Question and Answer on Low Ceilings

White ceiling with brown crown molding
  • 5-10 hours
  • Beginner
  • 0-200

Q: I have just bought a house in which the living room ceiling 7.5-feet, which is a little low. I am wondering what I can do to improve the look of the room. I have already removed the chair rail. Should I keep the ceiling molding, or should I remove it as well? If I keep it, what depth is best?

I know that a unified color scheme for the ceiling and wall would be best, but should they be the same color, or different shades? I plan to keep the scheme on the light side, so how about trim color for baseboards? My preference is towards taupes, creams, and greens. Your advice would be appreciated.

A: For anxious types such as myself, a room with a low-ceiling only serves to make us feel trapped because with anxiety comes a certain amount of claustrophobia. I'm glad to hear there are readers out there working hard to make their ceilings look great.

You're on the right track with what you've done so far. A chair rail only breaks up the room's walls, making the ceiling actually appear lower. In a room with high ceilings, for example, nine-feet or more, a chair rail creates a nice visual break. It also provides a point of interest, but you have enough height to work with so the ceiling does not appear low.

Ceiling molding, also known as crown molding, will do a world of good on a low ceiling. Thin crown molding still lends an air of elegance to the room by giving it a more finished look.

If you choose the colors well, the molding can even help create the illusion of height. A lighter molding and ceiling will draw the eye up, away from the floor, and create the illusion that the ceiling is further away. Use the colors you've chosen, putting green on the walls with cream on the crown molding and the ceiling. Paint the baseboards taupe.

As long as the colors are light, there won't be too much contrast between the color of the wall and that of the ceiling, which could contribute to the chicken-little feeling. Ensure the ceiling has a plain, smooth surface.

Finally, choose a ceiling light fixture with a low profile so it doesn't extend down too low while you're standing underneath it, because it really will make you realize how low the ceiling is. In a low ceiling room, table lamps and floor lamps can be a better option, and you can even have them plugged into switched receptacles so they can be activated as you come into the room.