13 Ways to Make a Ceiling Look Higher

If your home has ceilings that are inherently low (such as in a basement), or if your ceilings are of average height but you might want them to look taller, you might have been looking into ways to give the appearance of height.

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There are as many different ways help with this allusion as there are different low-ceiling’d spaces. Sometimes, the strategies are completely opposite, which can be frustrating. But if you read on, keeping your own space in mind, we think you’ll be able to figure out a few tips that will work for you.


1. Uncover the ceiling’s architectural skeleton.

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Particularly if you’re a fan of industrial style, or if exposed pipes and ductwork make your heart flutter, a “raw” ceiling will not only enhance that look, but it will also probably give you more headroom physically.

2. Use recessed (canned) lighting.

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Anything that sticks out from an already low ceiling, such as some ceiling lights, will make the entire ceiling feel lower and, consequently, the room smaller. Those are precious inches lost. Instead, install recessed lights that take up space within the ceiling itself. Or you could forget about ceiling lights and opt for wall lighting instead.

3. Remove crown molding (or keep it very thin).

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Proportion is key here. Molding and trim has the appearance of protruding down from the ceiling; when a ceiling is low to begin with, this is not beneficiary. You could also paint the molding the same color as the ceiling, giving the allusion of additional height.


4. Paint the ceiling white.

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This is often the default choice for ceilings, and for good reason – white in décor lifts and lightens. On a ceiling, this visually raises the height of the ceiling itself. If you don’t want to go with pure white, it’s recommended that you at least choose a color that is lighter than your walls.

5. Paint the ceiling color down onto the walls.

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This façade is a great way to change one’s perception of the ceiling boundaries and immediately adds several inches psychologically.

6. Use a high-gloss finish for the ceiling.

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The reflection of light and objects themselves will heighten and brighten the entire room. Or, if you’re very dramatic and choose mirror-type glossiness for the ceiling, your entire room will seem to never end, reflecting the entire space on top of itself.

7. Use a matte finish on the ceiling.

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Another school of thought is that a matte finish is best for making a ceiling “disappear,” hiding flaws and faults of the ceiling itself while simultaneously putting the emphasis on the room itself.

8. Paint vertical stripes on the walls.

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Anything that draws the eye upward, which is what vertical stripes do inherently, will make a ceiling feel taller and an entire space feel bigger. The bigger the contrast between the stripes, the more dramatic this effect will be.


9. Choose low furniture.

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When the horizontal lines of your seating furniture are lower than average, it tricks the eye into thinking the rest of the room is taller than it actually is. One bonus of this strategy is that it maximizes any great window views as well, because furniture isn’t blocking the glass.

10. Display items vertically.

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Whether in a floor-to-ceiling bookcase or as framed items on the wall, choosing to create some sort of visual display with vertical lines will help your room feel taller, as it draws the eye upward.

11. Raise the hanging of window treatments.

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When we see curtains, our eyes automatically equate their size and position with the window itself. By hanging your window treatments just below the ceiling (which might be a foot or two higher than where the top of the window is), you draw the eye upward and fool the brain into thinking the window is bigger than it actually is. This is a great way to heighten and brighten.

12. Opt out of window treatments.

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Revealing as much of your windows (and, therefore, letting in as much natural light) as possible will ultimately make the entire room feel brighter and bigger…similar to the spacious feeling that vaulted ceilings evoke even when square footage isn’t more. Windows expand the look of any space, so omitting the curtains or drapes all together will increase the feeling of spaciousness.

13. Use mirrors.

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Again, as you go about styling your space, you want to incorporate items that are themselves or that reflect light. Mirrors are ideal for increasing not only light but also perceived square footage. Hang them on the wall, or lean them up against the wall for maximum effect.