How to make low ceilings look higher with decorating

Written by melissa lewis
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How to make low ceilings look higher with decorating
Removing tall, bulky furnishings can make this ceiling appear higher. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

If the ceilings in your home seem to be closing in on you, you don't have to resort to drastic measures. While knocking ceilings out or relocating might solve the problem, it's easier for you to make low ceilings look higher with a few simple decorating tricks that create the illusion of height in your space.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Furnish your home with lower-profile pieces. Taller furniture obscures more of the wall, whereas low-profile pieces open up the space. When decorating small spaces, it's best if the largest pieces of furniture in the room lean toward a more minimal design.

  2. 2

    Add vertical elements to your rooms. Although tall, oversized furnishings generally shrink a space, a strategically placed tall, narrow bookcase or lamp draws the eye up. Mount drapery rods close to the ceiling and hang long curtains that extend to the floor. Paint an accent wall with vertical stripes or apply wallpaper with a vertical pattern if you want to disguise a low ceiling. Decorating with vertical stripes -- in moderation -- visually stretches the height of a room.

  3. 3

    Light your rooms with table lamps and wall sconces. Overhead lighting such as chandeliers and pendants draw the eye to the centre of the room and emphasise the lack of vertical space, as do ceiling fans.

  4. 4

    Hang art and accents at different heights on the wall. If everything on your walls is hung at the same level, it creates a horizontal line that makes your ceilings appear lower. Create an arrangement of artwork that tricks the eye. Decorate a narrow wall by hanging art in a long vertical line that begins close to the ceiling.

  5. 5

    Paint the room in a low-contrast colour scheme. Pale colours make the room seem larger. Use the lightest shade, preferably a cool hue, for the ceiling, as it makes the ceiling visually recede. Choosing bolder colours for the trim draws attention away from the ceiling.

  6. 6

    Install dark-coloured flooring. Whether it's stained hardwood, laminate, carpeting or a large area rug, a darker floor visually drops away, which makes the space between it and a low ceiling seem more expansive.

Tips and warnings

  • Fixtures, wall sconces and lamps that cast light upward help to create the perception of height.
  • Using glossy paint on a low ceiling is an effective way to enhance it. The sheen reflects light and opens up the perceived height of the room.
  • Avoid horizontal design elements such as crown mouldings, chair rails and wallpaper borders that visually cut your walls in half.

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