More visual height is no stretch when you pick the right furniture, paint and lighting –

A lot of people dream of having high ceilings in their home. But consider this: Rooms with high ceilings are a pain to heat and to circulate air through; they also create challenges for sound and light control and often double the expense of painting, covering windows and adding artwork. Low and moderately high ceilings can be warmer, more intimate and more in proportion with human scale. Not to mention that changing a light bulb is as simple as pulling out a step stool. Try that with a vaulted ceiling. 

Make Your Ceiling Look Higher

Frank Lloyd Wright often incorporated low ceilings in his Prairie-style homes. To compensate, he often made the rooms extra wide and deeply connected to the outdoor spaces. Using these concepts, and with the right furnishings and decor, you can make any ceiling feel just a bit taller.
contemporary living room by Domb architects, white couches surrounding black round coffee table.

Choose Low, Horizontal Furniture

Keep everything hunkered down low. If you are fortunate enough to have a spectacular view like this, it will amplify the effect dramatically. If you don’t have a great view, low furniture will still maximize the perceived height of your room.

Keep Window Coverings Simple

Notice how connected this space feels to the garden? Seeing the voluminous outdoor space makes this low-slung living room feel equally spacious. This trick works especially well if you’re right at ground level.
modern kitchen by Resolution: 4 Architecture Open kitchen concept, wood grain island with barstools

Keep Lighting Flush

In a contemporary home with a modest ceiling height, use flush-mounted lighting to keep the look clean. This approach will create the appearance of more headroom.
contemporary home office by FORMA Design, brown office desk with brown chair, colorful rug, colorful wall art

Include uplighting

Notice how the ceiling seems to float in this photo. Bouncing light off the ceiling creates visual height. Sconces, cove lighting and even affordable torchieres can deliver this effect. This is a great technique for basements.
Black & White striped wallpaper, guest bathroom with white fixtures

Stripes and Patterns

Everyone knows that vertical stripes can be very slimming and give the illusion of height. The effective use of stripes in this narrow bathroom makes it look even taller.
traditional bedroom by Carolyn Woods Design, white chaise lounge in white room, white/black drapes
Patterned drapes are also a great choice. They lead the eye up to give a feeling of increased height. What makes this strategy effective here is the absence of competing patterns. While you’re at it, keep crown molding proportional.
Don’t go for a deep profile, which would shorten the wall expanse.
contemporary kids by Artistic Designs for Living, Tineke Triggs, white nursery with orange drapes, brown armchair
A detail at the top of drapes also delivers the same effect.
modern entry by Griffin Enright Architects, white shelf with green decorative vases

Vertical Displays

This grouping has an uplifting effect. By taking even just a few pieces all the way to the ceiling, you can increase the appearance of height.
beach style bedroom by Carter Design Group, Inc. white wall wth seashell wall art, white dresser with white lamp
Even a grouping of small frames arranged vertically will lead the eye upward and create more visual headroom.
modern living room by High Tech Ceiling, white furniture with glass coffee table
contemporary living room by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design colorful sectional couch with wood grain coffee table

Introduce a diagonal

Have you ever noticed how a staircase railing invites your eye to wander upward, giving lift to a room? A painted diagonal or a decor element that creates a diagonal line will offer the same effect.
beach style entry by Regan Baker Design Tan entryway, wood flooring, wood end table

Run paneling vertically

Like stripes, vertically oriented paneling reinforces height in a space.

High Gloss Ceilings

This creates an illusion of endlessness. If a ceiling like the one here is too dramatic for your tastes, use a semigloss paint instead.
contemporary living room by Lisa Petrole Photography White sectional couch with gray throw blankets, wood flooring, gray painted walls

Expose your structure

If it will give you more headroom, think about taking your ceiling to its bare bones. Basement renovations are great candidates for exposed structures. Some main-floor spaces in older homes have floating ceilings left over from a day when lower ceilings were desired. Remove these and your room will instantly feel taller.
Do you long for higher ceilings?