Monday, March 9, 2009

How to deal with soaring ceilings

When we were shopping around for our home, we knew we wanted to build, and finding the perfect model was TOUGH. We are picky, me especially. I wanted something different.

When I found our model, I knew the instant I walked in that this was the one. Our entry, living room, stairway, loft, master bedroom and bathroom and are all open to the top of the house, I've figured at least 25 feet at the highest point.

I was luuurve.

Then we moved in.

I stood in those rooms with massive ceilings and thought:
What the H-E-double-hockey-sticks am I gonna do with all this WALL??

"Wall" was everywhere. I realized decorating this type of house was going to take some creative thinking -- aka -- MOLDING. (You are shocked I know!)

Many of my bloggy friends have been posting about this topic lately with fantastic solutions. I thought I would share some of mine with you over the next couple weeks.

This idea I blatantly stole from our builder. (If you are building a home -- pay attention to how they deal with these issues in the model!!) The tallest wall in our house is in the staircase, and this was my solution:

The builder had three of these huge squares going up the wall, but I value my life people. Standing on the top rung of an eight foot ladder, arms stretched to the max, hammer in hand, nails held between lips (this was pre-nail gun days) was enough of an adventure for me:

Like always, I put my own spin on it and painted the inside of the squares a slightly darker version of the wall color. You'll see this theme throughout the house -- I do this A LOT. (Some of you have asked the name of the darker color and I will have to find the paint chip -- Porter changed their paint names a while back.)

This was my very first molding project EVER. Awww...I know! Sniff. I used an electric handheld saw -- and NOT the circular kind. It was a miniature version of the cut-down-trees kind of saw.
(Disclaimer: NOT a good idea. Just sayin'.)

If you use molding and find rosettes for the corners, you don't have to worry about cutting corners:
The iron pieces have been in the middle forEVER now, but for the past year or so, it's calling out for something different. I'm thinking a huge stencil? Maybe? Ideas?
Do you have a home with big ceilings? Do you love them or hate them? Although they have been a struggle...I do love our open concept. It has made me get creative with my decorating, which is never usually not a bad idea!

P.S. I have a few more changes to make and then I'll show you the molding project I worked on over the weekend! Wooeee!


  1. I just love what you did.
    I have 21 foot ceilings in my bedroom and I just don't know what to do with them. When we moved into this house about 2 yrs ago I love the idea of these ceiling. Now it's the one thing in my house I just can't stand.
    Can't wait to see the pics that will be coming.
    Thanks again for sharing!!!

  2. We have vaulted ceilings in the living room of my apartment and I love it. I don't feel like I need to decorate the wall too much. The apartment has enough character that they work this way.

  3. I'm so excited about seeing your ideas! I love what you did here. I have soaring walls and I hate them, because they are undecorated because I feel like if I decorate one I'll have to decorate them all and that task is so daunting.

  4. It's amazing how I always find answers to my problems on blogs (well, at least decor related problems!!!)! I'm tired of my double story family room wall treatment and was trying to come up with something different and this just might be it!
    Thanks for sharing!

  5. ~Absolutely beautiful! ;0

    I'm with you.
    I love tall ceilings and open spaces.
    The more the better.

  6. I swear you are in my head, lol. We're cleaning up our rental right now, and we are going to repaint. But my sister in law put some really cute vinyl phrases up--scriptures even---and I want to keep them. So I was thinking about putting molding around them, so I can keep them.

    It will be the same idea. The color now, under the vinyl is Oregon coast, but we're going to be painting it a lighter beige, think light chocolate milk. Anyway, I was talking TODAY, wondering how that would look. And here you are again!!

    First the moulding, & now this same idea. How funny. Oooonagi. :)

  7. I had these soaring ceilings in my last home and I loved them. I also just used incredibly large art and it looked wonderful. I love the molding ideas that you've used and I can't wait to see what else you do. Hugs, Marty

  8. I love this! I would totally go with some vinyl design in the middle! It's always fun to change things out just a little. Someone else might not notice the change, but at least it will feel "fresh" to you!

  9. Hi Sarah! I felt exactly the same way when I first walked into my home. I had been living in a 1970's house with no raised ceilings, so the high ceilings seemed wonderful to me. I still love them, but they are hard to decorate around. It's hard to make spaces seem cozy. I have huge recessed squares built into some of the higher parts of the walls. I also painted those about 3 shades darker as a focal point.

    I love all of your molding. For your squares, you could put some decorative architectural pieces in them or something like that. I found some really neat ones I put in my family room at Marshall's.

    Or two big pieces in the ones on top and bottom and then a vinyl saying the middle one. That would be cute! I also have found some really big decorations to take up some of the space. Like I have a huge black tin star in one of the cutouts. I think it is about 6 feet in diameter.

    Have a great night!


  10. I think those look fabulous! You are the QUEEN of moulding, girl. I actually thought those iron pieces WERE stencils at first, until I saw the photographs from the side. They are great, but I'm sure if you want a change, you'll come up with something awesome that we can all copy from! :)

  11. I love what you did with the space! we have a 2-story ceiling in our living room and a HUGE empty wall between that and the dining room. I have no idea what to do with the space! We've been in the house 5 years and it's still builder's primer and bare! This has me thinking!

    I have a love-hate relationship with this space. EVERYONE who comes in our home tells us how much they love our high ceiling and all the space and light (there's a skylight too) we have there. But I hate it in terms of decorating and cleaning.

    Thanks for sharing a great idea!

  12. Our entry way is exactly the same and I love it. I have a huge mirror on my stairway - it looks like my stairway is more open. I love it. Your projects are stunning. Impecable style.

  13. I absolutely love what you did, too! It looks GREAT!

    I am so jealous of your home... it sounds beautiful! I am just trying to get to the point where we can get A home, not even THE home. lol!

    Glad I found you now, though, so that when I finally do find THAT place, I will know how to make it look- can I say it?- CA-UTTTEEE! :)

  14. Our house is the same way! Living Room opens all the way up the stairs to the lofted playroom. I LOVE LOVE LOVE it, but it is a decorating challenge. And in challenge, I mean I've ignored it since we moved in almost a year ago. I'm ready to get started on decorating way up high. I like your moulding idea! I'm looking at my living room right now think that your moulding squares could really work there!

  15. Totally love what you did! We have an open entry way that has looked exactly the same way for, well, forever. I've been wanting to do something different but wasn't sure what would look good.

    This would look fabulous--I love how you paint the inner box darker, it looks just amazing!!

  16. That is brilliant!!! I have that same problem in my stair well area. I am constantly asking my self, what in the world am I gonna put there? Thanks so much for sharing the ideas!!

  17. That really does look fantastic. I love the color in the middle and the iron pieces against it. I am so impressed girl! :)

  18. DON"T change a thing... it's lovely the way it is right now.

    The Blue Ridge Gal

  19. I love what you have in them but I can definitely understand your need for change. I am always thinking of something to change. What about a large (huge) square black picture frame (you could make it) with a square blk and white picture of your son? Then you could get a wall words quote for the top one about family or something. Just a thought. :)

  20. GORG! What a great "work around".

  21. This is so funny. I have very low ceilings and hate them! I also find them hard to decorate around. I am dealing with a 7 1/2 foot ceiling all throughout my house. My home is a rancher that was built in the 60s I feel very challegned by the "low" ceilings!! everyone has something to worry about I guess LOL.

  22. I'm scared of a miter box so the rosette things are a cool idea.
    I like what you did and it looks like the wall of the staircase going up is decorated in a cool way too. Great job.

  23. Great solution! I love the colors you chose!

  24. i love this idea...i immediately sent it to my sister who has this same stair case lay out as you...and then decided it would work on mine too! ! !

    Thank you!

  25. This is such an awesome idea! I have been trying to figure out something to do on our walls and this just might work. :)

  26. Love it! But I'm with you... hanging onto a ladder and trying to nail... not so good, actually!


  27. I have vaulted ceilings, also, and have struggled with how to decorate them. I love what you did with the moldings. Looks fantastic!

  28. I have them and love them but they are difficult and dangerous to work with. I finally got the gigantic drapes have to come and see them!

  29. I LOVE it! Seriously, I'm in love... seriously.

  30. this is so great - i have an itty bitty house with itty bitty walls, but if I DID have tall walls, this idea would be pure genius.

    I found some interesting molding at Michaels - of all places - in the wood section. I'm thinking about using it to make picture frames, but I wanted to get your take on what kind of tools to purchase. I've got nada. What do you suggest?

  31. Wow! Now that's pretty! Do you have like every square inch of your house decorated? Man! I'm a slacker.

  32. I don't have vaulted ceilings (hello townhouse built in 1973, but I still love it), but if I did, I like this idea:

    One large piece of art, with an up-light attached to it's base. Sooooo museum-like!

  33. love this!! Oooh...Love the idea of a big tone-on-tone stencil behind the iron pieces!! You did a fabulous job!
    kari & kijsa

  34. I like that idea, its a good solution to the issue of soaring ceilings

  35. I really like your solution to the high ceilings :) If you're wanting to change the center detail, I think it might be nice to add a more bold design - less scrolly & defined.

  36. I just found your blog... I've admired your photos on rate my space for a long time. I was looking at your blog thinking... this looks familar then I realized. So glad you have a blog!

  37. Love what you did in the stairwell! Very nice.

    I have a two-story foyer that I thought I would like before I moved in, too. I spent most of last week up on scaffolding, painting the foyer, trimming around the 2nd-story window, adding crown molding, and replacing the chandelier. It was a huge job, and the mantra of the week became, "I will never have a two-story room in a house I live in again!" Ha.

  38. Actually, I should specify that I spent most of last week HELPING MY HUSBAND do all those things on the scaffolding. Sounded like I did it all myself. He's the carpenter in our house, though. I'm just the assistant who hands him things and holds up one end of the molding while he nails the other to the wall. :-)

  39. This is one of the projects I'm doing this weekend--and I'm def. thinking stencils in the middle--I want to find the Family definition wall quote for mine...that may work for yours too?


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