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Solving the low ceiling conundrum

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Scandinavian style living room by lifelife GmbH Scandinavian
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A low ceiling has long been considered an annoyance by homeowners as it limits what lighting you can use and can make a home feel squat and even claustrophobic. This needn't be the case, however, as with a little careful planning and clever design, you can not only make the most of a low ceiling, you can turn it into a coveted feature in its own right.

We have compiled some top tips for working with a low ceiling, so take a look and see if you think any could work in your home.

Emphasise vertical elements

When you have a low ceiling, you should always seek to avoid drawing attention to the width of the room and instead focus on inclusions which are long and lean and, most importantly, vertical! 

In this picture, from Partner Design, our eyes are drawn not just to the fabulous furniture in the centre, but also the long curtains and door frame. This is because they have been finished in bright white, which naturally attracts our attention and makes us notice the long lines that they are producing. Though the room has a low ceiling, that is not what we notice here at all, thanks to clever use of proportion and shapes.

Opt for recessed lighting

Apartments in Nothing Hill, London Modern living room by Pergo Modern

Apartments in Nothing Hill, London


If you don't have much height to work with, the last thing you should be considering is a hanging light! This will only seek to emphasis just how much of a low ceiling you have and will become a focal point, even if you don't want it to.

We suggest you choose beautiful recessed lighting, which is easy to install, comes at a reasonable cost and helps to make the most of all your available space. By keeping the ceiling clear of intrusive elements, you create the illusion of height, especially when your LED bulbs are shining brightly on the surface!

Get your curtain length right

There are two lengths of curtain that work well with a low ceiling and that is full (from the ceiling down to the floor) and almost full (from the ceiling to approximately two inches from the floor). Anything else will simply emphasise the squat nature of your room height.

Here we can see an almost full length set of bedroom curtains working wonders in a small space, as by exposing a small amount of wall below the hem, we naturally assume that the room was slightly too tall for the material, thus making us believe the ceiling to be higher. A clever technique, it is amplified by opting for a dark and contrasting colour to really show off the shortfall of material!

Select squat furniture

'Iris' glass coffee table by La Primavera: modern  by My Italian Living, Modern
My Italian Living

'Iris' glass coffee table by La Primavera

My Italian Living

Horizontal lines are a good friend to a low ceiling, as they give the impression of vastness above them. With this in mind, low sofas, rectangular coffee tables and other small additions all work well to create a feeling of space up above, while the furniture stays down low.

You will need to be careful with how you decorate your furniture however, as tall vases, such as the one seen here, could impact on the perceived height, if finished in an opaque material, but glass simply melts into the background and allows the illusion to remain intact.

Think about your pictures

When hanging pictures on your wall, you must take a low ceiling into account or you could end up simply emphasising it! Placement is everything.

We suggest that you either use the height of your sofa as a guide, placing your pictures just above it, or go bold and mount your artwork as high up on the wall as you dare! Either way, don't be fooled into thinking that a central vantage point will be best, as it will simply cut the room in half and make it feel even shorter! Always aim to be stretching up to make the ceiling feel unobtainable!

Pick your wall colour carefully

It should go without saying that when you have a low ceiling, you need to give a lot of thought to the colours you use on your walls, but you'd be surprised how many people still opt for something super dark and contrasting to the ceiling itself!

To create an illusion of height, you really need to embrace neutral colour palettes and try to blend the ceiling and walls together. If you can, use the same colour, as what you will end up with is an illusion of a bigger space that feels bright and airy.

For more ceiling inspiration, take a look at this Ideabook: 6 Unique Ceiling Ideas.

Have you picked up some useful tips for your low ceilings?  Let us know in the comments, below.
Whitton Drive by GK Architects Ltd Modern

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