High Ceilings Effect: Get The Effects Without The Ceiling

Reading Time: 2 minutes

stylish ceiling kitchen

High ceilings are sought-after for their effects on design elements like space, line, atmosphere. Here’s how to  get those effects without the ceilings.


Low ceilings can undercut your plans to create an open and inviting space. The feeling of having limited space can cramp your interior design style when it comes to how space is perceived, and even how line and color are processed by human senses.

Thankfully, the root of all of this is perception. Within that, you’ve got many design options that will help you create the illusion of a high ceiling and will make your room look great in the process.

Utilize your lighting

A light in the center of a low ceiling isn’t going to do your room any favors. What you want to do is ensure that your lighting points up to get rid of shadows in the wrong places. The first way you do this is make your lighting flush with the wall, which eliminates shadows above and creates the illusion that your ceiling is lighter.

Tall lamps that point upward are also great for low ceilings. Floor lamps create light that opens the room, which is preferable to table lamps with shades which cast small circles of light and emphasize the shadows everywhere else.

Paint your ceiling

Use glossy paint, and paint your ceiling a lighter color than your walls (which you should also keep light.) You can use a high gloss paint, which will almost have a mirror effect, or you can use semigloss, which will amplify light but won’t be quite as dramatic. The point is to create the illusion that there’s more space up there, and a little reflection goes a long way.

low ceiling bedroom

Decorate vertically

Your curtains go a long way to creating the illusion of a higher ceiling. Hang them high over your window–up to the ceiling, if you feel like it. Make sure they hang long, too. If they’ve got a pattern, especially near the top, that will add to the illusion. If the room is also rather small, stick with light colors.

Hang your pictures vertically instead of horizontally. Get frames that are all the same, and create a few vertical stripes of pictures. You can do the same with prints. Or, if you’re an art fan, get a few pieces that are long and thin and match your room’s decor.

kids bedroom attic low ceiling

Paint, paper, and panel in stripes

Use vertical stripes to draw the eye up. Paint a striped accent wall, use a vertically striped wallpaper (especially if you have wainscoting breaking your wall into two portions,) or use delicate wood paneling. The trick with paneling is to create a vertical texture all the way up and down the wall, rather than to cover a wall in a wood pattern.

Go with low furniture

Other than your floor lamps, keep your furniture low, especially for larger pieces. The back of a couch or a chair can be really distracting, and minimizes the perceived distance between the ceiling and the floor. If everything is low, however, that creates a lot of space in the upper part of your room and helps the room feel more open.

When designing for a room with low ceilings, the bottom line is to create the illusion of space. If something is making your room feel cramped, swap it for a new idea using one of these tricks.







1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

Cate Morgan-Harlow

Cate Morgan-Harlow is an all arounder, writing about how-to, DIY, and design with gusto. She is a shadowy figure with a mysterious past.