The Lowdown on High Ceilings – Part One

We all love them when we’re house hunting. You know that feeling I’m talking about, I’m sure. It’s when you walk into a home and the ceilings are so high, you immediately think you’ve walked into a palace. It doesn’t matter that it’s just an 8×8 room; high ceilings lift your eyes up and around giving the immediate impression of spaciousness.

Reality sets in after the moving van has left the driveway and you’ve got these ginormous walls and no idea how to fill them. It’s not that difficult, if you just follow some basic guidelines.

First, a good rule of thumb is that single pieces of artwork or groupings of artwork should take up about 2/3 of the space above a piece of furniture. This makes the space feel more balanced and complete.

Take a look at my living room before I put this principle into action:

Living Room beforeMy artwork was too small and it  had a vertical (or portrait) orientation. At the time, I thought this vertical orientation was working because it matched the “tallness” of my ceililngs. I figured the ceiling was high so I needed a “tall” piece of art. What I had failed to consider was that the overall shape of the space was a horizontal (or portrait) orientation. Ultimately, my actual ceiling height didn’t really matter. I needed to take a step back and look at the entire size and shape of the space that I needed to fill.

Here’s the room now:

Filling the spaceThe ceiling height in this room hasn’t changed. All I did was fill more of the space and honor the shape I was filling. The room is still open and airy because of the ceiling height, but the seating area is much more intimate and inviting. I couldn’t find one large landscape painting to fill the space, so I doubled up with 2 vertical paintings and put them together to give the illusion of a horizontal landscape.

The other mistake a lot of people make when they have high ceilings is to center the artwork on the wall. In reality, you need to just ignore how high that ceiling actually is and anchor the artwork to the furniture. Notice in my living room that the artwork is just about 6 inches above the couch. If the chair rail wasn’t there, I could have even dropped the paintings another 2 inches. When you marry the artwork to the furniture below it, you create a cohesive, balanced look. If I had hung the artwork any higher, it would have gotten that “lost in space” look I had going on in my before photo.

If there is no furniture below the artwork, you want to hang it so the center is 54 inches from the bottom of the floor. If there is seating in the area, lower it so that the art is at eye level from a seated position.

Stay tuned… I have some more ideas on this topic I’ll post later this week.

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