Each week, Mansion Global tackles a topic with an elite group of designers from around the world who work on luxury properties. This week, we look at making the most of double-height walls.
A vast wall space is the ultimate blank canvas to get creative.
“It allows you to play with proportions of furniture, art and lighting in a fun way,” said Christina Simon, senior designer at Mark Ashby Design in Austin, Texas. “Interior designers often try to evoke a sense of luxury and grandeur in smaller spaces through the play of light and color, but when the ceilings already give you that larger scale, much of the work is done for you,” she says.
For ideas on creating wall-to-wall interest, follow these tips from the design pros.
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Play With Proportions
“Double-height walls reflect more light—in the evening, there is room for creating dramatic moments with shadows when you have all that space to play with. And the light gets a more diffused cast of shadow versus the sharper, acute shadows that come with lower ceilings.
“Because the space is so vast, you can use darker colors without compromising the perceived scale of a space. Darker colors make a room feel cozier but can also make a space feel smaller. When you have double-height walls, you get to play with moodier tones and there’s still a lightness. The added natural light flowing around from larger windows can highlight your color selection and give it depth.
“Allow the eye to wander up without feeling ungrounded. Having shelving is a great way to keep some attention at eye level. That said, don’t lose the experience of the airiness of elevated ceilings, so when doing decorative shelving, we oversize some of the objects and scale it up for dramatic effect.
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“Uplights and unusual lighting ideas can be fun to play with when the ceilings are high so that shadows disperse in a broader way.
“Because what is on the ground has to interact with the vastness of above, you can be bolder with statements. Colorful graphic tile, oversized and bold rugs—all of these things do well in spaces with double-height walls as they don’t have to compete, but rather collaborate.”
— Christina Simon, senior designer at Mark Ashby Design in Austin, Texas
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Add Art in Interesting Ways
“Double-height walls and ceilings typically make a space seem larger while creating an airy feeling within the space. The vast space also provides more room on a wall to really showcase bold art or create a custom eye-catching focal point.
“With more space to feature art, you can stack art pieces vertically, choose larger-scale pieces to fill the space or feature a vertical sculptural installation that adds interest and depth.
“For an unexpected twist, we recently created a custom-designed flower wall made out of corian white onyx and each flower was in-lit to provide a glow for a client’s dining room. It provides a beautiful focal point, and with the soft glow of the 3-D flowers, it creates depth and visual interest to the tall wall.
“Plaster walls are a great way to add a subtle textural look that creates interest versus a flat painted wall. Wallpaper is another decorative way to showcase a bold pattern or design that can create a focal point.”
— Nina Magon of Nina Magon Studio in Houston
Let in Natural Light
“If you have double the windows for double the height, the luxury of extra daylight is a game-changer. People underestimate how much light is integral to design. Washing a space with natural light during the day, and the atmospheric glow of the city at night, provides dynamic context for a home that no architectural or decorative lighting can replicate.
“Clients often think they have to decide between a colorful room or a typical white box space. But the truth is there is an infinite rainbow of whites and beiges, and each one can have a drastically different impact on the space. Our go-to color is Farrow & Ball’s Wimborne White—it has just the right balance of warm and cool tones to signal warm comfort while still feeling modern.”
— Christine Gachot of Gachot Studios in New York
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Vary the Scale
“Having a double-height wall makes a room feel more spacious. It allows the opportunity to hang eye-catching light fixtures and larger-scale art, which elevate the whole space.
“Think about where you might need to fill a gap between furniture. Don’t be afraid to go low and do some unexpected things like hang art under a window frame or sconce—play with your heights and scale.
“I like to have fun with paint and wallpaper. If you are worried about it being too drastic, start in a smaller room like a powder where you can go bolder with less impact on the rest of the home.”
— Kirsten Blazek of a1000xbetter, a design firm based in Los Angeles
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