Creating an Illusion of Height

Most new houses feature relatively low ceilings, which can make even a fairly large room feel almost claustrophobic. There are, however, several ways to create an illusion of height, and subsequently remove that uncomfortable sense of ‘the ceiling falling onto your head’.  Here are the ten top tips on how to achieve a sense of height.

Using white/ light coloured Paint – Painting low ceilings white or in very light colours – such as, for instance, eicó Alterior Matt ‘Snowdrop’ or ‘Creme Anglaise’ – will serve to reflect lots of light, and in the process create a sense of expansiveness and increased height. Expert opinions as to whether matte or gloss finishes work best are divided. Gloss finishes do reflect more light, but matte finishes tend to make a ceiling ‘disappear into the distance’ – complete with all its faults. Slightly shimmering finishes like the eicó Alcro Metallic ‘Pearl’ will draw eyes upward and make the ceiling a bright focal point, while still giving a sense of height.

Painting in Monotones – Painting rooms in monotones will also give the appearance of a higher ceiling. Naturally, the lightest shade of a colour series should be used for the ceiling.

Faux Finishes‘ – Using a ‘bagging’ or ‘sponging’ technique, the room is painted in two colours. Naturally the darker shade is used close to the bottom of the wall, gradually moving more and more into the lighter shade close to the ceiling. This will create an effect of more space at the top.

Using vertical Patterns – Introducing vertical patterns into a room will also create height. The effect can be achieved with the help of vertical stripes painted onto the wall, vertically striped wallpaper, drapes (especially those made from fabrics with vertical stripes/ patterns), narrow, tall book-cases and cabinets or randomly placed narrow chairs.

Avoiding horizontal Patterns – Horizontal patterns that are prone to ‘cut a room in half’ should be avoided at all cost, as they will bring the ceiling even further down. Wallpaper borders in particular have this effect, and if it is really necessary to use crown mouldings, they should be no more than 2 to 3 in (5 to 7.5 cm) in thickness.

Pictures/ Artwork – Pictures/ works of art and shelving should also not be arranged in straight lines, as they, too, will serve to diminish height. Ideally, anything attached to walls should be slim, tall, featuring vertical lines and positioned at varying heights. It also helps to place them fairly high up on the walls, as this will draw the eyes upward and create an impression of height.

Ceiling Features – Anything that hangs down or juts out from the ceiling should also be avoided. Chandeliers in particular will scream ‘lack of height’ and visually cut rooms into halves.

Lighting – For rooms with low ceilings, it is best to have semi-flush or flush light fittings, or – even better- recessed or wall lighting. Up-lighting with the help of wall or tall, slim standard lamps will cast more light onto the ceiling and thus create the illusion of height.

Using Mirrors – Large, slender mirrors will not only create a sense of height, they will serve to generate an overall illusion of more space. This is particularly effective in relatively small rooms with low ceilings.

Drawing Attention away from the Ceiling – Colourful rugs, low tables and low-slung seating will draw attention to the lower half of the room and away from the ceiling.

10 top tips on how to achieve a sense of height


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