Melissa Labbanks Blasdale, Hawes Contributor
Soaring ceilings may seem like a dream, but decorating the empty wall spaces that support ceiling heights can be a challenge. However, you don’t have to sacrifice comfort because your walls are tall. Timeless techniques can bring warmth and interest to your lofty rooms. Here’s how.
10 things designers want you to know about what they do
1. Hang vertical artwork. A perfect complement to high walls is vertical artwork. A single bold picture, a large gallery wall collection or a contemporary installation are great ways to connect your extra height to the rest of your interior. Mixing volumes and images detracts from the monochromatic domain of painted drywall, and takes the room from sterile to welcoming by visually bringing the walls indoors.
2. Volume up. One of the easiest ways to warm a tall wall is to scale your artwork to complement it. The large horizontal pieces are strong enough to balance the space without overpowering the room. You can use color and theme to make the room seem more personal and less institutional.
The three-horse painting displayed in this large room is about the size of a sofa, yet feels nicely balanced against the vastness of the space. Anything bigger could dwarf the furnishings and put too much emphasis on the artwork itself.
3. Use bold colors. Using bright colors in your portrait art will lift the eyes upward, making tall walls more intimate and connected to the overall space.
advice: Create a bold piece of vertical art by painting blank canvases of different sizes in complementary colors and hanging them next to each other to create a single work.
4. Consider the fixtures. Portrait art doesn’t have to be limited to canvas. Consider wall sculptures or multi-piece fixtures, like these bright blue butterflies hanging on the wall. There is enough interest and variation in this style that the wall requires no other decor.
5. Play with textiles. An unexpected way to dress up long walls is to use textiles. Simple and elegant, a single piece of fabric attached to thin rods at the top and bottom adds softness and a cocoon-like feel. Several pieces of fabric can be hung side by side in any configuration, depending on the size of the wall.
6. Bring wood trim. Using wood trim to create architectural interest, the tall wall goes from subtle and boring to a piece of art in its own right. More embellishments aren’t necessary when you have a gorgeous floor-to-ceiling, 3D texture.
advice: Design your pattern on paper and stick it on the wall before applying the wood trim. And always remember to measure, measure, and measure!
7. Try a stone. Natural stone adds a free-standing beauty that elevates a high wall into an accent wall. If your style is a bit rustic, try ledgestone with its inherent color variations and varying depths. By including random protrusions deep enough to set the LED tea light, this stone wall becomes a beautiful surrounding art piece.
8. Mix it up. Using a range of design tricks, this cozy space combines bold vertical art as a focal piece against modern stone cladding, and uses wall sconces that move in an upward path.
Instead of one large panel perched on a tall white wall, there’s a mix of textures and organic colors that elegantly give the large space a relaxed feel.
9. Build a bookcase. If budget allows, consider adding a built-in floor-to-ceiling bookcase with a library ladder, or staggered wood shelves that you can use to display pottery, small paintings, or a treasured collection.
advice: If you live in an area of a violent earthquake or storm, add a 1/8 to 1/4 inch flange to the front of the shelves so items don’t fall forward or slip. Museum putty is also a good way to solidify items.
10. Create shelves. Using shelving to bisect a wall height is a good way to add architectural interest to a flat space.
The combinations and options are almost endless. Play with one or more of the above suggestions to create a room that feels big and comfortable.