ISSUE 97  |  Autumn in Japan

Remodeling 101: How to Make Ceilings Look Loftier

November 04, 2013 4:00 PM

BY Christine Chang Hanway

Harboring fantasies about tall ceilings but lacking the footage? Fashion pundits have long advocated head-to-toe monochrome dressing to give the semblance of extra height. Can a similar approach be applied to interiors? The answer is a resounding yes.

Above: In his renovation of a London mews house, architect Andy Martin uses a full-height door to make the low basement ceiling seem taller. Photograph via Andy Martin Architects.

The Design Challenge

How do you make a space with a standard eight-foot-tall ceiling look loftier?

Insider Tip

Raise your doors to ceiling height. 

1. By creating one datum line, your eye continues right up to the ceiling instead of stopping at door height, creating the sense that the ceiling is taller.

2. Your spaces will gain a grandeur and feel more elegant as a result. The eye is predisposed to a bit of verticality: think tall models.

The Proof

As part of her recent remodel of her New York apartment, our friend Sally Schneider of The Improvised Life removed all of her 6-foot, 5-inch doors, including closets, and replaced them with 8-foot doors. Here are the results:

Photographs by Sally Schneider.

Above: By raising the height of her closet doors to ceiling level in the entry, Schneider created one continuous datum line. 

Above L: Schneider’s new bedroom door viewed from the hall. Above R: Narrow closet doors are now tall and skinny.

Above: Schneider’s bedroom ceiling seems taller now that the increased doors heights are level with the ceiling. 


Above: The original standard-height closet doors in the entry make the room feel more compressed.

Above: Schneider’s bedroom before her tall door transformation. 

Have you done anything to make your own quarters feel loftier? Please share your tips and war stories in the comments section below. And fill us in on other design questions you’d like us to answer.

For more of our remodeling posts, go to our DIY & Remodeling gallery.

Are your closets in order? Did you know that a well-kept wardrobe saves money? Click Expert Advice: 10 Wardrobe Maintenance Essentials and see how.