Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Guest Post: Interior Design Musings

Today Mandi from Interior Design Musings is blogging! She'll be talking about how to deal with low ceilings -- never an easy task! 

I am thrilled to be guest blogging with Kimberly today!  And I thought it would be interesting to talk about how to deal with low ceilings in a space.  About a year ago, I did a redesign for a client who had very low ceilings in her family room.  She really did not like the space so I made suggestions on a new layout, a few new furnishings to freshen up the room and several ideas on how to make the ceilings seem higher.  Here are a few "tried and true" tricks that have worked for me in the past.

1. Avoid Hanging Fixtures
The first thing your eye is drawn to in a low ceiling room is a hanging fixture.  Select something that sits "tight" to the ceiling with a simple design.  I really love recessed lighting in rooms with a low ceiling, but it's not always possible to install them post construction.

So, if recessed cans are not an option,  here are a few to consider.
This old school style looks amazing in a kitchen or family room.

This sleek modern design would work for a living room space, formal foyer, office or even a bedroom.

In general, I'm not crazy about ceiling fans.  But let's face it, some rooms really need the extra air flow, and they are just necessary.  If you have low ceilings and need a fan, consider a low profile "hugger" for your space.

They sit super close to the ceiling; and because of the design, there is no wobbly effect when the fan is on high (I know you know what I'm talking about)!

This style is very versatile and would work well in a modern as well as rustic home.

I also like this minimalist version.

2. Go With One Color 
Paint the walls, crown molding and ceiling all one color. This technique works best in an attic setting with angled walls.

3. Receding Ceiling 
(try saying that fast three times)
Paint the ceiling a cool color like pale blue.  This will make the ceiling feel more distant; and thus, taller since cool colors recede.  This is particularly great when the ceiling has some detailing such as beam work or a tray which will draw attention on it's own.

4. Create a Bit More Ceiling
Choose a light color, such as glossy white or pale blue.  Then, paint four to six inches down each wall from the ceiling. This "extension of the ceiling area" will give the room a taller, larger look.


5.  Consider Vertical Stripes
If you are not into bold contrasting stripes, (which I confess, I am not) consider using the same color of paint in a different finish to get the same lengthening effect in a subtle way.


You can also create the same effect using moldings and paint, as below.

6. Sky High Curtains
To elongate the look of windows and walls, hang all window treatments as high as you can get them on the wall.  Works every time.


7. Adjust or Eliminate Chair Rails
If your ceilings are only seven or eight feet high, chair rails and other horizontal features will make your ceiling feel even lower.  By completely eliminating the chair rails, you will get a lengthening effect.  

If you love the chair rail look, then consider placing it lower on the wall to trick the eye into thinking the room is taller. (Usually, chair rail is placed about one-third up the length of a wall.  So, place it a bit lower to achieve this effect).  Also, consider eliminating thick baseboards or any other horizontal lines from the space.

8. Hang Artwork a Bit Higher 

By hanging artwork a bit higher on the wall, you will create the illusion of higher ceilings. 

9. Choose Smaller Scaled Furnishings 

When selecting furnishings for a low ceiling area, consider selecting lower scale pieces to give the room the visual appearance of space. 

10. Combine Techniques for Major Impact
All these techniques can go a long way in helping create the illusion of taller ceilings, especially when you combine them in one space.  

I have enjoyed guest blogging, please stop by and see me sometime over at the Muse! M.

A big thanks to Mandi for sharing her insights! This is such a tough subject to tackle!


  1. Those are some great tips!! We have used the "sky high curtain" technique to help with our 8 ft ceilings! Take care, Caroline

  2. Hey Mandi
    Wow amazing living room.. Love the the views and techniques you have used to design it. keep it up!

  3. I love the front porch and the glass door between the home and patio... great insight...


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