Eliminate Horizontal Details
Get rid of any architectural details in the kitchen that run horizontally, except for the counters, of course. If the kitchen has a chair rail, remove it to give the walls a longer look. The chair rail and other horizontal design elements cut the wall into sections, making it appear shorter from floor to ceiling. Thick baseboards and crown molding will also shorten the walls.
Paint the Ceiling Lighter
A white or very light-colored ceiling will make it appear higher. A paint with a slight sheen will reflect light even more, giving the room an airy, open feel. The rest of the room should be painted or wall-papered a slightly darker color than the ceiling. Another trick designers use when painting a low ceiling is to extend the paint line down the walls about three inches, which gives the illusion that the ceiling is taller. A dark floor paired with a light ceiling does double duty by visually recessing the floor while extending the ceiling at the same time. In general, light colors in the kitchen, from cabinets to countertops, will make the room appear larger.
Use Vertical Wall Stripes
If plain walls just won't cut it, homeowners can try to incorporate a vertical design onto the walls to make them appear longer. Some wallpapers have a vertical pattern or stripe that does the trick. Painting a two-tone stripe pattern works well for a more subtle effect.
Lay Down Bold Rugs
Bold kitchen rugs will help draw attention downward, and in combination with a darker floor and light ceiling will help elongate the walls and the entire kitchen. Creatively designed kitchen rugs can be found at home decor stores and online.
Install Upward Lighting
Lighting and light fixtures can play an important role in making a ceiling appear higher. Do not use lights that point away from the ceiling, recessed lights or pendulum lighting, which make a kitchen feel more closed in. Pendulum lights are a kitchen favorite over the sink or a snack bar, but if the ceiling is low, they will only make it seem lower. Instead, choose lights and fixtures that face upward or are reflected upward. If there is space for it, install a runner of lights on the open space above the top cabinets to illuminate the ceiling, visually lifting it. If upward lighting does not provide adequate lighting for kitchen work, homeowners can install lighting below the top cabinets that illuminates the countertops.