Copyright: Sharon McCormick. Photo by Olson Photographic, LLC.
High ceilings add drama, elegance and opulence that few other architectural features can match. But while the beauty of a two-story, vaulted or coffered ceiling is unquestionable, creating a space beneath them that is comfortable and welcoming can be a challenge. When managed with skillful decorating and proper planning, however, a room with a soaring ceiling can be a joy to look at and live in.
Color and Texture While ceilings are traditionally left white, using a different color on a high ceiling can make a huge difference in the feel of your room.
"Painting high ceilings white makes the room feel like you're entering an auditorium, which lacks cohesiveness and feels uninviting," says Los Angeles-based interior designer Justine Blanda-Wengrod. "Warm, rich, deeper colors will bring the ceiling down visually and create a welcoming cheerfulness to guests."
The importance of good color choices for all the surfaces in your room can't be overstated, adds designer Sharon McCormick, national spokesperson for the American Society of Interior Designers and Principal of Sharon McCormick Designs. She recommends painting the ceiling the same color as the walls to create a calm, inviting space. "This takes the emphasis away from the volume of the space and makes the room feel like a cohesive whole," she says.
Consider using other wall elements to accentuate this architectural detail and create more intimacy in the room. "Using texture, pattern or color on the ceiling plane is a great way to add to your space," says Minneapolis designer Lisa Peck of Pisa Designs. It will bring the ceiling down to a more human scale visually."
Windows and Wall Coverings If your high ceiling is accompanied by a wall with windows, choosing the right coverings and using them in the most attractive way is essential. Designer Bernadette Peters of Newark, N.J.–based Style For Life Interiors says window coverings in high-ceiling rooms serve two purposes. "Floor to close to ceiling drapery panels will soften and warm the feel of the space, and sound will be absorbed by the long panels," she says.
Even if your windows don't go all the way to the ceiling, hanging your draperies high is a good design decision. "In such an expansive space, the room will look and feel more balanced," says Blanda-Wengrod.