More and more Americans are living the high life.
Until recently, ample vertical space was found almost exclusively in old town houses and in lofts that had been converted for residential use. The vast majority of dwellings built since the 1950s were outfitted with 8-foot ceilings. Initially seen as fashionable, the low ceilings soon became a standard feature, especially in apartments. It didn't take builders long to realize that they could squeeze more units into a given structure by limiting ceiling heights.
Taller ceilings are now becoming more common in newly constructed homes and apartments. A growing number of buyers and renters are willing to pay more to avoid the claustrophobia that afflicts many long-time inhabitants of squat spaces.
But even as ceiling height has been creeping up, the height of manufactured furniture has remained pretty much the same. This presents a problem of proportions for those fortunate to reside beneath 10- to 12-foot ceilings.
Floor plans for such spaces aren't sufficiently useful if they only designate furniture placement. Vertical dimensions need
to be taken into account as well, with sketches showing the height of windows and wall space. Additional consideration must also be given to commercially made pieces like cabinets, breakfronts and secretaries, which generally have been designed to fit in rooms with 8-foot ceilings.
One simple solution, if appropriate to the design of the taller room, is to place decorative objects on top of these sorts of furnishings to extend their height. Make sure, however, that the top of such a piece is sturdy as well as flat, because a basket or a container filled with dried flowers can be surprisingly heavy.
Another option involves construction of a niche around a bookcase that is tall, but not quite tall enough. Shelves can be added directly above and adjacent to a 6-foot bookcase or a door, as shown in the photo. Here, an entrance door was integrated into the composition by adding shelves for the display of a ceramics collection.
A high ceiling also offers an opportunity for installing a suspended light fixture. Besides providing ambient lighting, a ceiling-hung outlet can be used to establish the central axis of a ++ room. A suspended fixture does need to be high enough above the floor so as not to interfere with walking.
A new book titled "London Living Style," published by Rizzoli, shows another good method for balancing the proportions of a tall room. Look again at the photo. Notice how a somewhat oversized still life has been placed above a standard-height console. The work of art is twice the height of the 34-inch console and nearly as wide. Hung in this manner, the painting becomes an element of interior design, making the long and low piece of furniture underneath it look more in harmony with the room's dimensions.