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Studio Blog

January 24th

Decorating a Home with High Ceilings

A large dining room such as this one could feel empty but the addition of coffered ceilings, a chandelier and a round table make it very inviting.

As designers, we are constantly noticing when a space doesn’t feel “contained.” For example, I recently dined at the beautiful Addison restaurant in The Grand Del Mar hotel. My party was seated at a grand table that was probably 9 feet in diameter, and the ceilings were very high, which made you feel a bit like you were on display. If they had only installed a chandelier above the table, it would have brought the large space together and created a completely different atmosphere.

We have had several challenges like that lately, where we needed to make a client’s tall spaces feel more intimate. For example, I was consulting on a large home in Santaluz that has a kitchen with 25-foot-high ceilings. The adjacent living room also has height but the kitchen’s ceilings were even more elevated. So we emulated the beams from the living room ceiling to slope across the kitchen with a five-foot gap between the beams and the ceiling. This gives the illusion of a lower ceiling while maintaining the airy benefit of the actual height, plus it provides texture and color in an unexpected way for a kitchen.

Chunky coffered beams add geometric interest to a contemporary kitchen.

Another client had a living room with 12-foot ceilings, Travertine floors and white baseboards, which combined to give an overall cold feeling to the space. The client wanted her home to be warm and cozy, so we refinished the baseboards in a dark stain and then installed a coffered ceiling in that same dark stain. It was quite a transformation, and she now loves her living room!

This rustic kitchen is enhanced by beams that draw the eye down from the pitched ceilings without eliminating the height’s airiness.

Don’t get me wrong: tall ceilings are wonderful. It is always better to have too much space than not enough. But it is important to recognize when that openness results in a lack of definition. Many people make the mistake of filling the room with more furniture, accessories, or heavy draperies to try to correct that disparity, when the best solution is to rethink the ceiling itself, whether that is bringing in beams as we did or simply hanging a chandelier to supply balance.

Need help with decorating high ceilings or making your space feel more comfortable? Please contact us for a complimentary interior design consultation.