7 Ways to Make Low Ceilings Seem Higher

Looking at inspiration photos of vaults, trays, trusses and other high-soaring ceiling features can make those of us with low ceilings feel, well, low. But low ceilings should not have the power to keep your home from feeling like your dream house. Check out seven clever ways designers give ceilings a visual lift.
1. Forgo Ceiling Moldings and Millwork

Jena Bula of Delphinium Designhad only 38 square feet to work with in her guest bath in North Carolina, so she needed to find ways to make the room feel more expansive. “A good trick to make your ceilings look higher is to skip crown molding and install tall baseboards,” she says. 

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2. Bounce Light With a High-Gloss Paint

While this Florida condo has incredible views of Biscayne Bay and a marina, its ceilings were, as interior designer Lourdes Gabriela puts it, “oppressively low.” Low-hanging track lights and short louvered doors around the condo only made them feel lower. 

After getting rid of the track lights and short doors, the designer employed a couple of other tricks to make the ceilings feel higher. One, she painted them a glossy white to bounce the light around. Two, she used a flush-mount chandelier over the dining table. It leaves ample space between its lowest point and the tabletop, and it makes the ceiling seem higher than a low-hanging traditional chandelier would.

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3. Extend Cabinets and Other Built-Ins to the Ceiling

Gabriela also removed a soffit that chopped up the kitchen ceiling in an awkward way and extended the cabinets to the ceiling. The exaggerated cabinet height makes the ceiling feel higher. She strategically dropped the ceiling and placed soffits where needed to house wiring ductwork.

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4. Go for Floor-to-Ceiling Millwork

In this Atlanta cottage, designer Carl Mattison installed a wall of gridded paneling to define a small eating space. Seeing so many stacked squares lends the illusion of height. Painting the millwork and adjacent kitchen cabinets the same color keeps the room from feeling chopped up.
5. Use a Toilet With a Low Tank

You don’t need to go Lilliputian with all the furnishings, but there are times when standard ones can draw the eye down. In this low-ceilinged Toronto bathroom, the team at Two Birds Designtricked the eye by choosing a toilet with a low tank. The tall expanse of wall between the top of the tank and the ceiling makes the ceiling seem higher. Using low-slung furniture will have a similar effect in any room.

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6. Emphasize Long Horizontal Planes

In this Michigan kitchen, the designers at MainStreet Design Build installed display shelves that draw the eye to the long horizontal planes and the objects on them.
Here’s a wider view of the shelves within the room. The generous amount of white space between the top shelf and the ceiling makes the ceiling seem higher.

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7. Go Up to the Rafters

Dropped ceilings are most commonly removed in basements because they often have the lowest ceilings in the house. This exposes the ceiling joists and beams, as well wires, pipes and ductwork, creating an industrial loft-like look. In this project from The Cousins, the ceiling’s dark color helps camouflage those elements.

Source: Houzz Contributor/Becky Harris, May 2, 2019

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