Questions and Answers on Decorating High Ceilings Questions and Answers on Decorating High Ceilings

Q: I am a graduate of the Sheffield School of Interior Design and am writing to ask for help. I am designing a living room with 17-foot ceilings. It is long and narrow, with a sofa on 1 wall and 2 chairs with a table between them on the wall directly across from the sofa. Over the sofa, I have placed a large, Palladian gold mirror. It is very impressive. The problem is what to do with the chairs. One piece of art looks lost, yet 2 pieces divides the wall in half. Any ideas?

A: I'm still stuck on the thought of 17-foot ceilings, which are high enough that they'd spike the anxiety level of any decorator, despite their being utterly gorgeous. Ceilings that high must give this room a soaring feeling no matter what the other dimensions of the room are. Where I come from, 12-foot ceilings are pretty grand, so this place must feel like you're practically outdoors.

You're entirely right to think hard about how to make the most of that space. Any time you have high ceilings to work with, you want to accentuate them to make the room feel loftier. It's easy to focus only on the space 6-feet above the floor, but the savvy decorator realizes that the space above one's head can be equally important.

You've obviously done your homework in the Sheffield Course, in which we discuss the options for wall decoration. But you have more choices than just 1 large piece or 2 small ones.

Given that you've found a great single piece to hang over the sofa, consider breaking up the opposite wall with several small pieces. You could also hang the single Palladian mirror over the two chairs, which will unify that side of the room, and hang more than one piece of art over the sofa. Doing so balances the room, as you'd have a single piece on the wall over multiple chairs and multiple pieces over the single sofa.

You're not limited to only 1 or 2 pieces for the walls. Since you have so much wall space, consider hanging a collection of artwork. Using the same style of frames will add unity. It’s an ideal spot for a collection of family photographs.

For a more avant-garde look, hang something from that high ceiling, such as a silk Chinese kite, a collection of wind chimes, or a flag. Framed artwork isn't the only choice.

Once you let your imagination take off for this room, it will soar as high as those ceilings.

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