I am having my basement remodeled. The ceiling is about 6'6 recessed lighting has already been installed. I would like to know what I can do do make the ceiling appear taller.


Generally speaking, a room with a light-colored ceiling will appear taller than a room with a dark-colored ceiling. However, in a really small space painted in a darker color, painting the ceiling the same color will make the border between wall and ceiling disappear, making it more difficult to gauge the ceiling height by sight.

A related technique for rooms painted in "warm" tones is to tint your ceiling paint two shades lighter than your walls, but in the same basic hue. This will blur the line without creating a "closed-in" feel that a darker ceiling can create.

Using vertical stripes on the walls will draw the eye up and down and will make the walls appear taller than they really are.

You can also cheat perspective a little by blurring the line between wall and ceiling. Painting a gradient between the wall color and ceiling color, that begins on the wall and ends on the ceiling, will give a somewhat forced perspective that makes the room look taller. Similarly but easier, painting a border the same color as the dark walls on the white ceiling will give an impression that the wall continues slightly higher than it really does before the ceiling begins.

One last thing; while the recessed lighting stays out of people's way, it won't illuminate the full 180* sweep from the edge on one side of the ceiling to the opposite edge; you'll get a band of shadow caused by the angle that the light is recessed into its can or tray. This can bring down the perceived height of the walls. Try filling the room with light from other sources, like wall sconces or table/floor lamps, to put light up along the walls filling the shadow.

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    Some of he LED recessed kits, like Cree (driver,LED and trim) throw more side light than fluorescent recessed. I had an Indian Tribe shoot the Cree's down because they lit the walls more than the originals in the casino. – lqlarry Mar 28 '12 at 0:22

Another tip - painting the baseboard the same color as the walls can also make the room appear taller. I did this in my basement and just used the same color paint with a slightly glossier sheen than the wall paint (e.g. eggshell on walls, satin on baseboard)


I understand that lights have been installed already, but another path is to not put up any ceiling and leave the joists exposed. Possibly you can paint them black for the "city coffe shop" look. That will give you up to 10 extra inches of ceiling height.

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