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Lisa0825 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-15-06 03:01 PM
Original message
dealing with low ceilings
I have a house built in the mid 60s with ceilings only about 8 feet high. The ceilings and doorways are very plain. I look at everyone's house very closely nowadays, trying to pinpoint details I like about them, and think about whether they would work to improve mine. One thing I noticed is that most newer houses have moulding around the ceiling and more detailed door frames, so I was thinking these were things I could possibly attempt to update on my own. But I was wondering if, since I have such low ceilings, adding moulding would make them look even lower? Or would certail types of moulding be better for this issue?

I have no moulding on the ceiling at all, and what is around my door frames and floor all looks very plain like the top piece of wood in this picture, only painted white to match the walls:




What about painting too... are there any painting techniques specifically to understate how low a ceiling is? Like, I have seen rooms where part of the wall is color and part white, and it has a divider on the wall... either a border or a piece of molding...would that be good or bad for a room with low ceilings? Should ceilings always be some kind of white?

Thanks for any suggestions! :-)
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NMDemDist2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-15-06 03:36 PM
Response to Original message
1. I googled "decorating low ceiling" and got some good ideas
Overcoming a room's weaknesses
If your room has low ceilings, keep your furniture lines low. Choose sofas and chairs with low backs, unless you're an unusually tall person. For personal comfort, seatback height should be closer to your shoulders than to your waist. Keep cabinetry heights below eye level, or let your cabinetry stretch all the way to the ceiling you don't want to inadvertently produce an even lower visual height cap for your walls. Avoid using cornices over the windows of a low-ceilinged room for the same reason.

You can raise your walls' visual height by hanging pictures, plates or a shelf full of objects over your windows and doors. You can make your walls seem taller by painting them and any cornice molding into the ceiling. Use the same color as the ceiling to minimize the wall/ceiling delineation. Use light, satiny, cool colors, since they make space recede.

and

How to Heighten a Low Ceiling

Rooms with low ceilings give an oppressive feeling, whereas rooms with a high ceiling give a light and airy feel with a large amount of space. To overcome the problem of a low ceiling, there are a couple of interior design strategies to use.

First of all put down a darker floor covering, whether it be a wooden floor, carpet or lino. Paint the walls with a lighter color than the floor, or use light colored wallpaper. If you can, use white paint for the ceiling as this always gives the room maximum light and instantly draws the eyes upwards.

Hang up wall pictures with strong vertical lines as this then gives the impression of height. Use portrait prints such as vertical landscapes, i.e. lighthouses, trees, cityscapes, or floral prints such as flowers in a vertical vase or tall long stem roses. Therefore, by combining the dark floor, light walls and ceiling and portraits prints, all adds to the sense of height in a room.

and then here's a whole article on the problem

http://www.homeandgardenmakeover.com/lowceilings.html
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Lisa0825 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-15-06 04:03 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Thanks so much!
:yourock:
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eleny Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-15-06 04:38 PM
Response to Original message
3. Our ceilings are 7"4" or so - I feel your pain!
But one good thing - your heating bills shouldn't be as much as those homes with the giant tall ceilings. :)
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Lisa0825 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-15-06 04:43 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. LOL
Yeah, except any savings gets eaten up by the drafty windows that need replacing! :rofl:
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eleny Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-15-06 04:56 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Windows make an enormous difference!
We finally ditched all our lousy windows and metal storms. The house is now warm and quiet. Ours was built after WWII by people who were very short. No lie. We never met the guy but the woman was under 5' tall. I still love this old place and we deal with all the oddities.

Oh, one more thing. We added two bay windows to the house. Where we had two side by side windows in the living room and this spare room, we had them removed and bay windows installed. In my breakfast nook, we took out another pair of windows and added a sliding door since those windows looked out over the patio. The bays and slider added so much light and the feeling of roominess to each room that they gave the whole house a new, roomy ambiance. Just something to consider down the road if the budget allows for it.
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Lisa0825 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-15-06 05:01 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. I will be getting new windows, probably next year.
I have to save up for it, and maybe check my equity vs. value again by then, since I've done a lot of work this year. Maybe I can refinance again to get more done. I definitely want to put new, brighter windows in the front, even if I can't afford to do the whole house.
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eleny Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-15-06 05:31 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. We didn't do ours all at once
First, we got the ancient windows on our enclosed, north facing front porch replaced and also a new front and back door. Then we did the bays and the slider another time. Finally, we did the rest of the windows. Frankly, I don't think I like having a big mess all at once, anyway.

They have those triple paned ones now, too. The longer we wait, technology can get better!
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Jersey Devil Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-19-06 06:18 PM
Response to Reply #6
21. It's a good investment
I did it myself a little over a year ago, using replacement windows I bought at Lowes, Pella Thermastar, and installed them myself (22 of them). Heating and cooling units are lower (thank God, considering the price increases) and I do notice the house to be quieter. Another good benefit is the low-E glass that cuts out much of the heat coming through the windows and the bleaching of sunlight on furniture, drapes, etc. Plus they fold in to clean, which is maybe the best benefit of all. Many also have built in child locks that do not permit the windows to open more than a few inches.
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politicat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-15-06 05:26 PM
Response to Original message
7. Put the curtain rods just under the ceiling.
Go for long, simple lines on valances, rather than poofy. Think box valance rather than balloon valance.

Recess the lighting - a chandelier or swag lamp with low ceilings makes the problem worse. If you must have ceiling fans, have 'em wired for wall or remote control rather than using pull chains.

Low furniture with petite lines, color blocking, tall artwork, and visually large art make a huge difference.

I'll see if I can locate any pictures from the now destroyed house - it had 8 foot ceilings and weird cabinetry.

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eleny Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-15-06 05:33 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. You are so right about the chandelier thing
I have a chandelier that hangs down and really cuts the room. It's a china one and I love it. But I'd do much better with dining room lighting that hugs the ceiling instead.
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Stinky The Clown Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-15-06 08:36 PM
Response to Original message
10. Consider picture molding
Picture molding goes flat on the wall, not unlike chair rail molding. It was common in Victorian homes, but isn't a particularly Victorian detail. It came into use as a way to hang pictures from hard plaster walls that would not take nails very well. Surely you can recall seeing pictures of rooms with pictures hung from long wires mounted to hooks on a piece of trim board just below the ceiling. That's the picture molding. The original stuff had a rebate (a groove or notch) cut into the top, back (wall facing) edge which would allow the use of hooks.

It is usually mounted a foot or so below the ceiling/wall juncture, but can be mounted higher or lower depending on your room.

Here's a (not so good) picture of it and link to an HGTV article about how to install it.



http://www.hgtv.com/hgtv/remodeling/article/0,1797,HGTV...

To make your ceilings look higher, paint the ceiling color down the wall to the picture molding. For an 8'-0" ceiling, I'd put the picture molding about 6" below the ceiling. While logic tells you this will make the walls look shorter, the effect is quite the opposite. It makes the ceilings seem higher by giving them definition and depth (height)
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Jersey Devil Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-19-06 02:39 PM
Response to Original message
11. ?? - 8 feet is a standard ceiling height
Where are there homes, other than rooms with cathedral ceilings, that have more than 8 feet height?
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Lisa0825 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-19-06 04:33 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. Most of my friends and acquaintences have higher ceilings...
Edited on Wed Apr-19-06 05:09 PM by Lisa0825
They look to be about 9 feet in bedrooms, bath, and other small rooms, and even 10 feet in main living areas or foyers, sometimes going up to the second floor in the foyer or family room.

edited to add: I haven't ever seen crown moulding in a room with less than 9 foot ceilings, and I love the look, so my issue was whether or not decorative moulding on a low ceiling would make it look lower.
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Jersey Devil Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-19-06 04:56 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. Your friends must live in older homes or an older, urban area
Eight foot ceilings are the standard under BOCA (the national building code). That's why sheetrock generally comes in 8 foot lengths. Sure hallways, great rooms with cathedral ceilings and other custom rooms may have higher ceilings but 8 foot ceilings have been the standard for many, many years. Generally, you'd only find higher ceilings in urban areas (or custom built homes) where the buildings are much older, going back before the 1940s.



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Lisa0825 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-19-06 05:08 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. No, these are newer homes....
from the $125K to $200K range, from the mid 1990's through present. Mine was built in the mid 1960s. They don't all have high ceilings throughout their house, but at least the entryway and living rooms are higher. My brother's house is probably in the $200K neighborhood, and has 10ft ceilings on the whole 1st floor, except where the second floor overlooks the living room. My friend Kathy's house is in a modest subdivision. Her entry is 8 ft high, and then you step down to the living room and dining room which are 9 ft hight, along with all the rest of the house.

Maybe it's a regional thing?

Even my friend's older condo looks to have at least 9 ft ceilings.
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Jersey Devil Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-19-06 05:17 PM
Response to Reply #14
16. Must be because I haven't seen that around here
I live in the northeast, NJ to be specific. Even houses that sell for a million+ have 8 foot ceilings standard unless it is a hall, or a room with a cathedral ceiling.

I also just got back from visiting my daughter in Alaska where she lives in a nice development of new homes, all with 8 foot ceilings as well.

I don't know where you live but I know it isn't around here because we haven't seen $125K to $200K houses in many years. Most of the new homes are of the "McMansion" variety, at least 4,000 square feet and in the $600K and up price range.



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NMDemDist2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-19-06 05:29 PM
Response to Reply #16
18. high ceilings are fairly abundant in the hotter climates
helps keep the rooms cooler
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Jersey Devil Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-19-06 05:34 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. Thanks, learning something new here
It makes a great deal of sense.
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NMDemDist2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-19-06 05:52 PM
Response to Reply #19
20. exactly, you folks in the NE don't want to have to heat those high rooms
but we here in the south love em :loveya:
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Lisa0825 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-19-06 05:14 PM
Response to Reply #13
15. Just found this...
http://www.boston.com/realestate/news/articles/2006/03/... /
"Ceiling heights, which have been rising in the past 10 years, are expected to be 9 to 10 feet on the first floor while upscale homes will have a standard ceiling of at least 10 feet (10- to 12-foot range) on the first floor and a 9-foot standard ceiling on the second floor."

http://faculty.washington.edu/jwh/NYToil2.htm
"The standard ceiling height has risen to nine feet from eight, meaning more space to heat and cool. ''Even though the efficiency of larger homes has improved,'' said Gopal Ahluwalia, research director for the National Association of Home Builders, "
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Jersey Devil Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-19-06 05:21 PM
Response to Reply #15
17. very interesting, thanks
That is not happening here locally. I am guessing the reason is that many of the towns in my area have severe building size restrictions due to the fact that builders have been constructing larger and larger homes on smaller and smaller lots. Just a guess because I can understand why higher ceilings would be more attractive.

Now I am going to keep an eye out for this. I represent some builders (I am a lawyer) and haven't seen a set of plans yet with the higher ceilings.
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Lisa0825 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-19-06 08:54 PM
Response to Reply #17
22. I live in the Houston area...
McMansion Central! :eyes:

I haven't been up north much in years, except at my sister's in Maine for Christmas, but now that I think about it, I do remember my sister's house having ceilings like mine. It's hard to put a ceiling fan with a light on a low ceiling, and most folks I know have them to lower energy bills in the summer too.
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