How to make a low ceiling look taller than it is?

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Our living room is small and dark and does not have vaulted ceilings. The only window is the front one which only has light shining through in the morning. Walls are a tan color. Accent wall over stairs is a maroon color. What can I do to make the room seem larger and brighter, without having to knock out the ceiling?

  9 answers
  • Polly Fuller Polly Fuller on Jul 18, 2017
    paint it all off white. put a faux recessed area on the ceiling. easy with good painters tape to help you.
  • Debra Debra on Jul 18, 2017
    Painting the room brighter, lighter colors will help some.
  • Debbora U Debbora U on Jul 18, 2017
    Our living room is the same. On the back wall, perhaps hang a long, wide mirror
    to reflect the window light. I suggest that the maroon color is not the best, as it
    would absorb light. Research I have done suggests that yellow is a great color for a north facing room (ours is NE). Perhaps paint your accent wall yellow, then add some yellow and tan accents to carry the color throughout. Best luck :)
  • Elaine Elaine on Jul 18, 2017
    If you have drapes/curtains at the window, make sure they are as long (or tall) as possible with the rod as close to the ceiling as possible, as well. Even though I like your paint color, I would probably repaint with a color just slightly darker than the ceiling to reduce the contrast between the color of the wall and the ceiling color. This, in turn, confuses the eye a bit and makes it harder to tell where the wall actually meets the ceiling. It's all an illusion!

    If you have a set of two prints hung together, and they are hung side by side - change that so that one is above the other as that creates a vertical (taller) line. Make sure you have no fussy valance or anything at the window as that reduces the height (and light!!) in a room.

    Also, make sure your rod is hung wider than the actual window frame so it lets in light and makes the room (and window) look larger.

    I'm not sure what you mean by "accent wall OVER the stairs". Do you mean there's an accent wall at one END of the stairs. I would have any adjacent walls the same basic coloring as the living room. By "basic", I mean that it doesn't have to be the very same as the living room color but still be close enough in tint that the rooms flow and coordinate.

    Add a few lighter items in the room such as cream colored cushions and throw if it goes with your color scheme, reduce clutter and if you like plants, it is much nicer to have one large plant than a bunch of small to medium sized ones. There's lots of tricks to creating a nicer room!
  • Ras25497888 Ras25497888 on Jul 18, 2017
    Mirrors! They make a room appear larger and reflect light. The maroon wall could be hung with mirrors of different sizes with frames the same color.
  • Molly Anmar Molly Anmar on Jul 18, 2017
    Ceiling color: Paint your ceiling a color lighter than the walls, preferably white. Some believe high-gloss paint is best because it reflects light and makes the ceiling look somehow less fixed and static, while others say a matte finish will help the ceiling to blend in more. Some designers suggest you paint the wall beyond the top of the wall. In other words, paint the first two or three inches of ceiling around the perimeter the same color as the walls to give the illusion of taller, higher walls (really easy with painter's tape_).

    Crown Molding and Trim: Some say crown molding and trim at the top of the walls should be painted in the same color as the walls so as not to draw attention upward, which would highlight the low ceiling height.

    High Art: Hang artwork slightly higher than you normally would. Hanging small frames above door openings and windows also tricks the eye into thinking the room has higher ceilings.

    Decorative paneling: from Better Homes & Gardens: You can make the ceiling look higher by covering the lower two-thirds of walls with beadboard or decorative paneling. Then paint the ceiling the same color as the upper walls. In rooms with a chair-rail, consider painting both the upper part of the walls and the ceiling the same light color, with a darker color below the chair rail.

    Tall floral arrangements: I came across this helpful advice on Shelterpop, where Brian Patrick Flynn of HGTV's Design Happens recommends setting out a tall urn or vase filled with seasonal grasses or blossoming branches because it slows down the eye's movement as it moves gradually upward.

    Avoid overhead lights: Skip fans and ceiling or overhead lights because they draw attention to the ceiling. If you do hang a chandelier or pendant, hang it slightly higher than you normally would.

    Raised door openings: Mrs Howard, Personal Shopper has this nifty recommendation, which only applies if you are willing to make some structural changes (say, if you have just bought a home with low ceilings or are renovating a room): She says you should raise the interior door openings all the way up to the ceiling-or close to it.

    Vertical stripes and patterns: Taking a cue from fashion, it is best to use vertical stripes instead of horizontal stripes, because vertical stripes create the illusion of height. And this rule doesn't only apply to paint and wallpaper: A four-poster bed with tall, skinny posts can also draw the eye upward.

    Floor-to-ceiling curtains: Hang window treatments as high as possible. Floor-to-ceiling curtains elongate a room.

    Low-profile furniture: Use lower profile furniture with fewer horizontal elements (arm rests, for example) to emphasize the distance between the furniture and the ceiling.
  • Josh Bullington Josh Bullington on Jul 18, 2017
    If you paint the ceiling one or two shades lighter of the same color as the walls it will give the illusion of taller walls. I did this in my old house with a light green on the walls and a lighter green and on the ceiling and it looked great. Just go to your paint store and pick different shades off the same color strip.

  • Sch22545662 Sch22545662 on Jul 18, 2017
    Thanks for all the suggestions. I'm putting new paint on my list of items to do, as well as getting rid of some clutter.
  • Gma Kirk Gma Kirk on Jul 18, 2017
    Lighter colors and ceiling same color as the walls. Use satin to reflect more light.