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Ceiling Height Variety

By Paul Sharp

Christopher Alexander wrote A Pattern Language, a master work outlining over 250 rules of thumb that affect home design. In this series of articles, we've highlighted some of our favorite patterns.

190.0 Ceiling Height variety

"A building in which the ceiling heights are all the same is virtually incapable of making people comfortable. In some fashion, low ceilings make for intimacy, high ceilings for formality. Therefore:  Vary the ceiling heights continuously throughout the building, especially between rooms which open into each other, so that the relative intimacy of different spaces can be felt. In particular, make ceilings high in rooms hwich are public or meant for large gatherings (10 to 12 feet) lower in rooms for smaller gatherings (7 to 9 feet), and very low in rooms or alcoves for one or two people (6 to 7 feet)."

Over the past decade, typical ceiling heights have increased from a standard of eight feet tall to nine or even ten feet. However, using modern construction methods, ceiling heights tend to be uniform on a particular floor. You can vary the height by lowering the ceiling for small spaces, or use soffits along the edges of rooms, and coffers to add visual interest and texture to the ceiling. There is no reason that ceilings have to be bland or boring.

Reprinted with permission. Get Your House Right. On The Level, Volume 12, Issue 9, September, 2007, Page 4

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