If you live in a space with 8-foot-ceilings, don't despair: Just as some petite women utilize fashion tricks to make them appear taller, designers have tricks for making your ceiling look higher. Full disclosure: As a 5'11 woman living in a home with high Victorian ceilings, I will be flipping this advice on its head: horizontal stripes here I come...
Ten Tips For Making A Low Ceiling Look Higher:
Ceiling color: Paint your ceiling a color lighter than the walls, preferably white. Some believe high-gloss paint is best because it reflects light and makes the ceiling look somehow less fixed and static, while others say a matte finish will help the ceiling to blend in more. Some designers suggest you paint the wall beyond the top of the wall. In other words, paint the first two or three inches of ceiling around the perimeter the same color as the walls to give the illusion of taller, higher walls.
Crown Molding and Trim: Some say crown molding and trim at the top of the walls should be painted in the same color as the walls so as not to draw attention upward, which would highlight the low ceiling height. I'm a bit conflicted about this because I love contrasting trim, but you can still have contrasting baseboards, etc.
High Art: Hang artwork slightly higher than you normally would. Hanging small frames above door openings and windows also tricks the eye into thinking the room has higher ceilings.
Decorative paneling: I like this idea from Better Homes & Gardens: You can make the ceiling look higher by covering the lower two-thirds of walls with beadboard or decorative paneling. Then paint the ceiling the same color as the upper walls. In rooms with a chair-rail, consider painting both the upper part of the walls and the ceiling the same light color, with a darker color below the chair rail.
Tall floral arrangements: I came across this helpful (and new to me) advice on Shelterpop, where Brian Patrick Flynn of HGTV's Design Happens recommends setting out a tall urn or vase filled with seasonal grasses or blossoming branches because it slows down the eye's movement as it moves gradually upward.
Avoid overhead lights: Skip fans and ceiling or overhead lights because they draw attention to the ceiling. If you do hang a chandelier or pendant, hang it slightly higher than you normally would.
Raised door openings: Mrs Howard, Personal Shopper has this nifty recommendation, which only applies if you are willing to make some structural changes (say, if you have just bought a home with low ceilings or are renovating a room): She says you should raise the interior door openings all the way up to the ceiling-or close to it.
Vertical stripes and patterns: Taking a cue from fashion, it is best to use vertical stripes instead of horizontal stripes, because vertical stripes create the illusion of height. And this rule doesn't only apply to paint and wallpaper: A four-poster bed with tall, skinny posts can also draw the eye upward.
Floor-to-ceiling curtains: Hang window treatments as high as possible. Floor-to-ceiling curtains elongate a room.
Low-profile furniture: Use lower profile furniture with fewer horizontal elements (arm rests, for example) to emphasize the distance between the furniture and the ceiling.
(Image: Mrs. Howard, Personal Shopper.)