MAK­ING THE MOST OF HIGH CEIL­INGS

Montreal Gazette - - NEW HOMES + CONDOS - WENDY HELFENBAUM

Soar­ing ceil­ings of 10 feet or more are a huge sell­ing point in homes and con­dos, be­cause they make the space ap­pear larger and airier. But hav­ing so much room over­head presents a num­ber of chal­lenges around light­ing, win­dow treat­ments and colour palettes.

We asked two Mon­treal in­te­rior de­sign­ers to share their best tips for mak­ing the most of high ceil­ings.

ADDING AR­CHI­TEC­TURAL EL­E­MENTS

“When I see that a client has a high ceil­ing, I get to­tally ex­cited,” said de­signer Cindy Brownstein, owner of CindyB Dé­cor (cindyb­decor.com).

“Hav­ing a high ceil­ing is an as­set for any decor and, to­day, ev­ery­body wants high ceil­ings.”

Cre­ate sur­pris­ing views by in­cor­po­rat­ing lots of tex­ture on the ceil­ing, sug­gested Brownstein, who likes to re­peat ma­te­ri­als like re­claimed wood on floors and ceil­ings, which warms up a room.

“I've worked on projects with 10- to 15-foot ceil­ings where I've done cof­fers and beams, and I've also done pan­elled ceil­ings and wood treat­ments, which are very pop­u­lar now,” she said.

“There are plas­ter moulds you could have made and do some very in­ter­est­ing cof­fers, or you could do some big squares or rec­tan­gles out of wood sur­rounded by mould­ings.”

One bud­get-friendly op­tion if you want your ceil­ing to look like ce­ment, wood slats or big mar­ble tiles, is to put up gor­geous tex­tured wall­pa­per, Brownstein added.

LET THERE BE LAY­ERS OF LIGHT

You can cre­ate many moods in homes and con­dos that have high ceil­ings, so it's wise to in­stall var­i­ous light sources, said Eu­ge­nia Trian­dos, a de­signer at Hi­bou De­sign & Co (hi­boude­signco.com).

“Re­cessed light­ing is good gen­eral light­ing, even when ceil­ings are high, and the new LED fix­tures give off a strong dif­fused light while min­i­miz­ing the need to in­stall so many,” said Trian­dos.

“It's also very im­por­tant to bring down the light­ing with pen­dants and wall sconces in­stalled at — or just above — eye level. In­cor­po­rate table and floor lamps to al­low you the flex­i­bil­ity to cre­ate an awesome am­bi­ence while adding depth to the decor.”

Very tall lean­ing floor mir­rors also bring in light and call at­ten­tion to the ceil­ing height, she said.

When ceil­ings and win­dows are high, nat­u­ral light pours in beau­ti­fully, said Brownstein, but for evenings, you'll need ex­tra light­ing. In ad­di­tion to re­cessed lights, she likes to add a cou­ple of chan­de­liers and ac­cent lights.

“As the sun goes down, you want a lay­ered light­ing ef­fect, so I work with lights go­ing from the ceil­ing all the way down to the floor; a great room can han­dle a lot,” she said. “I'll put in a lot of hid­den LED strips in the mill­work or the shelves of a wall unit or on the floor. Hav­ing lay­ers of light­ing al­lows you to turn on as much or as lit­tle as you want.”

There are also light­ing sys­tems you can con­trol with your smart­phone or tablet, Brownstein said.

GLAM UP YOUR WIN­DOWS

One com­mon dilemma prop­erty own­ers face is how to han­dle the floor-to-ceil­ing win­dows that fre­quently come with high-ceilinged homes and con­dos. Leav­ing them bare means lit­tle privacy, plus in­tense heat from the sun. Brownstein said there are many op­tions at dif­fer­ent price points.

“Win­dow treat­ments to­day aren't like 20 years ago; th­ese are not your grandma's drapes,” she said. “Now, cur­tains are very straight and the hard­ware is very sim­ple. We do a lot of rip­ple-fold cur­tains; they warm up the space, help with the echo and looks great when you want that ho­tel look.

“If clients have the abil­ity and bud­get to do some con­struc­tion, I build boxes into the ceil­ing, so that when you roll up your black­out blinds, they're re­cessed into the ceil­ing so you have a clear view with com­pletely open win­dows.”

Cus­tom-made op­tions make more sense, be­cause store-bought treat­ments won't likely be avail­able in the ex­act size you need, Trian­dos said. Be­cause all that fabric can be heavy and chal­leng­ing to open and close man­u­ally, she rec­om­mends mo­tor­ized win­dow treat­ments to cover walls of high win­dows of­ten.

“We re­cently de­signed a loft in down­town Mon­treal with nearly 12-foot-high ceil­ings. Roller blinds are too com­mercial and un­invit­ing, so we opted for mo­tor­ized ro­man shades to add warmth to the new pent­house.”

POP THINGS UP WITH PAINT

Peo­ple have been con­di­tioned to al­ways paint a ceil­ing white, but in rooms with high ceil­ings, that will just add to the stark­ness of the space, said Trian­dos.

“Some­times, in a smaller space like a pow­der room, it's nice to bring the ceil­ing down by paint­ing it in a darker colour,” she said.

“Paint can play an im­por­tant role in ac­cen­tu­at­ing the ceil­ing if it's placed on an ac­cent wall or on a fire­place that goes right to the ceil­ing.”

Cindy Brownstein added that rich colour can cre­ate an in­stant fo­cal point.

“We've done ceil­ings in char­coal, greys and blacks,” she said. “It's re­ally nice, and gives you au­to­matic wow fac­tor.”

AVOID TH­ESE COM­MON CEIL­ING MIS­TAKES

Eu­ge­nia Trian­dos of­ten sees homes and rooms with high ceil­ings where art­work and light­ing are hung too high in an at­tempt to fill the space.

“We ad­just the art place­ment on 95 per cent of our projects dur­ing the ini­tial con­sul­ta­tion with the client, be­cause art­work and light­ing should al­ways be in­stalled around eye level,” she said.

“The goal is to bring some of the vis­ual in­ter­est down rather than fill the empty space on top.”

In kitchens with ceil­ings higher than nine feet, Trian­dos sug­gests bring­ing cab­i­netry up to the ceil­ing when­ever pos­si­ble to max­i­mize stor­age and draw the eye up.

If you have stun­ning ceil­ings, don't be afraid to show them off in all their glory.

PHOTOS (3): COUR­TESY OF CINDYB DECOR

Wooden beams and wall sconces above the win­dows add warmth and light to this home's din­ing area, de­spite the high ceil­ing. Tran­som win­dows fur­ther add to the nat­u­ral light while brass shelv­ing sus­pended from the ceil­ing adds to the stor­age space in the kitchen while si­mul­taneously serv­ing as a vis­ual el­e­ment.

Adding wooden beams to the high ceil­ing in this bath­room not only adds warmth to the decor, but also pro­vides an eye-catch­ing back­drop to the chan­de­lier over the bath­tub.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF HI­BOU DE­SIGN & CO.

A cof­fered ceil­ing adds an el­e­ment of vis­ual drama to any room.

Mo­tor­ized win­dow treat­ments are a good way to cover walls of high win­dows.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF CINDYB DECOR

Creat­ing a cof­fered ceil­ing above the liv­ing and din­ing room por­tions of this open space not only adds a vis­ual el­e­ment to the high ceil­ings, but helps de­lin­eate those spa­ces and dif­fer­en­ti­ate them from the rest of the condo.

In some rooms with high ceil­ings, paint­ing the ceil­ing a dark colour can cre­ate the il­lu­sion of a cosier, warmer space.

PHOTOS (2): COUR­TESY OF HI­BOU DE­SIGN & CO.

Very tall lean­ing floor mir­rors can bring in light and call at­ten­tion to ceil­ing height.

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