Our Best Tips & Inspiration for Dealing with Low Ceilings

published Aug 30, 2015
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(Image credit: Veneer Designs)

A lot of the spaces that we feature on Apartment Therapy have gorgeous, soaring ceilings. “Sure,” I hear you say, “it’s easy to make a space look good when your ceiling are 14 feet tall.” But what if your living space is a little humbler, with ceilings no higher than the standard eight feet? There are still things you can do to make your home look fantastic — and spacious to boot. Here are four ideas, with plenty of (low-ceilinged) examples to inspire.

Paint your ceiling and walls the same color.

1. In the space above, white walls seamlessly transition into the ceiling, blurring the distinction between the two and making the room seem much more spacious. By interior designer Natalie Myers of Veneer Designs, spotted on SF Girl by Bay. (Photographed by Amy Bartlam.)
2. In Jim & Laura’s Rhode Island home, a white ceiling, walls and trim keep a low-ceilinged space from feeling claustrophobic.
3. A bright white ceiling amost disappears in this living room from My Domaine. (Remember that to get the optimal effect, it’s best to paint the ceiling and the walls in paint with the same sheen, too.)

Add vertical elements that draw the eye up.

1. Tall bookcases enhance the height of a dining space in Savannah’s Los Angeles home.
2. Curtains that go all the way to the ceiling and tall bookcases do the trick in this room from My Domaine.
3. A curving Arco lamp adds an element of verticality to this room from Elle Decoration UK, via 79 Ideas.
4. A gallery wall in Melinda’s Los Angeles home keeps the eye moving upward.

‘Weight’ the bottom of the room.

This may seem counterintuitive (and it is, in fact, the opposite of the advice above), but clustering objects in the lower portion of a room can actually make the room feel much more spacious by drawing the eye to the expanse of wall above.

1. Keeping furniture and accessories low gives the living room Julia & Bruno’s Quebec home the feeling of a much larger space. (Notice that the wall hanging on the left adds a single vertical element — it’s possible to mix strategies in the same room.)
2. Here’s the same strategy successfully employed in a living room from House to Home.
3. Furniture and accessories clustered in the bottom third of the room give the living room of this serene Ohio home an airy feel.

Embrace it!

These rooms find success by embracing their long, low qualities. If your space is wide but not tall, why not accentuate the positive?

1. The abstract painting emphasizes the horizontal element of Cristina & Paolo’s Cotswold Home, but minimal furnishings mean the space is anything but cramped.
2 &3. In this Houston home, a long, low picture rail keeps the focus on the space’s biggest dimension.
4. This living room from Lonny embraces its length, but also employs a bit of the previous two strategies: the tree adds a horizontal element, and a single art piece leaves the walls mostly free.