Tall ceilings stimulate the thought process, unlike lower ceilings, which can feel confining. However, lower ceilings can make a small living space warm and intimate. Finding that perfect balance can be more complicated than it seems.
Higher ceilings were once based on the dimensions of a room as an act of proportion. Andrea Palladio, a 16th-century Renaissance architect, was religious in following the architectural rule of thumb on calculating ceiling heights.
How to decorate a small living room with high ceilings was never an issue because they made small spaces with low ceilings. The simple rule was to make the room as high as it was broad to look better proportioned. While the concept was solid, scholars of modern architecture disputed Palladio’s rule because of energy concerns.
After years of trials, they found energy consumption to have little effect on room dimensions, heights, or lengths. New materials for windows, better insulation, and tighter air sealants helped. We know homeowners prefer more height for their living spaces and are free to make this distinction.
Although the average ceiling height today is 9 feet, sometimes 8 feet, the ceiling height will probably never be consistent. Ten or Twelve-foot ceilings are not uncommon in houses with lofts or in A-framed style homes. Today, we have many decorating tools that make a room feel comfortable regardless of the overall scale of the room.
Interior designers share their professional thoughts on small rooms with higher ceilings and the best ideas for decorating them. Here are a few ideas that may address your issues with tall ceilings and how to decorate with style.
Best Bet For Lowering A Ceiling In A Tall Living Room
There are a couple of ways to bring your ceiling down to scale in appearance without resorting to adding a drop ceiling.
Put Your Ceiling On Display
Tall walls are a great way to show decorative items without looking cluttered. That extra height in a small room is a good way to put your favorite things on display, with bookshelves built just below the ceiling.
The average vertical space for shelves is between 8 and 12 inches, 15 inches. Building an attractive rack around a high-ceiling living room will give you extra space for glass collections, books, or other items.
Light colors always add space to a room. However, in this case, the intentional separation with shelves will give your walls a pleasing and built-in look.
Depending on the adjoining room, three shelves can make a ceiling look more aligned with the overall proportion. Use white shelving to blend in with white ceilings if you have white walls. This will give the shelves a built-in appearance. Floating shelves with ornate decorative edges will add a touch of beauty.
The Commanding Tray Ceiling
This is an ingenious way to make an artful focal point out of an awkward-looking family room. An outline of horizontal pieces around the four sides of a ceiling can resemble white beams. The boxed-in effect gives the illusion of grand architectural features.
Once the tray ceiling gets added along the ceiling, the entire height of the ceiling seems to diminish and come into proportion with the entire room. If you decide to expand this pleasing accent with color, consider painting one wall a bold color.
Next, incorporate the tray’s perimeter with a patterned or textured design of a compatible hue. Adding fake beams that look real doesn’t take a lot of money.
Paint Your Ceiling Black
A high ceiling living room sounds majestic. Tall windows and crystal-dripping light fixtures just waiting on your large furniture pieces to be moved in. But once the final coffee table gets added, you realize something is wrong.
There is nothing sophisticated about a 10’x10′ enclosed room that features a wall-hugging large sectional under a 10′ ceiling. The room is off balance in so many ways.
Begin your home space repair by painting the ceiling black. This will immediately make the ceiling appear lower in the limited space. Next, the high windows should match the higher ceiling.
Use window treatments of long curtains that extend to high parts of the wall. This will bring the look of the ceiling down even more. Allow lots of natural light to flow through the room to intensify the look of ample space.
Check the diameter and height of your chandelier. Stunning lighting fixtures can be a real show-stopper, but only when strategically sized and placed. A 10’x10′ room will accept a hanging light no wider than twenty inches. It should be positioned above the coffee table by seven feet.
Reposition your furniture to sit in the middle of the room where the coffee table is immediately below your chandelier. By pulling the furniture away from the walls, the illusion of a large space gets created in such cases. Always center a chandelier over a piece of furniture, just as you do with a table in a dining area.
Minimize Your Furnishings
Heavier furniture is designed for an oversized space. A tall living room with limited floor space should concentrate on the type of furnishings in proportion to the length and width of the room. A large living room may be acceptable for a wrap-around sofa, but not a tiny space. Minimize the scale of your sofa, chairs, and side tables before tackling that tall ceiling.
Tall walls may take on a refreshing presence when lined with large windows that offer an outside view. A large accent wall can be a blessing. When decorated correctly. Instead of accenting the room’s height, downplay the size by keeping interested in eye-level displays.
Use large pictures to limit the more larger space above 8 feet. You can also use a fabric wall hanging with lots of texture and color. Leave enough room along the sides to sprinkle different-sized plates, round flat baskets, or hats around your focal point.
This will look more like a border than an attempt to play down the tall ceiling. This idea can also work for a dining room with a set of small windows or any additional space needing a secondary beauty touch-up. Other suggestions include different shaped mirrors or empty picture frames.
Create an artistic floor space with an area rug and a glass coffee table that emphasizes color and texture. Keep the lower half of the room exciting and away from the height of the ceiling.
Types of Ceilings That Are Tall
Vaulted Ceiling With Beams
A sprawling great room with architectural details of a cathedral ceiling and floor-to-ceiling windows can give you many great ideas in decorated wall ideas. However, the height may be a little overbearing if you have an offshoot of a smaller room, like a library or den.
Wooden beams can help to soften this look by dropping them down to an 8-foot low ceiling level. Use exposed cross beams or form open drop-down ceiling beams. You have just created a lower ceiling without closing up the actual space. Place a wall of art or tall bookcases at this lower ceiling beam level.
Book lovers will appreciate the display of novels and poetry. However, if you feel many books are not inviting, separate your shelves with the rule of thirds. Arrange books, glassware, and favorite items along each row divided into three.
Pay particular attention to shelves within eye level where your best display should balance to the right instead of centered. Using this rule will keep a natural balance on your entire wall. A gallery-style wall is the best way to turn your favorite art or memorable trips into your happy place.
Refine Living Room Looks With Wood Sloped Ceiling
Wood can make the entire house feel warm and intimate. A wooden ceiling automatically brings the ceiling closer to you in tall rooms. This can work in a spacious living room, as well. Bring a single wall of wood down from a ceiling of like wood and let it wrap around a portion of the rest of the room.
This type of look can also provide the perfect spot for a pair of pendant lights to enhance the illumination in equal parts throughout your grand space. Slanted ceilings and walls look well when painted an excellent solid color against light hues.
Bedrooms fitted with dormers and large pieces of furniture will carry a bold statement when sloped ceilings and walls become a focal point.
It does not take much time or money to develop and implement a plan for emphasizing or deemphasizing a tall ceiling. Think of this space as a valuable architectural detail with creative solutions waiting to be discovered.
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Karen Gillan, Senior Writer
Experienced Writer with 20+ years. Demonstrated writing experience includes technical writing, magazines, story writing, and journalist projects. Karen has a powerful media and communication background with academic training from LaSalle University (architecture, interior design) and business college courses. She loves editing novels and contributed to a national art journal.