Photo Courtesy of Scripps Networks
| August 9, 2012

High ceilings make rooms look bigger and can increase your home's resale value, but decorating them can be a challenge.  Anitra Mecadon, host of DIY Network's "Mega Dens," offers us some expert tips for making the most of vertical spaces.

What is it about high ceilings that make them so desirable?

I'd say it's this airy feeling of grandeur you can't help but notice. With higher ceilings comes taller windows, letting in more light, creating more of a view and giving you more to work with, anesthetically speaking.  A taller window calls for more fabric, creating a much more dramatic look design-wise.  Also, since there is inevitably more vertical space on the walls and within the actual room, you can be more dramatic with your art and lighting.  You have more of an opportunity with high ceilings to make a statement with your lighting than you do with an eight-foot ceiling.

What are the best colors to paint walls with high ceilings?

This type of question gets into the "rule zone," and when it comes to color, I don't do rules!  But when tackling high ceilings, color is a great way to accentuate the height and help bring drama to the space. I usually lean toward darker/bold colors; at least on an accent wall … Usually, there's one wall within the room that takes your breath away when it's finally painted.  

You don't have to paint the ceilings, but you do have to do something to help "bring it in," so to speak.  With high ceilings, if you’re not careful, your decor can  get lost in the room.

What kind of light fixtures would you recommend?
Lighting is the jewelry of the room.  It's that place you can dare to make a statement, and bring some bold color into the room. You don't have to spend thousands on a fixture, but you do have to have a plan for the space, paying close attention to your furniture layout.

It's also a great way to define sections of your room and most large rooms have more than one section.  Do a quick sketch of your floor plan and grab a colored marker and place dots where you think your lighting should go to help you get the most out of your room.  Your electrician will take it from there.

Do you have any tips for wall decor?

My theory on wall decor goes hand-in-hand with my theories on lighting.  You do not have to spend a fortune to make a statement, but you do have to get creative and be bold! A common mistake people make is buying small-scale pieces when they have large walls and focus their wall decor strictly at eye level. Don't fall into these traps! If you've been blessed with the gift of height, USE IT! Here are a few no-fail ideas to give your space some flavor:

  • Doors: Vintage doors are a great way to take up height within the space. I've stripped them down to the bare wood, painted them with crazy-fun bright colors, and even had an antique mirror cut to fit within the door's panels.  The doors don't even have to be vintage; a series of hollow core doors painted with a bold pattern or just plain old chalkboard paint can create a killer look for you! The door "plays" any way you do it.
  • Objects in Repetition: This can be anything: a Buddha statue, antlers, metal flowers, plants in fabric-covered coffee cans, even model dinosaurs from the dollar store. By creating a grid pattern on your wall and mounting the object, you'll get instant style! I don't always have the budget left for art when building a “Mega Den,” so this is a great way to add style on the cheap.   
  • Frames: I don't care if they're vintage or new, the collage of frames is my go-to when it comes to dressing a wall. You can fill them with black and white family photos, kids' art, or even leave them blank and just hang them on the wall. There is no wrong way to do this, but there are a few tricks. I like to map out the wall space I'm working with on the floor, so I can keep moving the frames around until I get the right feel. Once I get it right, I trace out the frames on some brown paper and mark the exact location they hang from with an “X.”  I then tape it to the wall with blue tape and nail away. No thinking and no unwanted holes equals no stress!
Photo Courtesy of Scripps Networks
Anitra's tips and tricks for low ceilings:
  • Insert tin ceiling panels in a drop ceiling. The reflective quality of the tin will help 7 feet of nothing look like something
  • Another trick I like to use is what I call my "vertical line trick":  I love molding (i.e. judges paneling) on the wall because it adds a nice rich feel to the room.  By creating a pattern for your molding you create the illusion of height.  Picture this: a short box on bottom – a few inches of wall space – a tall skinny rectangular box on top.  This works every single time, trust me!
  • For really low ceilings, I will hang recessed can lighting over an area that you won't have to walk underneath.  For example, a coffee table, game table, pool table ... you get the idea.  Even though you don't have a ton of vertical space to work with, nobody notices because they are focused on that fantastic piece hanging over your entertainment area.