worlds.