One of the most common design dilemmas we hear time and time again from Modsy customers is how to decorate a living room with high ceilings. It’s not surprising, since designing large spaces can sometimes be just as tricky as making the most out of small ones.
For starters, high ceilings are a great problem to have! ICYMI, we recently did a deep dive on how some studies have shown that high ceilings can stimulate creativity. Psychology aside, high ceilings are one of the best attributes you can have in a home; they open up your rooms and sometimes even give them a feeling of grandeur.
That said, the real challenge with high ceilings is that there’s simply a lot of vertical space to fill, which can be difficult. You don’t want your room to feel cavernous but how do you get the cozy vibe in such an open space? A lot of it comes down to scale and proportion: More than blank horizontal walls, high ceilings make rooms appear much larger and spacious than they are, so the trick is to play with that perception, which we touch on in our guide to scale and proportion.
If you’re working with a high-ceilinged room and not sure where to start, you easily see how color and furniture can work in your room with our online interior design service!
Otherwise, here are some tricks on how to decorate a living room with high ceilings, using scale and proportion in your favor to create a space that feels balanced and cozy.
1. Hang Curtains High
An easy trick to draw the eye up in rooms with high ceilings is to hang floor to ceiling curtains 6”–12” above the top of your window frames. In this living room, the high ceilings are “pulled down” by the curtains, which make the windows appear taller while filling up the space between the ceiling. Try a heavy curtain fabric like velvet to keep a large room insulated and cozy.
2. Paint An Accent Wall
To make high ceilings stand out without your room feeling spare and empty, paint an accent wall in a warm color. In this living room, the inlet accent wall in yellow appears cozy and welcoming around the large windows. The yellow shade also helps soften the starkness of the tall walls on both sides of the inlet, giving them a warm undertone that warms up the overall space.
3. Use Dark Paint All-Around
If adding an accent wall isn’t cozy enough for you, try painting all your walls in a dark color. It’s a surefire way to make any large living room with high ceilings feel layered and cozy. Dark color walls have a way of disrupting scale and proportion in rooms so that everything else in the space pops instead, like furniture and accents. It’s perfect for high-ceilinged spaces.
4. Add A Large-Scale Mirror
How to decorate a living room with high ceilings without painting or breaking the bank? Anchor a large mirror over your fireplace to create a focal point that draws the eye up. This is an easy trick that both opens up the room by reflecting light and makes the space feel instantly elevated and lived-in. Think of it as the ideal mix of airy, cozy, and chic—all by adding a mirror.
5. Line Up Tall Bookcases
What better way to balance out high ceilings than a row of tall bookcases that fill up your empty wall space. The living room shelves here function as practical storage while minimizing the cavernous look of the tall walls. It’s a great use of vertical and horizontal space, both as storage and as a focal point that connects the lower half of the room with the upper ceiling.
6. Opt For A Sculptural Light
High ceilings are perfect backdrops for large decorative lighting fixtures, like a globe pendant or a giant chandelier. And the more sculptural and bold your fixture the better. It’s a sophisticated way to add personality in rooms with high ceilings. Here, the modern metal pendant in this living room makes for a cool design element at the ceiling level that instantly draws the eye up.
7. Balance With Big Furniture
Bulky furniture can provide a solid foundation in a living room with high ceilings. They can ground the space, filling it up visually so that the room doesn’t feel as lofty. Consider furniture that’s proportional to your space still, meaning pieces that are wide and tall, like floor to ceiling curtains and shelving or a chesterfield sofa, so they fill out the room vertically and horizontally.
8. Layer A Large Rug
The best way to contrast high ceilings? Liven up your floors with an equally bold look. A large rug (or two giant layered rugs) is a great visual counterpoint to tall ceilings. They’ll ground your space like big furniture pieces, but they’ll also minimize the scale of the ceilings so that they appear lower. Pick a rug with a bold pattern for a focal point that balances out the room’s height.
9. Bring In Tall Plants
Trees and other tall greenery that add height will accentuate high ceilings in a living room. At the same time, they’ll act as a bridge that can tie together the overall space visually by drawing the eye from the floor to the ceiling. Additionally, tall plants are also a great way to add a touch of color and texture to the unadorned vertical space in a high-ceilinged room.
10. Pull In An Oversized Floor Lamp
Another accent that can act as a visual buffer next to high ceilings is a large floor lamp. An arch lamp in particular can add sculptural appeal as well as serve as a light source that’s close to the ceiling without being a pendant light. In this living room, the curved floor lamp helps to fill out a corner area while adding height that eases the loftiness of the high ceilings.
11. Stagger Wall Shelves
An easy way to trick the eye into thinking that your high ceilings are not that high is to stagger and hang wall shelves far above eye level. In this living room, the shelves are close to the ceiling and draw the eye up, accentuating the room’s height without it appearing or feeling sparse. You can also do this with a floor to ceiling gallery wall.
12. Go Full Minimal
Minimal decor and walls can add a lot to a living room with high ceilings. So don’t be afraid to go with a pared-down approach. The key is to have a focal point that anchors the view in your space. In this living room, the abstract painting creates a bold focus that balances out the openness of the room and walls. If you’re feeling unsure, get our tips on how to decorate large blank walls to see how you can create a sense of coziness in spare, high-ceilinged spaces.
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