The second home my husband and I purchased 8 years ago was a 1950's yellow brick with a 1980's extension. Typical of the 80's era, the back half of our house had ceilings considerably lower than the front half (much to my amateur-design amazement!). Eight years on I have realised that this is not as uncommon as it might sound.
When we renovated a few years ago our ceiling height difference became quite evident. Until then our house was quite 'boxey' and in no way open plan, so it wasn't as obvious that the ceiling dropped as you walked from the kitchen to the lounge. Wanting to open our house up more meant the wall between the two areas had to go leaving us with a dropped ceiling. Short of raising the roof (which believe me, I did look into!) there isn't a lot you can do. This meant I had to look into ideas to trick the eye to give the impression the roof is higher. I thought I'd share 7 of my tips with you -
1 - WHITE CEILING
White paint reflects the light so by painting your ceiling white it won't attract your attention and will appear to make the ceiling higher.
2 - VERTICAL PATTERNS
If you would like a bit of texture or interest to your walls choose a vertical pattern. Stripes are the obvious choice but ensure they are installed/painted vertically not horizontally. The same principle can be applied in the bedroom. To raise the roof use bedding that has vertical stripes as they will appear to lengthen the walls. If you use horizontal stripes they will widen the room and make the roof look lower.
3 - ONE COLOUR
If you would prefer not to paint stripes or use wallpaper, paint the walls and ceiling the same colour. This ensures there is no distinct line where the ceiling starts and the wall ends giving a sense of height. Do not paint panelling or chair rails a different colour to the walls as this will also make the ceiling look lower. Choose cooler whites rather than warm ones as they are on-trend at the moment and also reflect the light rather than absorb it.
4 - NON-PROTRUDING LIGHTING & SKYLIGHTS
One aspect I struggled with was knowing I was not going to be able to use any hanging pendants or feature lights in the back half of my house. The ceiling will feel even lower if it has items hanging from it. Select flat mounted lights or recessed/down lights (halogens / LEDs etc). If you would like feature lights select interesting wall sconces, table lamps or floor lamps. They will distract the eye from the ceiling height and obviously provide more lighting. Unfortunately lower ceilings also usually mean darker rooms so consider installing skylights.
5 - WINDOW FURNISHINGS
Curtains are a great way to give a sense of height to a room. Using full-length curtains, often taller than the window can give the impression the window is larger than it is therefore making the ceiling feel higher.
6 - MIRRORS AND ARTWORK
Although as a rule artwork should be placed at eye level, design has to work with the framework it's given. By raising the height of artwork slightly it will draw the eye up giving the impression of height. Mirrors tend to have the same affect and can also be used on opposite walls to windows to not only 'bring the outside in' but also bring more light indoors.
7 - FURNITURE
Select lower, less bulky pieces of furniture and not too many. When choosing a sofa select one with taller legs rather than one that sits lower to the ground. The gap beneath the floor and the bottom of the couch will give a sense of space. The more cluttered, the smaller the room will feel.
Have you found any great tricks for low ceilings?