How to Design A Living Room With Low Ceilings

We recently dished out our best tips for how to decorate a room with high ceilings. But what about the opposite problem? Rooms with low ceilings?

Just like high ceilings, it can be a challenge to decorate a room with low ceilings. You don’t want to overstuff it with furniture and the wrong decor, which will make your space feel cramped and even claustrophobic. And that’s definitely not what you want, especially these days when we’re spending so much of our time inside our homes!

All that said, there are some easy decorating ideas that can help make your room with a low ceiling appear taller and more spacious. From curtains to tall mirrors, here are our best designer tips for solving the low ceiling dilemma for any space in your home.


decorate a room with low ceilings

Tip #1: Add Reflective Surfaces

In rooms with low ceilings, using reflective furniture helps bounce light around and visually open up your space. It’s the easiest way to create the illusion of a more spacious room.

Consider all furniture and accent pieces in reflective materials and finishes, like mercury glass decor, mirrored tables and chests, and even antiqued glass pieces. And don’t rule out clear furniture either, which can minimize the visual clutter in a room.

In this low-ceilinged living room, an acrylic side table and a glass-top coffee table help to anchor the room while opening up the space with an airy, open vibe. It’s also a great idea to work in these hacks to make a room seem larger!

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decorate a room with low ceilings

Tip #2: Mix In Small-Scale furniture

Low ceiling rooms come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes, low ceilings are part of the home’s architecture that you have to work around, like a sloped or A-frame attic room. If that’s the case, you’ll want to lean into small-scale furniture that fits into your space without it looking cramped.

Try pulling in pieces with low profiles, which will in turn accentuate the height of the ceiling versus the size of the room. Small-scale furniture that’s proportional to your space is key.

In this attic nursery, the open-base dresser and crib bring an openness to the space. By hanging a large tapestry high up along one wall also helps draw attention to the vertical space instead of the compact, cave-like feel of the room. If you’re not sure what’s considered small scale in relation to your room, check out our guide to scale and proportion!

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decorate a room with low ceilings

Tip #3: Hang Tall Wall Decor

An entryway with a low ceiling can easily leave a claustrophobic impression. One way to make a ceiling look higher in a busy spot like the entryway is to hang wall decor high up, which will draw the eye up and elevate the focus in the space.

Center a tall mirror on a wall in your foyer to instantly add to the height of your walls and create the illusion of higher ceilings. Additionally, tall sconces that shine light upward or in both directions are also great for elongating your walls visually. Hang these accents closer to the ceiling, as in this entryway, to play up the vertical space in your entry and give it a more open look and feel.

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decorate a room with low ceilings

Tip #4: Keep To Minimal Patterns

Bedrooms with low ceilings are one of the most common challenges we tackle for Modsy homeowners. The trick is to minimize the focus on the size and height of the room, which means keeping colors and patterns to a minimum and finding furnishings that play up comfort.

Draw attention to the floors with one big neutral pattern and skip colorful prints everywhere else. In this bedroom, the geometric rug helps draw attention to the floor instead of the low ceiling. Meanwhile, the tall floor mirror reflects light, gives the look of more vertical wall space, and opens up the room as a whole. If you do want to add some color, go with two to three pops of soft neutral shades to avoid overwhelming the space.

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decorate a room with low ceilings

Tip #5: Paint A Dark Accent Wall

Similar to a room with high ceilings, an accent wall can change the perspective of size and space in a room with low ceilings. But the key is to always stick to a darker shade, like a black or deep gray, which will lend major cozy vibes and a spacious look.

The best way to balance a dark accent wall in a room that has a low ceiling is to mix in small-scale furniture. Small means it will feel more proportional to the room size and also work well in a space that already has a cozy dark accent wall. Keep to lower streamlined seats and pieces that are less bulky, like a deep reclining accent chair or a Mid-Century sofa. This will also prevent furniture from blocking light streaming into the room. If you’re working with an odd-shaped living room, start here with our awkward living room design solutions.

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decorate a room with low ceilings

Tip #6: Put Up Long Curtains

Low ceiling, long curtains. It’s a foolproof trick that always works. And it’s the easiest decor trick to make a low ceiling look higher. The key is to find the right length curtain that goes full floor to ceiling.

Start by hanging floor-to-ceiling curtains higher above your windows and closer to the ceiling as a way to draw the eye up. What this does is make the room appear taller and have more ceiling height than there actually is. The long curtains will also help elongate the walls and draw the focus upwards in the room.

Good tip: Be sure to hang your curtains at least 3”-4” above your window frame if you’re going for this look!

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home office in terracotta shades with two office desks and wall mounted wood shelving

Tip #7: Work In A Tall Bookcase

It might sound counterintuitive, but a bookcase that spans floor to ceiling is a great way to open up a small room with a low ceiling. Why? Just like a tall mirror and long curtains, it directs the focus vertically rather than horizontally, so it distracts from the size of the room.

Try a modern and more streamlined bookcase that’s almost ceiling height. The minimal style will keep the space from appearing cramped or bulky and it will create a more airy, open flow look in the space. Contrast your tall bookcase with smaller furniture. This way, you’ll have pieces that are proportional to the largest piece in the room, creating perfect visual balance. Check out our small space furniture guide for some tips on how to decorate compact spaces.

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Also, check out our gallery for small living room design tips!

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My Modsy Story: How I Designed My First Home From Scratch – and Did It Right

grown-up living roomWhen she moved from a small city apartment to a 3000 sq ft home, Nicole was ready for a grown-up living room. Here’s how she made it happen and made it look easy.


Homeowner: Nicole T, Sales and Development

Location: Phoenix, AZ

Room: Open “Grown Up” Living Room

Her Style: Modern Rustic

The Backstory

Scrapping all the old furniture from their 650 sq. foot apartment and designing their grown-up living room from scratch

My family and I had just moved from a very tiny apartment in the Mission District of San Francisco to a new home in Phoenix, AZ. As such, NONE of our furniture was suitable for our new 3000 sq ft home.

Additionally, after 7 years of apartment living, we were ready to finally have a grown-up living room. We were over buying small, cheap furniture and were ready to take the plunge and invest in some more substantial pieces for our new place. We were starting from scratch and wanted to do it right.

Nicole’s Living Room Before

The Design Dilemma

Creating a space that was both beautiful and family-friendly, without spending a giant fortune

Our new home has a very large, beautiful family room. We weren’t bringing any furniture from our old apartment, so it was hard to know where to start with such a large space. Plus, despite the place being so spacious and comfortable, there were some odd features we just didn’t know how to design around.

We knew that we wanted to compliment the style of the house, which is a contemporary custom home with mid century modern features. And at the same time, we are expecting our second child in 2 months, so we needed furniture that could stand the test of a toddler and a newborn.

Ultimately, we wanted to create a thoughtful looking space that we’d be happy living in every day.

grown-up living roomNicole’s Modsy Design 2

The Modsy Moment

When a friend’s success story sealed the deal

A friend recommended I try Modsy after she used it to decorate her new home. I was skeptical at first – my friend had purchased “everything from West Elm,” so I was worried the items selected would all be fairly expensive.

However, I learned that Modsy works with a great mix of high and low cost retailers, so we definitely would have lots of choices.

How Modsy’s Renderings Helped Nicole

Seeing the possibilities and embracing new ideas for her space

When we got our designs back we were very impressed with Modsy’s renderings! It was crazy to see a digital image of our exact space designed by someone that had never been there.

grown-up living roomNicole’s Modsy Design 2

I really liked the layout of design 2 – we hadn’t thought of facing our couch towards the fireplace, as we were afraid it would cut the space in half. But after seeing the designs, we went for it! Now we think it fits so much better than the design the previous owners had.

Modsy’s designs also showed us that we don’t have to be afraid to go bold with color. Neither my husband or I would have ever considered the color scheme that our designer first introduced us to, but after seeing the results, we were sold.

It was crazy to see a digital image of our exact space designed by someone that had never been there.

I also learned that you can design a space with a lot of color while still using mostly neutral furniture. We went with grays and whites for many of the chairs and tables, but also found that the design looked amazing with the bold green couch. We wouldn’t have thought of that ourselves and are very happy with it.

grown-up living roomNicole’s Modsy Design 6

The Real Results

Bringing her new, grown-up living room to life

Modsy definitely helped us envision the possibilities for our space in a way that we wouldn’t have been able to do on our own.

Neither my husband or I would have ever considered the color scheme that our designer first introduced us to, but after seeing the results, we were sold.

We loved the layout featured in our initial design and were very happy with all the views of our space and attention to detail in the renderings. We worked with the Modsy team to make a few tweaks to our original designs (we ended up with 6 in total) to get the colors just right. Now we are so happy with the overall design of our new house!

grown-up living room


We bought a lot of items from our final Modsy design. We ordered our furniture directly through Modsy and appreciated the Insider Rewards discounts!

Modsy’s designs helped us tremendously. Not only did it change our perception of how to lay out our furniture, but it helped us fill some odd spaces. Thanks Modsy!

See Nicole’s Favorite Design in 360!

Need a little help designing your grown-up living room?