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How to Properly Decorate Spaces With High Ceilings

loft kitchen

The classic loft apartment, the cavernous high-ceilinged living room — there’s a reason these spaces are huge draws for residents. High ceilings add drama and airiness, letting even a home with less square footage feel more open by taking advantage of vertical space.

Of course, it’s important to know where to start so your decoration plans don’t get lost in all this wall space. Decorating with a high ceiling can have its challenges, so follow these design tips.

1. Take Advantage of All the Space

With a higher ceiling, naturally, there’s more open space. So, hang artwork and other decorative items higher up in order to create a better visual effect. 

One way to accomplish this is to create a gallery wall that runs the entire height of one wall. There are many items you can display, such as ceramic plates or mirrors. Your gallery wall doesn’t have to be completely orderly, and that fun, scattered look will help you fill vertical space without having to spend hundreds of dollars on new pieces.

Not a fan of maximalist gallery walls? You can also keep it streamlined and hang a larger art piece to make a statement. Having large, higher-up artwork can draw the eye upward and engage visitors.

2. Hang Window Treatments at Ceiling Height

Hanging your drapes too low creates a division in the wall, making the upper area feel bare. Adding taller curtains can make the space feel even larger. This will require plenty of fabric — but can create a dramatic and modern effect.

Try to select a solid color so the visual effect is less overwhelming for guests. When choosing curtains, you should also consider the best type of fabric. If the goal is to let in as much sunlight as possible, then sheer or cotton fabric works well. If the goal is privacy in twilight hours, then a thicker drape will help.

3. Use Bigger Furniture

Tall ceilings make a room spacious, but in turn, that means you need to make sure your furniture is proportionate to the size of the room. This will help the space feel less visually bare. A great sectional, bulky armchair and towering bookcase can all help you furnish without looking sparse.

This is especially important for industrial lofts and modern design approaches. While you don’t want maximalist design here, you do want your essential pieces to be functional, solid and well-situated. From there, a couple of color pops with a large rug and/or throw pillows will do the trick.

4. Add Architectural Details

Details like exposed beams, beadboard, or crown molding can help add visual appeal to a minimal space. These are unique architectural features that can make the room stand out. 

In addition, they add a sense of depth to high ceilings. If the room already has any of these details, highlight them with fresh paint or fancy window treatments.

 Industrial loft interior

5. Add a Statement Light Fixture

Not sure what to do with the airy ceiling space? A large light fixture, such as a chandelier, is an excellent way to connect the upper and lower portions of the room. 

Try to hang it in the center of the room or over a coffee table. Look for a larger piece, but one that isn’t too heavy —a heavier chandelier can put tension on the ceiling and may create the need for additional work.

While you’re at it, remember that artificially lighting a room with high ceilings can be challenging.  Find ways to incorporate plenty of natural light by keeping windows exposed. Think about also including secondary lighting sources, like lamps and sconces, at varying heights.

6. Design a Feature Wall

An accent wall gives the room a unique look and creates a stunning focal point. Use a fresh coat of paint for a cost-effective option. For those with a fireplace, extend it upward with extra tile or brick.

A wood pallet wall is a fun design idea for a more rustic look. Another common option is decorative wallpaper – just consider hiring a professional for installation. With the high ceiling, this may not be a do-it-yourself project.

7. Think Outside the Box for Shelving

Storage space is essential for a modern home. Having a tall ceiling allows for plenty of this. Yet, it’s fun to come up with unique storage solutions. You can add an entire wall of shelving through bookcases. It’s perfect for avid readers or people who like to display trinkets or souvenirs.

Another option is adding a few floating shelves to different spots on the wall. Consider having them at varying heights to create a more visually appealing design.

8. Consider Dark Colored Paint

Painting with dark colors can disrupt the scale and proportion of the room. It allows everything else, like furniture and decorative items, to pop. It can also create a moody or sophisticated appearance. Dark colors can work well in high-traffic areas of the home, like the living room.

Here are some dark-toned hues to consider:

  • Gray
  • Black
  • Green
  • Navy
  • Brown

9. Hang a Large-Scale Mirror

This can be a cost-effective way to add more dimension to the space. It also helps bring in natural light and is an excellent focal point. It can even make the room feel larger.

Place the mirror over the fireplace or bookcase. Then, people can easily do one more quick hair check on the way out to work. To make the space more unique, consider fun-shaped frames, such as triangles or circles.

10. Add a Large Rug

A large rug can create a bold look to complement the high ceilings. They help ground your space and minimize the scale of the ceiling so it looks lower and cozier. 

Consider going for a rug with a bold pattern to enhance the visual effect. For some extra comfort, you can layer two rugs. Add tall plants and a coffee table on top of the carpet to complete the look.

Tips for Decorating Spaces With High Ceilings

A high ceiling can make a room more spacious and unique. However, finding ways to fill the space can create design challenges. Follow these tips to create a beautiful home that takes full advantage of your high ceilings without looking visually sparse.


Author: Evelyn Long is the editor-in-chief of Renovated. Her work focuses on interior and architectural design and has been published by Build Magazine, the National Association of REALTORS and other online publications.