The Ups and Downs of Low Ceilings

The Ups and Downs of Low Ceilings

Ceiling
By Mateos Glen Hayes January 18, 2022

When it comes time for a major renovation, you just might get to thinking about ceiling heights. Maybe you’ve always felt like your low ceiling attic bedroom is just too cramped, or perhaps your main floor is feeling claustrophobic.

In other words, you most likely think of making your ceilings higher, rather than lower. And that isn’t a big surprise since taller ceilings give you more headroom and they also will make a space feel a lot bigger. However, low ceilings homes aren’t without their upsides. Provided you don’t make them too low, low ceilings can come with some unexpected benefits that might make them worth keeping.

Of course, there are downsides as well, but low ceiling tricks can help you head them off. Changing the height of a ceiling can prove to be a very time-consuming and costly job, so it's a good idea to see if you can work with your low ceiling home rather than rebuild it. If you keep it, you might just fall in love with the unique pros it can offer. 

What Is The Best Ceiling Height? 

There are two main factors that determine what the best ceiling height is for your home. The first thing to know is that there are legal minimums on how low a ceiling can be. Typically, it is illegal to build a home with a ceiling lower than 7 feet.

In other words, your home could even come with a 7-foot ceiling, but if you were to add some thick flooring that reduces the gap to less than 7 feet, that would be illegal in most municipalities.

The other factor then to take into account is your own personal preference. If seven feet seems too low for you, consider making the ceiling higher. An 8-foot ceiling might work better because it will keep the ceiling low while still giving you an extra foot overhead to work with. It might not seem like much but it makes a significant difference at the end of the day. 

Upsides

A Cozy Atmosphere Makes Low Ceilings Appealing

A Cozy Atmosphere Makes Low Ceilings Appealing

To start off, there are some unexpected upsides to having a low ceiling home. 

Lower HVAC costs 

A smaller room is going to require less energy to keep climate controlled, and what that means is that a low-ceiling can keep heating and cooling costs down. That’s good news, especially if you want to save money when trying to beat the cold winters and hot summers.

As an added bonus, rooms with lower ceilings will heat up faster as well and since hot air rises you’ll feel the warmth sooner. Taller ceilings by contrast mean you need to expend much more energy to keep things at the right temperature. Because cold air falls, the lower parts of the room will be colder longer and all the heat will be trapped out of reach near the ceiling.

This means higher operating costs for your heating system, not to mention the cost of extra time you have to wait for the room to warm up. 

Cozy Atmosphere

Smaller Rooms Are Easier to Keep Well Lit

Smaller Rooms Are Easier to Keep Well Lit

This can depend on personal preference, but many people can appreciate the coziness that a low ceiling can provide to any living space. A low ceiling keeps a space more compact, and that means that it can also feel more intimate and familial. High ceiling houses may be more palatial, but they can also come off as cold and intimidating to some, and this can cause discomfort.

The only way to really know which of these preferences best suits you is to try them and see what it feels like in real life. If possible, visit a home that has high ceilings and then try out a place that has low ceilings and see how it feels for you. Each person is different and so it is best to learn through experience what is more comfortable for you. Trying beforehand is also a much better idea than getting stuck with a ceiling configuration you don’t like. 

Better Lighting 

Another neat bonus of low ceiling homes is that they make it much easier to keep interior space well lit up. With taller ceilings, lots of lighting fixtures are required to avoid having dark, cavernous, and gloomy rooms in your home. With low ceilings, this is less of a problem because you’ll need fewer lights.

Plus, you don’t even have to install contemporary ceiling lights for low ceilings if you’d prefer not to go through the trouble and expense. Thanks to the smaller volume of the space, supplementing your light fixtures with lamps is an easy and effective way of brightening things up for a little cost. 

Downsides, and How To Fix Them 

Lower Ceilings Mean Less Room, But There Are Ways Around That

Lower Ceilings Mean Less Room, But There Are Ways Around That

While there are also some cons to a low ceiling, there are some low ceiling tricks that will help you to make full use of the space. 

Discomfort

If you are claustrophobic, a low ceiling is not going to be a huge selling point. If you are of average height, a low ceiling can be rather uncomfortable. You will easily be able to reach up and touch your ceiling. This also means that you have a higher chance of bumping into low-hanging light fixtures or hitting them when you move to take off your sweater.

However, the solution here is fairly simple, and it’s one we’ve already talked about: before you lower your ceiling, try out a place with a low ceiling. You won’t know what to expect unless you can get a chance to try living in a place with a low ceiling beforehand. If you find out that you dislike your low ceiling after installing it, you can still increase the height slightly with different flooring materials. Thinner flooring material can win you back some headroom, as can removing low-hanging fixtures. 

Less Space

Because a lower ceiling means less volume, this also means less room. This can be an issue if you need storage space and it can also restrict what kinds of fixtures and furniture you can put in your home. For instance, low-hanging chandeliers and similar lighting fixtures will be difficult to fit in a low-ceiling room since they will become an obstruction and a potential hazard. Any tall furniture items may not fit in a low ceiling room.

As far as lighting goes, you can still install contemporary ceiling lights for low ceilings if you are strategic about it. Instead of placing it in the middle of a passageway, install your lighting fixture over a countertop or dining table. This will keep it out of the way and also makes good use of available space. As for furniture and other fixtures, the best low ceiling idea is to get creative. Instead of trying to shove a big closet into your low ceiling space, build a closet into the wall instead for space-saving storage.

You can also do something similar with a lowered kitchen ceiling. Cabinets and worktops can be built into a wall, saving space and avoiding the need for ill-fitting standalone fixtures. This will save space and allow you to put in fixtures whose dimensions are more low ceiling compatible. 

Less Natural Light

Placing Low-Hanging Lights Over Tables is a Smart Use of Space

Placing Low-Hanging Lights Over Tables is a Smart Use of Space

A less tall ceiling also means fewer tall windows. Smaller windows will simply not be able to allow as much sunlight through, and this can make a low ceiling house feel gloomy. Fortunately, there are a couple of neat ways to circumvent this problem with a bit of ingenuity and practicality.

For instance, a skylight would be a great way to supplement the amount of sunlight that comes into your house. Even just one skylight can make a major difference in how bright your interior space is, and so they can be a worthwhile solution assuming that your ceiling doesn’t have another floor on top of it.

If you can’t build a skylight for whatever reason, there is a far more pragmatic solution, and that’s simple to add artificial lighting. This solution is more affordable and since lighting a smaller space is easier, it has immediate results. Thanks to the advancements of LED lounge lights for low ceilings, it is now possible to affordably purchase smart LEDs that are multi-color and controllable through a smartphone.

Pair these lights with nifty artificial sunlight LED routine and you’ll have all the sunlight you could ever need.

MG

Written by
Mateos Glen Hayes

Written by Mateos Glen Hayes

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