Low Ceiling Design Solutions: 18 Hacks With A Big Impact
As an owner of a century home, low ceilings have always been something we’ve had to work with. Through the years and from decades of experience in real estate and construction, we’ve found some clever low ceiling solutions to not only minimize the look of low ceilings, but to also bring out the unique character of this design.
Because at the end of the day, the best designs are ones that can find beauty and appeal in the uniqueness of seemingly dated existing frameworks.
And the best part is most of the design solutions below can be done quickly, affordably and without any major renovations. So let’s dive and have a look!
- Use Floor-To-Ceiling Curtains
- Use Tall Vertical Strips Or Wall Paneling
- Paint Strategically
- Use Wall Art Strategically
- Keep A Minimal Floor Design
- Use Mirrors
- Use Sunken Lights & Avoid Protruding Features
- Install Larger Windows
- Open It Up
- Avoid Bulky Shelves & Cabinets
- Expose The Beams
- Remove Crown Molding
- Raise Door Openings
- Choose Furniture With A Low Profile
- Paint The Ceilings Strategically
- Make A Vertical Wall Feature
- Pay Attention To The Floors
- Vault The Ceilings
1. Use Floor-To-Ceiling Curtains
Replacing curtains and curtain rods is a simple and quick way to change the look and feeling of a room – especially if that room has low ceilings! In fact, replacing curtains with intent to fit not only your windows but also your walls can be a simple way to add height to a low ceiling.
This is a relatively quick fix, but extending the curtain rods to sit above the window can have a strong lengthening effect for a room with low ceilings.
Besides the work involved in moving the curtain rods, using floor-to-ceiling curtains can be a simple way to quickly make low ceilings feel taller.
2. Use Tall Vertical Strips Or Wall Paneling
Wall paneling, wainscoting or adding vertical lines can be a great design element to a room. It’s a relatively simple renovation project that can enhance the formal feeling of a dining room while adding elegance to an otherwise flat space.
But what if your ceilings are low?
Well first off, adding vertical lines will cause the viewers eyes to naturally go up, which will add more height to a low ceiling. It’s the same idea behind horizontal stripes having a more widening effect.
This is another DIY project that can be done rather safely, affordably and without too much construction.
Recommended Watch: How To Install Wainscoting
3. Paint Strategically
Color psychology is a fascinating topic in itself. But for our purposes here, let’s consider how choosing the right color can either make your space feel smaller or make your rooms feel more open, fresh and taller.
According to Nick Kolenda, colors can greatly influence our mood and how we perceive things. For example, painting something white can actually portray feelings of sophistication while blue can create feelings of openness. Interesting, right!?
Forbes even suggests painting both the ceilings and the walls the same color as a way to make your ceiling appear higher.
So strategically painting a room with low ceilings using colors that will make a space more open can be a simple and affordable solution to low ceilings.
4. Use Wall Art Strategically
Not to get all deep on you, but I love how artwork can completely transform a room’s aesthetic, mood and energy. So it’s exciting news that using wall art strategically can actually have a positive visual effect on low ceiling height!
Here’s my take, using art and wall decoration that are too small will just get lost while using something that’s too big will take over the space – especially when dealing with shorter ceiling heights.
So it’s important to first find some middle ground with the art we use. I like to use the rule of three-eights to keep things organized and on point. Essentially, this means the white space on either side of a painting should be about 3/8 of the painting width.
Besides choosing the right sized art for low ceilings, it can also be strategic to try the following:
- Hang Pictures & Art Higher Up
- Use Tall, Vertical Art To Create A Taller Aesthetic
5. Keep A Minimal Floor Design
I love simple hacks and minimalism is definitely one of them. It keeps a space feeling light, airy and freshening.
So arranging furniture with a minimalist style is a simple solution to make a room feel more open. Clutter and cramming too much into a small space causes what I like to call “design congestion“.
While you want to ensure your home stays functional, comfortable and livable for your family or lifestyle, keeping things minimal is an easy way to add a little height to rooms lower ceilings.
6. Use Mirrors
I suppose there’s nothing too novel about using mirrors to make a space feel bigger than it really is. It can be rather straightforward to hang them in a way that extends or widens a space.
However, there are some interesting strategies and angles worth trying that will take full advantage of using mirrors as a low ceiling solution.
As you’re likely aware, strategically hanging a mirror on a wall can create more space in a room. But another way to use a mirror is by using a long vertical one, leaned up against a corner wall and slightly angled up.
This can add height to low ceilings and depth to a tight space.
7. Use Sunken Lights & Avoid Protruding Features
Let’s face it, nobody wants a head-knocker coming out of their ceilings. Although this may sound like an extreme example, I can tell you from personal experience with our own century home, there’s are optimal (And sub optimal) places for ceiling fans and beautiful chandeliers.
Of course, a hanging ceiling light above a dining room table is perfectly fine, but protruding lights in other places not only accentuates low ceilings but also is cause for concern for any taller house guests!
Jokes aside, flattening your ceiling by using sunken lights and replacing other protruding features (if your budget allows) can take focus away from a low ceiling.
8. Install Larger Windows
OK so this last hack is definitely more major and requires a larger budget and/or construction expertise. However, it will have one of the biggest impacts as a low ceiling design solution.
Similar to using lighter, brighter colors, letting in more light is always a great way to make your space feel more open and bigger. Even in a 100 year-old house with 8 foot ceilings, adding large bay windows, french doors and other tall window options will completely transform the space.
Don’t believe me? Just have a look at the large bay window we added in our own kitchen! Low ceilings be gone!
You could go one step further and really make a big impact by installing a whole wall of windows to let the light in and make any low ceiling rooms feel and appear taller.
Of course, this is a major renovation project and requires a professional contractor, but it can be a low ceiling solution with a big impact (plus it will just look amazing).
9. Open It Up
An open floor plan and connecting rooms is all the rage nowadays. Of course, it can open up any space in a house – but especially if you’re dealing with low ceilings.
So if you have the technical experience (or budget to hire the work out), taking down walls to extend your living space while connecting rooms can be a great low ceiling design solution.
If you’re not on board with totally opening up your floor design and taking down walls, you could always compromise and just open up your walk through and doorways between rooms.
For example, let’s say you’re dealing with a 3-foot wide opening between rooms, you could consider opening that pass through up to 5 or 6 feet to connect the rooms, make them feel more open and bigger while still keeping them separate.
10. Avoid Bulky Shelves & Cabinets
I’ll be the first one to admit I’ve broken this rule on more than one occasion. I just don’t know why it’s always so hard to say no to free furniture that our relatives no longer have any use for!
But I digress.
Anyways, using a large cabinet or shelf in a tight space can really extenuate any low ceilings. So opting for a minimal, open shelved design that’s lower to the ground could be a much better option.
So while the image above doesn’t necessarily look bad, the concept of less is more applies perfectly here.
You could also consider floor-to-ceiling built-ins, which can add character and minimize the crowded look of a large shelf.
Either way, not using furniture items that are simply too large for a space will keep things feeling open while adding height.
11. Expose The Beams
This suggestion may or may not be suitable, depending on your home and overall design.
For example, if you have a quaint cottage with a lot of wood elements, exposing the beams under the ceiling could be a great way to add some height to low ceilings.
Since floor joists are not exactly beauty beams, cleaning them up nicely with stain or faux beam accents can add purpose and intention to the overall design.
This is definitely a project that requires a little more construction expertise (such as turning off the electrical before pounding into a wall), so be sure to consult with a professional before removing any ceilings and drywall!
12. Remove Crown Molding
This one may seem pretty logical but having extra pieces of trim at the corners of where your walls and ceiling meet will likely make your ceilings feel lower.
Luckily, this is a pretty simple fix that can be done with the claw of a hammer and some elbow grease.
You could either completely remove the crown molding or use minimal, understated trim pieces. Personally, I like to opt for using no crown molding and further adding height to low ceilings with paint colors and other design hacks.
But paying attention to the crown molding and how it may influence the height of a room is a great hack to consider for making lows ceilings feel taller.
13. Raise Door Openings
This is branching off my earlier suggestions for opening up your doorways and connecting your rooms for a more open concept floor design, but is a little less major.
Although you’ll still be doing some minor construction and will need to make sure you’re not removing any supporting beams, adding extra height to a home’s doorways and walkways can have a big influence on a room’s low ceilings.
Taking a doorway framing all the way to the ceiling will give a lot of extra head space and open up hallways while connecting rooms.
14. Choose Furniture With A Low Profile
Similar to the recommendations above on avoiding bulky furniture and big cabinets, cramming large couches, chairs and other furniture into a space that is just too small will make the room feel tight and the ceilings lower.
Another remedy to this (besides decluttering and opting for a minimal floor design) is choosing furniture with a low profile.
And this makes sense. After all, a tall bookcase will extenuate a low ceiling while a low standing item will create more wall space and openness.
The overall effect of choosing lower profile furniture can be huge – especially if combined with other hacks from this list!
15. Paint The Ceilings Strategically
This suggestion actually comes from another blog I came across in my research. While most of the items on this list stem from personal experience, I also want to provide the most comprehensive guide for you.
According to Morris (2012) for Apartment Therapy, some designers suggest using a high gloss paint on your ceilings to make low ceilings appear higher, since it will reflect the light better.
Still, others suggest painting the ceilings the same color as the walls or carrying the ceiling color onto the walls for a few inches, sort of like a painted crown molding trim job.
16. Make A Vertical Feature Wall
What else can I say, I’m slightly obsessed with feature walls. And this design trick can also be a great trick as a low ceiling solution.
This hack again highlights how vertical features and design can make your ceilings feel taller. Plus, having a well crafted feature wall will take attention away from low ceilings and shift focus towards a unique design element in a room.
So besides the fact that feature walls just look good, doing it strategically to make a space appear taller is a fantastic design choice and a big-impact solution to low ceilings.
17. Pay Attention To The Floors
Floors are often overlooked when considering ways to make a space feel more open and low ceilings taller. But it may be a surprise to know that certain elements of a floor’s design can influence a how big or small a space feels.
Consider a longer, rectangular room (such as 12′ x 30′). Here, a floor design that ran longways would make the space feel even longer while flooring that cut across sideways could widen the space.
So how does this relate to low ceilings? Well it’s all about balance for starters.
Besides choosing a floor color that keeps things open, laying floor in a way that open up the floor and does not extenuate any existing lengths or widths can impact the overall tightness or openness of a room.
Now of if you already have a floor (and don’t want to replace them, which is of course expensive), you can opt for simpler solutions such as restaining the floors or removing rugs that make low ceilings feel even lower.
Recommended Read: Flooring Tricks To Make Your Room Look Larger
18. Vault The Ceilings
So this essentially resolves any low ceiling issues. As such, it’s one of the most construction-intensive project to carry out.
Still, it can have a huge impact and depending on your budget and existing build, this solution will completely transform an otherwise cramped, tight space.
For out situation, this hack could really only work on the second floor since it’s a 2-story home. But it’s one of my favorite renovations due to its big impact and overall aesthetic.
This post has explored some useful hacks and low ceiling design solutions. While somemm may require a higher budget and professional expertise, many of the tips in this article can be done quite easily and cheaply.
As designs, trends and technologies continue to develop, I’ll keep this post updated and current with the latest recommendations.
So thanks for stopping by today – I hope you found some value!
Let me know in the comments of any other design tricks you’ve tried! Which of the hacks above do you think will have the biggest impact?