Low Ceilings: 10 Easy Ways To Make A Low Ceiling Look Higher

A room with 8 foot ceilings can feel a little claustrophobic. These easy ways to make a low ceiling look higher will show you how to get rid of that closed in feeling without spending a lot of money.

10 Easy Ways To Make A Low Ceiling Look Higher

I have to admit that in some of the rooms in my current house, low ceilings are not that much of an issue (for the first time in my life!)

I have cathedral ceilings in the living room, master bedroom and guest bedroom…one of the reasons that I bought this house.

However, the rest of the rooms have regular 8 foot ceilings. And it seems to me that having a few rooms with taller ceilings makes those 8 foot ones look even lower!

To get around that, I have found some easy ways to make a low ceiling look higher…and thought I would pass them on in case they might help any of you…

A Note About Pinning

Before we start…a note on pinning: Some of these images are from houzz.com and cannot be pinned due to their copyright restrictions. You are welcome to pin any of the others.

1 | Hang Floor to Ceiling Curtains

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Bedroom with floor to ceiling curtains

Installing your drapes so that they go from the ceiling to the floor leads your eye upwards, which makes your brain think that the ceiling is higher.

When your curtains stop right above the window, the visual flow is broken which makes the ceiling seem lower.

If your drapes aren’t long enough to reach all the way to the ceiling, add a band of fabric to the bottom of them to make them longer (like my mother did for the curtains in my master bedroom).

Living room with curtains up to the ceiling

Longer draperies also gives the illusion of taller windows.

So to be honest, I always install my curtains this way (even in rooms with tall ceilings). I just think they look better in most situations.

2 | Keep Window Coverings Simple

Living room with simple white curtains behind a sofa

Another trick for making a low ceiling look higher is to keep your window coverings simple.

Almost every one who comes into my house thinks this wall is at least 9 feet high, and it really is only eight feet tall.

The straight up and down lines of simple panels don’t break up the flow to the ceiling.

Having windows that take up most of the wall space also helps…but that’s not an easy thing to add if your house doesn’t already have them.

Curtains with frills or tiers focus your attention part way up the window which emphasizes the short wall.

3 | Use Shorter, Horizontal Furniture

Living room with low horizontal sofa - Photo by Flack Studio
Low profile furniture in a contemporary living room – Photo by Flack Studio via houzz.com

The third tip is to use low, horizontal furniture.

By using furniture which isn’t very tall, more of the wall is visible. And that makes it look like the ceiling is higher.

The horizontal lines also draw your attention away from the height of the ceiling, so you don’t notice it as much.

4 | Hang A Large Mirror

Oversized mirror leaning against the wall
Oversized Wall Mirror, via amazon.com*

Tall mirrors that rest on the floor, or cover a large part of the wall, visually expand the space.

They reflect light and the view of the ceiling which makes the room feel larger.

Antique-style mirror leaning against a living room wall
Antiqued Window Arch Mirror, via amazon.com*

A large window shaped floor mirror also provides the illusion of more windows…which adds to the illusion of more space.

5 | Avoid Overhead Lighting

Sconces on a wall in a room with low ceilings

Overhead lights or ceiling fans that hang down draw attention to how low the ceiling is.

People walking under them feel like they are going to bump their head…which is a red flag for a low ceiling.

Using lamps and wall sconces helps to avoid this situation.

Pendant light swagged over a table in a room with low ceilings

Or hang a pendant that can be swagged over a table.

All of these lighting solutions also have the benefit of providing fill light that makes people look better.

Because the light source is coming from the side instead of above, it prevents the unflattering shadows that ceiling lights can cause.

6 | Install Floor To Ceiling Bookshelves

Floor to ceiling bookshelves in a bonus room with a low ceiling

Floor to ceiling bookshelves act something like floor to ceiling curtains by drawing the eye upward.

Position them at the end of the room so that’s what you see when you walk in the room, and they will immediately distract from the ceiling height.

The side walls in this office are only 5 feet high and the ceiling is 8 feet at its peak…but it doesn’t feel like that when you are in the room.

Click here if you want to learn how to make these built in bookshelves.

7 | Add Vertical Artwork

Large artwork behind dining room table - Photo by Mercedes Premier Homes
Photo by Mercedes Premier Homes via houzz.com 

The next way to make a low ceiling look higher is to hang vertical artwork.

Tall artwork also draws the eye upward toward the ceiling.

In this case, because the rug on the floor and the background behind the picture are the same color, it leads your eye into the room and up to the top of the wall.

A very effective way to make the room seem larger!

(In the picture above, the ceiling probably is higher than 8 feet, but the same principle works in shorter rooms).

A vertical tile installation and tall mirror make the ceiling look higher in this bathroom

In my guest bathroom, a vertical tile installation with a tall mirror provides the same function.

Which makes the 8 foot ceiling in this room look higher than it is.

8 | Paint (or Wallpaper) Vertical Stripes

Bedroom with black and white vertical striped wallpaper that make the ceiling look taller
Black and White Striped Wallpaper, via amazon.com*

Using vertical stripes on the wall is another way to lead your eyes up to the ceiling.

You can either paint them on.

Or hang some striped wallpaper (like this wide black and white stripe).

Blue and silver striped wallpaper in a living room
Subtle Blue and Silver Striped Wallpaper, via amazon.com*

If you prefer something a little more subtle, going for thinner stripes with a less contrast-y color palette will also work.

9 | Paint The Walls and Ceiling The Same Color

Master bathroom with low ceiling that has all of the walls and ceiling painted in gray

If stripes aren’t really your thing, try painting the walls, mouldings and ceiling the same color instead.

In my master bathroom, it’s hard to tell that these ceilings are only 8 feet tall!

By painting everything the same color, the corners that define where the wall ends and the ceiling starts are less obvious.

And that makes it more difficult to see exactly how high (or low) the ceiling is…which works in your favor if you are trying to make it appear higher than it is.

10 | Go Dark To Light

Ombre wall that goes from dark on the bottom to light on top in a bedroom with a low ceiling

Still another technique to make a low ceiling look higher is to paint an ombre horizontal stripe pattern.

It starts out dark on the bottom and gets lighter as it goes up making the ceiling seem like it is floating.

Paint the ceiling the same color as the top of the wall and you also get the benefit of camouflaging the corner.

If you don’t want to paint the whole wall like this, a large piece of artwork that uses dark colors on the bottom, and light ones on the top concept will also work

That’s it for our ideas on making a low ceiling look taller. Hopefully, you’ve found some inspiration for decorating your own rooms.

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15 Responses

  • Thanks for this post, Wanda! Very helpful. Could you recommend a source for swag lights for over a dining table? I’ve had a tough time finding modern / contemporary ones.
    Also, I love your Venetian style frameless mirror (in the room that you painted dark to light). Could you please share where you bought it?
    Thanks again!

    • Hi Lele…I usually get my lights from lampsplus.com. But sometimes I find something good on overstock.com (usually for less) or horchow.com (if I’m willing to splurge). I bought the mirror from Lamps Plus as well…here’s the link: Venetian Style Mirror. Hope that helps!

  • Good evening. Thank you for a lot of ideas about increasing the height of the ceilings, this saves you from a feeling of pressure from above. Very helpful information.

  • Do floor to ceiling curtains work for basement apartments with windows only 14″ tall and located at the very top of the wall? My ceiling is also only 7.5 ft. high.

    • Hi Rach…Yes, I have hung floor to ceiling curtains in a basement with low ceilings and it does help. And it makes the window seem bigger when the drapes are closed. I also hung a mirror that was the same width as the window beneath it…that way when the curtains are open, the mirror helps to make it seem like the window continues down further.

    • Hi Julie…6 ft ceilings is a challenge! The first thing I would do is paint the ceiling the same color as the walls (that makes it less obvious where the wall ends and the ceiling begins). Then try to add tall vertical elements to the room, like curtains that go from ceiling to floor, floor to ceiling bookshelves, or even a dramatic headboard that goes from floor to ceiling. And no overhead light fixtures (recessed lighting would work, but I think it would call attention to how low the ceilings are). Hope that helps, and good luck with it!

  • In particular the dinning room has to be at least 12 and it looks like a designer room. Please designate which rooms are in your home and which ones are from another source.

    • Hi Terry…you are probably right that the dining room ceiling is higher than 8 feet, but I do think the idea of using a floor to ceiling vertical picture is just as effective in a room with a lower ceiling. You can tell which pictures come from other sources by the captions…they will be linking to the original website. The ones without links are my own.

  • Thank you so much for all the wonderful tips. I only knew about one or two of these, the other tips blew my mind how it gave the illusion of height. Thank you so much.

  • Give me a break – almost all of the ceilings in the photos where over 9 foot. Take a real challenge use a home with 8 foot ceilings.

    • Hi Terry…actually, most of the ceilings in these pictures are 8 feet high…they are rooms in my house so I know exactly what their height is. I guess the tips must work if you thought they were 9 feet 🙂 It’s possible that the pictures which came from houzz.com are higher (those ones I don’t know what the actual measurements are), but they still demonstrate the idea.

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