This article has been written and researched by Andrei Vasilief (a professional architect and interior designer) for maximum factual accuracy and to provide unique content.
A bedroom with a high ceiling is often considered to be very luxurious.
But this sought-after feature can become a problem when the bedroom itself has a small floor area because when decorated incorrectly, the room can feel cold, empty, cluttered, and hostile.
So how do you decorate a small bedroom with a high ceiling so that it feels warm and cozy, but doesn’t lose its luxurious appeal?
The best way to decorate a small bedroom with a high ceiling is to follow the rule of thirds to create balance and symmetry; whilst incorporating hanging light fittings for coziness, a lighting system to create depth, a feature wall for personality, and a textured ceiling to add comfort.
The rest of this article explains in precise detail how to apply these principles to decorate your small bedroom with a high ceiling to make it feel more inviting.
A worked example is used throughout that incorporates mock-ups so that you can see how I would personally walk my clients through the design process step by step.
How to Decorate a Small High Ceiling Bedroom
Below are 8 ways to decorate a small bedroom with a high ceiling – they work best when they are all used together (but you can extract techniques as you see fit):
1: Apply the Rule of Thirds to Create Balance
The rule of thirds has its roots in architectural design, where it’s commonly used to create coherent facade designs.
Applying the rule of thirds to a small bedroom with a high ceiling can simplify the decorating process, create balance, formulate symmetry and stop your bedroom from feeling like a cave:
- Measure the height of the room (or use the window’s top ridge as the cutting-off point).
- Divide the height of the room into three segments.
- The first two segments from the floor are the ‘’work area’’ where you can decorate and play.
- The top part should be left ‘as is’ to create a clean, coherent look.
The rule of thirds is the key takeaway from this article and the most valuable piece of advice that can be given when it comes to small bedrooms with high ceilings.
All the other steps will be based, and come complementary, to the rule of thirds.
1.1: Example of Using the Rule of Thirds to Create Balance
Once you’ve divided up your small bedroom walls into thirds, you can begin to decorate them accordingly.
Below is an example involving artwork, windows, and furniture.
Align the Wall Art With the Window Frame
The simplest way to make the rule of thirds work for you in a small bedroom with a high ceiling is to align the top of the window frame with the top of the wall art to create clean lines and proportion as shown in the image below:
Cover 2/3 of the Wall Height With a Wardrobe
If possible, try to find a wardrobe that’s sized so that it covers 2/3 of the wall height so that it lines up with the artwork and the window frame to create a coherent look and avoid a jumbled arrangement, as shown in the image below:
2: Hang a Statement Light Fixture for Coziness
A beautiful, hanging light fixture is a fantastic way of topping off the room and making it feel cozier, and bringing in a reasonable amount of style.
When decorating newly bought apartments, my clients’ core complaint has been that they would love to use hanging lights, but the low height of the ceiling makes them both impractical and hazardous.
So, if you are fortunate enough to own a bedroom with a high ceiling, using a prominent hanging light fixture is one of the best design ideas you can use.
Ideally, this light fixture should fill the top third of the room, with the possibility of hanging even lower than that.
Style-wise, there are two principles to follow:
Firstly, circular is a shape that works so often that it might as well be your go-to solution.
Round light fixtures give more elegance and make the bedroom feel cozier.
Secondly, the smaller the bedroom, the simpler the light fixture should be.
The same is also true for the opposite principle: the larger the bedroom, the more ornate the light fixture can be.
But when in doubt, keeping things simple always works.
A final thing to remember is that if you decide to go for an imposing chandelier, all other light fixtures (such as the bedside lamps) should be as simple as possible.
This ensures that you don’t clutter the room.
2.1: Example of a Chandelier Statement Light Fixture
High ceilings are excellent news for chandelier lovers, as they allow much more flexibility in terms of using an elaborate light fixture.
They are handy in terms of letting your imagination go and picking out something more luxurious.
Here you have a classic example:
A beautiful chandelier is placed centrally over the bed to frame the decor.
This is always a great go-to solution for a small bedroom with a high ceiling as it adds style and luxury to the room.
Regarding fixture choice, almost anything works, but round shapes tend to work better than rectangular.
This is because a round chandelier contrasts with a rectangular room, creating a more interesting visual combination.
The chandelier should also fit into the rule of thirds as well.
The example showcases this and the light being framed between the top end of the windows and the ceiling.
3: Use a Lighting System to Create Depth
Light is essential, and a well-thought-out lighting system can take any room from simple to extraordinary, but this is even more important in the case of small bedrooms with high ceilings because well-placed light sources can add so much more to the room.
However, this is not the most straightforward implementation, and to achieve this, you need to have some basic knowledge of how interior lighting works.
Interior lights are divided into three categories:
The ambient light is the primary light source, which is usually the ceiling light.
Task light in the bedroom will generally be the bedside lamps.
These are firmly fixed in this type of room.
The way to approach light design in a bedroom with high ceilings is to use ambient light sources and task light sources that project upwards and downwards instead of relying just on downward projection.
This fills the room with light and takes advantage of the room’s volume, further adding depth to the room and bringing it to life at night.
Nighttime is crucial for bedrooms, as it plays a key role in making us feel comfortable, contributing to the sleep process.
Thus, investing in a good light system is an excellent idea, as it can positively affect your overall health.
3.1: Example of a Lighting System in a High Ceiling Bedroom
Here we have two simple lamps – so we don’t clutter the room and leave the chandelier as the most important looking piece – but the essential feature is that they project their light upwards.
This showcases the windows and elevates them.
Now let’s move on to the more complicated accent light.
This can be quite powerful because just like a room with a high ceiling, it’s quite rare to see in a contemporary building, which focuses a lot more on being pragmatic and straightforward.
In this particular room, we have two architectural details: the ceiling and wall moldings.
The ceiling molding has two components: the molding on the side and the central element:
The wall has two sets of moldings, with the top being left open:
We start by placing a series of light sources at the base of the prominent moldings, placed centrally.
These look simple – a series of bars that fit neatly into the overall design without standing out as shown below:
So far, so good – now let’s look at the ceiling.
This is no exception; we follow the rule of thirds and place a series of spotlights that project light upwards.
Please note that we could also use spotlights that project both up and down, but the effect wouldn’t be as dramatic as using two light sources.
We distribute the top spotlights evenly, spreading them throughout the room.
We focus on the end molding, as projecting the light on the central one would be quite complex and costly.
Below, we can see that the light added a significant depth and some wow factor to the design:
The top spotlights have a stronger light so that it bounces off the ceiling and fills the room, creating a fantastic atmosphere:
The bottom accent lights’ goal is to add depth to the wall, generating a strong effect that brings it to life:
4: Accentuate Architectural Details With Light
If your small bedroom has beautiful or attractive architectural details – such as a wooden structure, or wall decorations – then using light to highlight and accentuate these features is an excellent way of bringing life into the bedroom.
This step is a continuation of the previous, where we discussed the basics of creating a great lighting system for your bedroom.
Here we will discuss accent lights, the final part of the light system.
Usually, there are only a few decorative features in a bedroom: either on the ceiling (such as exposed beams or ceiling moldings) or on the walls (panel molding, for example).
Please note that one does not necessarily exclude the other; it’s perfectly viable to have both.
Either way, the simplest way to approach accentuating this feature is by having light fixtures that point upwards, projecting the light onto the element.
There are slight variations in how we approach lighting features on the wall versus the ceiling.
The most effective implementation for the wall would be to set an even number of light sources based on the element you want to highlight.
So, let’s say you have a panel molding on the wall that you think would be a good fit.
Set two light sources at the bottom portion, with some space left between the panel and the light source.
It’s essential for the ceiling that the lighting is uniform and covers as much of the ceiling area as possible.
Keep in mind to avoid having dark spots.
So, if you are lighting a flat roof, it’s best to have an even number of light sources distributed around the ceiling that project upwards.
If, on the other hand, you are trying to light something more complex, like a wooden structure, then you need to have several different lights distributed throughout the design, as evenly as possible, to leave as few dark areas.
This is trickier than with a simple flat ceiling, but it’s very much worth the effort as the final effect can indeed add something special.
5: Create a Feature Wall to Add Personality
Generally, it’s not the best idea to fill up small bedrooms with wall decorations, as it can lead to creating clutter which makes for an uncomfortable space.
But in bedrooms with high ceilings, we have the option of putting all the wall decorations on a single wall, arranged in a geometric pattern to create a feature wall.
A good thing to keep in mind with feature walls in small bedrooms is that the bigger the decorative element, the better.
But, if you have multiple smaller pieces, then it’s good to rely on this feature to bring everything together and create a coherent whole.
Take all the artwork pieces you have and choose either a free wall or a free part of the wall.
Create a mental frame, with the edges of the frame offset from the edges of the wall.
Ideally, you want to synchronize this frame’s edges with other architectural features, such as the windows’ top portion.
This will be the workspace, and here you can fill the area with the pieces you have.
The more details, the more creative you can get.
You need to find a proper balance between the number of pieces, their dimensions, and the wall’s size.
As long as you stay within boundaries, don’t be afraid to explore and let your creativity run wild.
6: Fill Large Spaces With Artwork to Create Focus
Using large artwork to fill wall space is another excellent option, but just like using light to accentuate, it’s not the simplest solution, primarily due to the cost.
Large pieces can be quite expensive and difficult to find.
But if you can obtain one, it’s the perfect option.
The ideal artwork will have proportions that fit within your bedroom, so it’s essential to find something that’s not overly high, which further enhances the room’s height.
Still, at the same time, it’s necessary to find something that’s not too broad, as it can look a bit out of place.
Because it can be quite tricky to visualize how the piece fits, when you find something that you think is appropriate, draw it out on the wall using paper tape.
This is a particular type of tape that doesn’t leave marks on the wall, and you can use it to draw out how the piece will fit, making it by far the best solution.
6.1: Example of Using Artwork to Fill Wall Space
Because the room already has decoration, we focus on putting the pieces in the open spaces between the windows.
Also, we focus on using the same artwork with the same color palette: black and white.
This is difficult to do, but if possible, it can add that extra bit of style.
Let’s start with the space over the bed.
We put a single, large piece here, a definitive solution that works in almost any case:
We respect the general proportion of the windows and the rule of thirds, fitting everything together in a pleasant manner.
We don’t add any more pieces here, as not to create clutter.
Regarding the other space, we have a series of smaller pieces that we wish to use, so we decide to create a feature wall.
We ensure to use similar frames and fit them together in a geometric layout:
This makes them work as one and avoids making them look cluttered.
We don’t place any other artwork on the wall with the moldings to not take away from the decor.
The result is a unique design, color-coordinated but not overly so, filled with personal touches and a purer architectural feeling.
7: Ground the Room With a Large Area Rug
Area rugs are incredible for small spaces in general, but they are even more helpful in small bedrooms with high ceilings as they can adjust the feeling of spaciousness by grounding the design.
High ceilings also pose particular unique challenges in the sense that space can feel destructured and floating.
This comes primarily from the fact that we are not used to high ceilings.
From the 1950s onwards, having a room with a high ceiling became rarer.
Even high-end homes today might have standard height ceilings.
An area rug accentuates the contrast between the floor and the ceiling, creating a grounding effect that provides some much-needed structure to the room.
7.1: Example of Grounding a High Ceiling Bedroom With an Area Rug
This wooden floor has a strong herringbone pattern so we choose an area rug that mirrors the color quite well, adding a bit of detail without being too overwhelming.
This adds more texture to the floor but in a subtle way:
8: Texture the Ceiling to Create Cozy Comfort
This is a more specific solution based upon creating an effect that makes the ceiling feel lower and making the bedroom feel a bit cozier.
The fundamental idea is that the ceiling is painted in a color that contrasts with the walls, preferably a stronger contrast.
One of the critical problems you might encounter in a bedroom with a high ceiling is that the space can feel too big.
By their nature, bedrooms need to be calming spaces that create an intense sensation of comfort, running a bit in antithesis with a higher ceiling.
Traditionally, rooms with higher ceilings are better-suited to dayrooms dedicated to family activities.
If you have this problem of feeling a bit lost in the space, then this is one way you can fix it.
Another one was also discussed previously, adding a statement light fixture.
Essentially, you want to paint the ceiling a different, contrasting color to the walls.
So, for example, if your walls are merely white, a light-to-dark gray color on the ceiling will have this effect.
The basic principles are that you want the ceiling color to be darker (but not overly dark) than the walls, with a color that matches.
So, dark grey or blue works well with white walls.
Also, avoid stark and bright colors, such as reds or yellows.
8.1: Example of Texturing the Ceiling to Create Cozy Comfort
We already have a ceiling with molding and a statement chandelier, so we can’t add too much without overwhelming the senses.
We settle on a light blue, still strong, but not overly so.
This fits quite well with the floor and makes sure that the room doesn’t become too serious, injecting a dose of playfulness into the environment:
Retain the Luxury Whilst Creating a Cozy Feel
High ceilings are not easy to tackle, as you can probably tell from what we discussed.
A significant amount of what we presented here relies on design theory that is not readily accessible.
This is why we rely on design principles that we exemplify in application in a case scenario.
This should prepare you for tackling this design challenge.
In the end, having a bedroom with a high ceiling falls more in the category of luxury and, as such, deserves the treatment of tacking this space to the next level and bringing out every bit of beauty that it can offer.
Never forget to make the space yours and tailor it to you.
These principles are not set in stone; they should be experimented with and expanded upon, so you should always aim to get creative and build on everything you learn in this article to make the room yours.
Also, to remember, a room should feel amazing both during the day and the night, and this is doubly important for bedrooms.
Turning on the light should bring even more life into your room, not take away from it.
Bedrooms are intimate spaces that should calm and soothe us, and light plays a remarkable role in this aspect.
Image Attribution and Licencing
All images created by Andrei Vasilief from Animo Regis and used with permission.
Dan is the founder and head content creator at Bedroom Style Reviews.
He has been working as a professional online product reviewer since 2015 and was inspired to start this website when he ended up sleeping on a memory foam mattress that was too soft and gave him backache.
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