How to make your basic 9-foot ceiling into a more appealing '5th wall'

Tribune Content AgencyAugust 16, 2013 

To make the ceiling seem higher, hang drapes outside the window opening.


Some ceilings soar to dizzying heights, suffused with light or accented with stained glass or dramatic works of art.

But what can you do to add pizzazz to an average 9-foot ceiling? In fact, it’s pretty simple to make your “fifth wall” – and the room – look more striking and stylish.

Be bold

Even if your ceilings are only 9 feet high, that doesn’t mean your furniture has to be scaled down. By adding larger-scale pieces, you bring the eye up and visually expand the room.

Take, for instance, a family room with a 9-foot ceiling and an entertainment center almost as tall. Because of its grand scale, the entertainment center makes you look up. And with its impressive size, it will get the attention rather than the lower ceiling.

There’s an important decorating rule that’s worth mentioning: Keep it to a single piece of large, bold furniture in a room with a low ceiling. If there are too many tall pieces of furniture in the room, the effect is lost.

Highlight ceiling

The standard protocol for making ceilings seem higher is to paint them white, but there are other options. One way to blur the lines between the ceiling and the walls is to paint both the same color. They will blend together into one soaring, open space.

Another chic trick to add light is to paint your ceiling a metallic color. If your dining room feels closed in with a low ceiling, why not paint it a shimmery bronze or antique gold? The shine will lift the room and add style. Metallic paints, with their light-bouncing properties, also raise the ceiling visually.

Other tricks

To make your ceiling look higher, avoid hanging draperies in the window opening. Instead, hang them 6 to 8 inches below the ceiling. Raising the curtains this way brings the eye up and makes the whole room look larger. Adding long panels creates a nice long line from almost the edge of the ceiling to the floor.

If you’re extra daring, hang your drapes right at the ceiling. This can really give the room a boost in height. The panels will add plenty of vertical height because they appear as long stripes.

Look for artwork that’s vertical rather than horizontal, and use striped wallpaper or paint stripes on the wall for still more eye-raising appeal. Of course, a trompe l’oeil painting of the sky is tough to beat for pushing your ceiling to new visual heights. And don’t overlook lighting. Can lights, ceiling fixtures and track lighting can all add the illusion of height.

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