What to Do with Low Ceilings—Design Ideas to Increase Space

Dealing with low ceilings is one of the trickiest design challenges to tackle. Without enough vertical space, it’s easy for basements, kitchens, and other rooms to feel cramped and stifling, but the right design strategy will open up and transform even the tiniest room. These low ceiling ideas and tips will help you make the most of your space:

Consider an exposed ceiling

Can you raise a ceiling that’s too low? Depending on your home, you may be able to physically add space to your room by getting rid of the drywall on your ceiling and exposing its bare structure.

This option is a win-win if you’re a fan of the exposed-beam look, but before you start tearing out drywall, you should know that not all homes have gorgeous rustic beams waiting to be uncovered. Achieving the desired exposed ceiling aesthetic often requires a bit more renovation in modern homes.

Color matters: lighter hues lift your ceiling

Many designers recommend you paint your ceiling lighter than your walls. Whites and off-whites are popular ceiling color choices for a good reason.

Other people suggest painting the ceiling the same color as the walls to blur the line of where your walls meet your ceiling. This is a slightly riskier option, because all other design elements have to be on point for it to work. When you do it right, though, it looks amazing.

A third option is to compromise — let your ceiling be lighter than your walls, but only slightly. Light colored walls that are only slightly darker than the ceiling help open up the room even more.

Avoid hanging lights (at least in high traffic areas)

This one’s a no brainer — if you have low ceilings, you don’t want low-hanging pendant lighting getting in your way. Instead, only install hanging lights in places where you’ll never hit your head on them, such as directly over countertops and tables.

For the rest of the room, recessed lighting is a great option, as are wall-mounted light fixtures (especially vertically shaped ones). Also consider placing some sleek, tall lamps to brighten up nooks and crannies while also creating more vertical lines in the room.

Don’t forget about the power of natural light either. Not only does more light make your room feel brighter and bigger, but having lots of glass windows and doors will also give the impression that your space expands to the outside, which makes it feel wider horizontally, even if the ceilings are low.

Choose your decor wisely

The right decor can help draw the eye up and visually elongate the room. Here are some ideas:

  • Low furniture, especially chairs, couches, and tables
  • Tall bookshelves
  • Vertical art placed higher on the walls
  • Long, floor-to-ceiling curtains
  • Mirrors, especially tall ones
  • Lanky houseplants

Are you hoping to add a little extra pizzazz to a grim, low-ceilinged room? Think about creating an eye-catching feature wall. It’s a great way to draw attention away from the height of your ceiling, plus it’s really fun to design.

Another tip: In the kitchen, choose cabinets and shelves that reach all the way up to the ceiling. When space is limited by low ceilings, you don’t want to waste that precious space.

Full-height doors elongate the room

Just like floor-to-ceiling curtains make your room look taller, full-height doors do the same thing. Ask your contractor if it’s possible to bring doors and passageways all the way up to the ceiling or as close as possible.

Go for a cozy vibe

Fighting your room’s natural shape isn’t always the best strategy. Here’s a different idea: instead of trying to make the ceiling appear higher, you could embrace the small space you have and create a cozy little hideaway. This is a situation where darker walls and ceilings can work to your advantage.

This approach is often great for bedroom and basement ceiling options — it works less well with kitchens and living rooms.

Planning a remodel?

The designers at Creekstone Designs are experts at finding creative ways to open up cramped spaces, including ones with low ceilings. We handle all aspects of the remodeling process, from the initial design, to construction and cleanup. If you’re thinking of updating your home and you’d like to learn more about how we work, call us at (503) 405-9771 or get in touch online.