low ceiling?…
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Low Ceiling

Peruse any design magazine or site and you’ll see rooms with soaring ceilings and lofty looks. Which is beautiful, but… what if you don’t have high ceilings? From downsizing to buying an older style “rancher” or finishing out a basement or attic for an in-law suite, guest room, or home office, it’s not uncommon to be faced with less than lofty ceilings. Short of a major renovation, there isn’t much that can be done about it architecturally, however there are plenty of design and décor tricks to help fool you into feeling like you have more headroom.

  • Hang draperies as high as you can, all the way up to the ceiling if possible. It emphasizes the height of the room and keeps the eye moving up, up, up to the ceiling. Let them hang all the way to the floor as well, to avoid creating a horizontal break.
  • Hang large pieces of art – preferably ones with strong vertical lines, and hang them high. Like the curtain trick, hanging art higher forces the eye to move up. Opting for large pieces reduces visual clutter and creates the illusion of scale, both great ways to make a ceiling feel higher.
  • Lean a big mirror against the wall. We mean a big mirror. The more of the room it reflects the better. Leaning it against the wall creates the sense of height, making the space feel bigger.
  • Keep ceiling colors lighter than the surrounding walls – either white, or a lighter version of the wall color. The brightness above will make the ceiling recede.
  • While you’re choosing the lighter ceiling, opt for darker floors, lighter walls and even lighter ceilings – all will draw the eye up, creating the illusion of space.
  • Avoid chunky horizontal accents like crown molding, chair rails and wall paper borders. The lines will split the room up and cause a visual break.
  • Opt for table and floor lamps, sconces or recessed can lighting rather than a pendant or chandelier. You don’t want anything hanging down from the ceiling. Add up-lighting to the room as well to help enhance the illusion of height.
  • Use high up open shelving to display colorful or interesting items that will draw the eye upwards.
  • Skip the big, tall bed and go for a low-slung model. Ditto on chairs and other furniture. A standard bistro set would be better than a
  • Stay away from decorative ceilings, they may be gorgeous, but in a space with a low ceiling, they create visual clutter and bring the ceiling down.
  • Use accessories to your advantage. Opt for tall, thin candles on low tables, put the most colorful books at the top of the bookshelves, put tall-stemmed flowers in vases and use tall lamps with slim shades. All create the illusion of height and space in the room.
  • Use vertical stripes to your advantage. For a subtle look, paint vertical stripes of alternating flat and semi-gloss finish paint. For a bolder look, go wallpaper or painted stripes in coordinating colors.
  • Large prints or pattern on wallpaper can make a space feel more expansive and trick the eye into thinking the ceiling is not quite so low.
  • Embrace the low ceilings. Go for a retro, mid-century vibe in your space, or transform your room into an oasis with exotic fabrics and low-hanging lamps. Or go dark and movie-theater like for that basement family room. Accepting your low ceilings and decorating to emphasize, rather than conceal, them can be an option.
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