When it comes to decorating your basement, the height of the ceiling can play a big part in helping you choose what you're going to do, especially if you have exceptionally low ceilings. Low ceilings create design dilemmas. Unfortunately, if the decorating isn't handled gracefully, the whole basement can end up feeling like a cave. In the same way that high ceilings give rooms a much larger feel, low ceilings can serve to make a space look small and cramped, even if it's not.
You'll be glad to know there are things you can do to open up your basement space and keep it from a cave-like appearance. Making the area lighter and brighter will go a long way in giving your basement a larger look. Use light colors on walls and ceilings, and both table and floor lamps to brighten the basement up.
Wall sconces can make a big difference if you use them correctly. They need to be hung fairly high in order to project their light onto the ceiling and open the area. Wall sconces are unique in that they shine upwards. If you place them too low, they could end up shining up into people's eyes. Therefore, they need to be placed above eye level if your ceilings are high enough to allow for it. Otherwise, forget the sconces and go with alternative lighting.
You need to avoid using fluorescent lighting in basements with low ceilings. It will make your basement appear smaller, dimmer, and more like a cave. You'll also find that recessed ceiling lights call attention to how low the ceiling is and actually make the space feel smaller.
Any way you can you'll want to open up space in the basement to make it appear larger and make up for the cramped feeling created by the low ceiling. For example, you'll want to keep furniture placed around the perimeter of the room leaving the center open and appearing more spacious. In recreation rooms, you might consider placing furniture in small groupings in the corners. Any arrangement you can come up with that leaves the middle of the room open will fool people into thinking the room is larger.
The newer trend in darker paint colors will not work in a basement with a low ceiling. Instead of looking bright and happy, they will serve to make the area seem smaller and more cramped. Use light colors for walls. For window treatments, try to leave as much of the windows uncovered as possible so that more light will be let into the space. Depending on the type of windows you have, you might consider tie-back drapes and a valance across the top. You can always install mini blinds if you need more privacy.
Mirrors are wonderful for making small areas look larger. Using mirrors on walls can open the appearance of the room up enormously. You can also place mirrors on the walls opposite each other which will detract from the ceiling and make the room look like it goes on forever.
Don't hang anything from the ceiling, because that will only draw attention to the ceiling and make it seem even lower than it is. It will also add to the look of the confined feeling of the room. Use floor lamps and table lamps to light the space. If you hang ceiling lights on a low ceiling, a tall guest may bump his head on them, and think about how low that would make the ceiling seem!
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