7 Design Rules Pros Always Use to Make Ceilings Look Taller

Hang Them High

Window treatments can make a world of difference. “The golden rule when it comes to making ceilings appear taller is to hang drapery as close to the ceiling as possible," Joey Conicella, president of Soco Interiors, says. "It’s like wearing a pair of heels and having your pants go all the way to the floor."

Let Art Do the Talking

Similar to the window covering trick, hanging art higher up on the walls can also create the illusion of taller ceilings. A general rule of thumb is to make sure the center of a framed piece is roughly at eye level. While this is subjective as you can be a little over 5 feet tall or a towering 6 feet tall, most experts say the midpoint of the framed artwork should be approximately 57 to 60 inches from the floor. So, consider hanging the artwork just a few inches higher.

Throw Down the Heavy Crown

Just as interior aesthetics have changed over time, so has crown molding. There’s now a whole range of crown molding styles available to suit various interiors, from traditional to minimal. However, if you’re making over a room with a low ceiling, Conicella recommends avoiding heavy crown moldings so you avoid accentuating where the walls stop and the ceiling starts.

Blend It All Together

Perhaps your space already has trim work, whether a crown, base molding, or a chair rail. Consider painting everything the same color. “Rather than breaking up the baseboards, crown, and walls visually with two different colors, use the same hue on all these elements to create a cohesive look,” Marker says. Extending the paint onto the ceiling goes even further in drawing the eye upward.

Divvy Up Color

If you want to paint dual colors in a vertically challenged space, there are ways you can still do it while achieving a trompe l’oeil, namely by extending one paint color just a bit into the walls or ceiling. For example, try painting three-quarters of the walls a single color, with the top quarter and the ceiling in another.

Don’t Tip the Scale

Though the idea of sinking into a giant, puffy sofa is comforting, be sure to consider the scale of the couch—or any other furniture in a room with a low ceiling—before purchasing it. “In general, oversized or out-of-scale furniture will always make a room look smaller and its ceilings look shorter,” Conicella says. Instead, go for apartment-scaled (like compact) furnishings that take up less of a space’s footprint. Low-slung furniture and extra breathing room will give the space a loftier feel.

Go Vertical

Think of verticality and how to accentuate it. “Vertical stripes, whether on wallpaper or via paint, will elongate any space,” Conicella says. And it doesn’t have to be literal stripes: It can be other patterns that align vertically, such as flora or fauna. Another option that can create the same effect is hanging or leaning a long and slim mirror. Not only will it draw the eye, but it’ll reflect more light, making the space feel bigger and brighter.

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