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How to Make Rooms With Slanted Ceilings Look Bigger

Linda Erlam
Half wall, half ceiling -- help it make up its mind.

A slanted ceiling may be an architect’s dream, but it often is the decorating mom’s bad dream. Slanted ceilings can reduce wall space and make the room appear much smaller than it actually is. And there is the age-old question about whether the slanted portion is part of the wall or part of the ceiling. Use a few decorators' tricks to deal with these ceilings, solve the problems they can cause before they arise and make your rooms look bigger.

Contrast Is the Culprit

Think of a vase of flowers, all pink with one white rose tucked in the middle. You see the white rose first, and it is the most “important” one in your mind’s eye. The same principal applies to making a space expand visually, and that is to reduce contrast and allow the viewer’s eye to flow around the room, not stopping and starting at every wall-to-ceiling or wall-to-wall junction. The color you choose is not as important as the consistency of color. The less contrast there is between all the angles of the slanted ceiling and the walls, the higher your ceiling appears and subsequently, the larger your room appears. Slanted ceilings create many visual stops and starts, so reduce them by adhering to the no- or low-contrast rule.

Keep It in Proportion

Keep the furniture in the room low profile. Low-profile sofas and chairs and platform beds help visually expand the room and keep attention away from the slanted ceiling. If two of the posters on a four-poster bed touch the slanted ceiling, they draw attention to the ceiling, making it appear lower and the room smaller. A trick designers use to expand the size of a room is to pull all the furniture away from the walls 3 or 4 inches. This removes some of the demarcation between the furniture and the walls, making the walls appear farther away.

Remove Clutter's Clout

The most common contrast in a room, which also is one of the easiest to control, is clutter. This applies to clutter on the furniture, tables, floors and walls. Remembering contrast causes the eye to stop and start, these items begin to appear closer to the viewer and the room appears smaller. Keep pictures on the walls away from the angles of the ceiling by moving them off the wall that joins the slanted ceiling or mounting them lower on the wall

Throw Some Light on the Subject

Use mirrors to move light around the room and lamps to remove any dark corners. An uplight shining through a plant creates a vertical illusion and lights the dark corner at the same time. If you have a large window, hang a mirror on the opposite wall, reflecting the light back into the room. Keep the window coverings the same color as the walls, again reducing the contrast.