How to Work with High Ceilings


If you’re lucky, then your ceilings may sit far above the traditional height of around 2.4 metres. Homes of a certain vintage, barn conversions, or those that have been specially designed with space in mind may come with ceilings so high that you barely ever notice them! This is, of course, a blessing – spaciousness is a quality prized by homeowners and interior designers. But it can also make a place feel empty, sterile and unwelcoming. If you’ve ever visited a big, empty cathedral, you might have gotten a prickling sense of discomfort that goes away when you leave. That’s not what we want in the home! So how can we negate this effect, and make sure those larger rooms don’t feel desolate? 

Break Up the Space 
An enormous expanse of wall can be made more visually manageable with the addition of a few horizontal lines. These break up the space into chunks that can be more easily processed by your brain. You might achieve this with panelling, millwork, archways and shelving. 

Use Darker Colours 
Darker colours are notorious for reducing the subjective size of a space. In smaller dark-tiled bathrooms, this can be a problem – but if the room is already massive, it can actually be a solution. Breaking up a ceiling with a few darker accents works wonderfully. The beams in that barn-conversion are prime candidates. 

Make Use of Curves 
One trick employed by cathedrals is the use of curved structures. When your eye picks up on a line, it’ll naturally follow it to wherever it leads. That’s why so many works of art make use of lots of curved lines leading back to the subject – the thing you’re supposed to be paying attention to. By using arched windows and other such tricks, you’ll be able to prevent the eye from wandering up to the ceiling – it’ll instead loop straight back down into the room. This way, you’ll get that subconscious impression of space, but you won’t get constantly distracted by it. 

Don’t neglect lighting 
One of the dangers of a big ceiling space is that it can look dingy at night time – especially if it’s being lit by just a single source of light in the centre. Eliminate those dark corners by installing multiple light sources, and thereby creating a nice even spread, or highlighting those elements you’d like to draw attention to. 

Painting the Ceiling 
Painting a high ceiling presents a different challenge to painting the other ceilings in your home, as you’ll be scaling a ladder to reach those nooks and crannies, or perhaps putting your roller on the end of pole. 

This approach tends to suffer in certain parts of the home, like stairwells. But if every ceiling in your house is the same height (as is invariably the case) you might want to resort to a change in tools. HVLP (that’s high-volume, low-pressure) spray guns will allow you to blast high-quality paint up against the ceiling, ensuring perfectly even coverage, and no visible streaks. SGS Engineering provide a thorough guide to getting the most from your HVLP setup.

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