Friday, February 24, 2012

Cosmetic Solutions for Low Ceilings

If you want to make a low ceiling look and feel taller, which in turn can make a small room look larger, there are several simple cosmetic measures you can take, and they cost little or nothing.

In this room you see decisions that lowered the ceiling. Read about the solutions, then see how many issues you can identify. The answers are at the bottom.**

Solutions with Paint
Improper Accenting Lowers the Ceiling
  • Don't accent the crown molding or the baseboards. Paint them in the wall color, using a satin enamel for durability, or to add a subtle difference in texture.
  • Use the wall color on the ceiling; or
  • Use a much lighter version of the wall color on the ceiling.  Many designers will spec a quarter or half formula of the color; however, I often prefer to look at a paint strip to get an idea of what several lighter versions will look like, before making a choice. Always make a large sample on foam core and tape it to the ceiling to see how it works. Color will change, depending on the orientation in which it's viewed. Never choose a ceiling color holding the sample board vertically!
  • Use a light color on the ceiling that's in low contrast with the wall color. Avoid stark white which will  make the room feel cold.
  • If the room has a chair rail, paint it the wall color to avoid cutting the wall in half.

Window Treatments

  • Hang window treatments at the top of the wall, whenever possible, never at the top of the window
As you see in this sketch, the difference is dramatic. Notice how much larger the right window looks, and how much more light can enter the room.


Decisions that Lowered the Ceiling:

  • The ceiling is darker than the upper section of the wall. 
  • Skimpy crown molding and baseboards have been painted in a high contrast accent color.
  • Chair rail in a high contrast accent color is cutting the room in half.

If  Roger had been asked to paint this room, I would have done a (free) color consultation and suggested:

Option #1 - A Single Wall Color
  • Use a single, warmer wall color to complement the wood floor, and 
  • Paint the skimpy crown, chair rail and baseboard in the wall color. 
  • Choose a lower contrast trim color that complements the new wall color.

Option #2 - Two Wall Colors
  • Use different colors on the upper and lower walls, but choose ones with a similar Light Reflectance Value (LRV) for low contrast.
  • Paint the chair rail (and possibly the ceiling, depending on how light the colors) in the upper wall color.
  • Paint the wall register and baseboards in the lower wall color.
  • Use a lighter color on the ceiling.
  • Choose a lower contrast trim color that complemented the new wall color(s).
If your house has low ceilings and you'd like some expert help, call me at 828-692-4355 to schedule a paint color consultation. If we do the painting, my guidance is a free part of our services. 

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