There was a time when eight-foot ceilings were considered the norm in apartments, condos and townhouses.

Over the last 10 years, many newer homes include soaring ceilings to make up for the smaller footprints of space being offered. But if you’re dealing with eight-foot ceilings don’t despair; there are some designer tips to help make those daunting lower ceilings rise up to the occasion, in a stylish, modern way.

Paint

I have always subscribed to the old rule that ceilings should be white, and this idea holds even truer when ceilings are lower. A light ceiling will reflect light and draw the eye upward rather than bring the ceiling down in to the room. A slight sheen to your paint will make small spaces with low ceilings look larger by reflecting and bouncing light around.

When choosing colours for the entire room, it’s always best to create a monochromatic scheme, keeping ceilings lighter.

Window treatments

A vertical blind or drapery panels create tall lines in a room and stretch your view upwards. Tall, vertical patterns on draperies will help make the ceilings look higher. Draperies should be within the same colour as the colour of the walls to create a monochromatic colour scheme while still drawing the eye upward.

Furnishings

Keep chairs and sofa heights to a maximum of 36 inches in height in order to create a low-slung, lounge effect; the lower we sit to the ground the higher the ceilings will appear. This rule holds even more true when choosing a bed and night tables. Keep area rugs colourful and dramatic in order to draw the eye down and away from the ceiling. Tall, floor standing mirrors are a great accessory and can help guide the eye upward (plus the mirror visually enlarges a room).

Mouldings and trims

Paint baseboards, door frames, interior doors and crown moulding the same colour and tone as the walls to create a contemporary and simple vibe; plus you add a few extra inches of visual wall height to the room with just the one colour.

Artwork

Lowering all your artwork a few inches from the norm (the middle of the artwork should be 68 to 70 inches off the floor). This will create a greater distance from the top of the art to the ceiling, therefore suggesting the ceilings are a bit taller. This is a great trick in lower levels and basements, too.

Light fixtures

The bottom of a chandelier or swagged lamp should be hung three to four inches higher than average over an eating table. The bottom should normally be 30 inches from table to bottom of fixture, so raise it to about 34 inches and it will visually help to push your ceilings up. Considering the height restrictions, consider a semi-flush light fixture rather than a hanging fixture; they can be just as decorative and yet are not made to hang low into a room (see top left).

Got a design dilemma? Email your question and a photo to: home@metronews.ca. For daily design advice, follow @KarlLohnes on Twitter.