working with tall ceilings

Lately I’ve been getting lots of emails with questions regarding how to work with tall ceilings. It may not seem like a “design dilemma”, but it can be a bit intimidating trying to figure out what to do with all that extra space above eye level. I’m certainly not a design expert by any means, but I have lived in a couple of homes that have had tall and vaulted ceilings. In fact, house numbers 1, 2, 3, and 5 all had at least one room with a vaulted ceiling. And our new house, #6, has 10 ft ceilings throughout the first floor with a cathedral ceiling in the living room. Through trial and error I’ve learned a few things along the way in terms of what works and what doesn’t when you’re designing a space with tall ceilings.
design ideas - working with tall ceilngs
breakfast nook in house #5
Here are a few tips to help get your creative juices flowing and hopefully inspire you to tackle your own tall ceilings with confidence.

Hanging things with a staggering or step ladder effect will naturally draw the eye up to show off the height of the ceiling and keep it connected to the room. In this picture below notice how the art, the chandy and the curtains are all hung at different heights. Also I think this is a great example of the importance of blank space (try not to get that Taylor Swift song stuck in your head now). All too often in rooms with tall ceilings we feel the need to fill every inch of wall space, but it’s important for the eye to have a place to rest. Empty space is not bad. It’s necessary and it allows the pieces you do have displayed to really shine.

Whether it’s a grouping or one extra large piece, hanging art to the ceiling is another way to highlight the height of a room. However I think it’s important to note that anything you hang on your walls should be purposeful and intentional. Meaning don’t just fill space to fill space. Model homes tend to hang scrolly looking sculptural pieces up high in rooms with vaulted ceilings, but I think it’s a mistake to hang something purely because “you need something in that space”. Your walls are the best place to showcase your personality in your design, so make sure you aren’t just hanging something to fill up space but are instead hanging things you love and want to be surrounded by every day.
Better Homes & Gardens

Also notice in the picture above the laddering effect again with the tree, the chandy and art all bringing the eye towards the ceiling.

This isn’t something you have to do, but it’s a good idea that does help to make a room with a super tall ceiling feel a bit more cozy. Notice however that while all of the decor, curtains and art are under the same line, the chandys and moulding in both spaces below draw the eye toward the ceiling so the grandeur of the room isn’t lost.


Paint is so powerful, and a ceiling should not be overlooked when choosing colors. I think the idea of bringing the ceiling down with the use of paint is a fun one and definitely ups the cozy factor while still paying homage to the height of the room.

Apartment Therapy

I also love the way the stripes in this bedroom below highlight the pitched ceiling yet keep the whole space fun. The vertical stripes point up showcasing the planked ceiling in the room.

Last but not least take full advantage of the opportunity to hang super long, gorgeous curtain panels. Let them be the wow factor in the space drawing the eye up and framing the windows.
The main takeaway really is to figure out what you want your space to feel like and then work from there. Don’t let the height of the ceiling intimidate you and just focus on creating a space you love. Do you have any design ideas or tips to share for working with tall ceilings?

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