Decorating Walls With Really High Ceilings
Today’s reader’s question comes from Laura, and she needs help decorating the walls with vaulted ceilings in her kitchen and entrance. Here’s what she has to say.…
I have high ceilings in the large living room and kitchen, and I do not know what to do with them in the kitchen and entrance. Kitchen cabinets rise only halfway. What should I do with the size of the wall above the cabinets?
Nothing can be hung on either side of the front door if the artwork rattles and falls. I made a template around the door, but it looks pretty simple. Any idea?
In my previous email, I realized that I was asking you for advice on two areas-the kitchen and the entrance. I should have split them into two different emails and given you extra pictures so you can see the whole living room. So, let me try again!
The ground floor of our house has high ceilings which I love. However, I do not know how to decorate the entrance wall. Unfortunately, I can’t hang on to it because it’s a busy traffic zone, the wall collides and the artworks fall. I finally gave up and stenciled the wall. Can you give me some advice? I would appreciate your thoughts on the whole show. (Also, I would love hardwood floors throughout the area, but I’m afraid it will echo.)
Laura’s kitchen, dining room, entrance and living room:
Here’s Laura’s kitchen with the problem wall. The kitchen cabinets are of standard height, leaving this large expanse of wall above the cabinets. She finds it difficult to decorate the walls with vaulted ceilings in her kitchen.
On the other hand, this is the Cabinet area with the same piece of wall above the cabinets.
To the left of the red wall with the cupboards is this breakfast room.
This is Laura’s problematic entrance where she first tried to hang artwork, but gave up on this idea when things fell down when the door was closed. So instead, she went with a stencil drawing.
And you can see that on the right side of the entrance is the breakfast room in the kitchen, which means that the red wall of the kitchen is seen from the entrance.
Laura has these high walls and high ceilings in the large living room.
And here we can see where the door leads to the right of the red wall of the kitchen. It leads to the dining room.
And the dining room and the living room are open to each other, the back wall of the living room with a standard height (seems to me 8 feet).
So, the high walls of this area are on this wall of the living room, the opposite wall of the dining room and the whole side with the entrance.
I agree that decorating walls with vaulted ceilings can be very difficult, especially in areas like these above kitchen cabinets. So when it comes to the kitchen, I don’t think the problem is that you have to find a way to decorate the expanse of the wall above the kitchen cabinets. I think the problem is the color of the wall. Because this wall has such a high ceiling and has such a striking color, this wall space above the cabinets automatically becomes the focal point of the kitchen. And since this is what your eye is immediately attracted to, and it is a bare wall with the exception of a clock, you feel obliged to decorate it so that when your eye is drawn there, you have something interesting and decorative to look at.
But personally, I think that’s the wrong approach. If this were my project, I would paint on red with the same neutral color as on the other walls, and this way your eye will be drawn back to the kitchen cabinets, which are usually the focal point of a kitchen.
You can see how this red wall with the cabinets is very different from this opposite neutral wall with the cabinets.
On this wall, because there is no red that goes up to the ceiling, your eye is not drawn to the ceiling to mark the extent of the wall. Instead, the eye is focused on the cabinets and the artwork above. I don’t really think it’s necessary to fill the space above the kitchen cabinets, but I realize that some people like to decorate there. So once the wall is neutral, and if you still want things up there, keep your decoration more relative to the cabinets (i.e., keep things above and near the top of the cabinets) rather than feeling the need to fill as much space as possible.
As an example, if you want to keep the decor you have on the top of the cabinets in the image above, I think the horizontal illustration should be lowered a bit so that all the elements above it look like a composition, rather than the framed illustration just floating, as if trying to take up space.
Anyway, it’s a really bad photo editing job, but you can see how the red catches your eye, while a neutral one would allow you to focus on the cabinets.
And if you want to go even further, so that kitchen cabinets catch the eye, you can do two things. And if it were my house, I would do both of them, but I realize that these are two projects that many people would find overwhelming, so it is definitely not necessary.
First of all, I want to expand the tops of the cabinets so that they end at the top of the lower parts of the wall.
This project requires (1) removing the existing top molding, (2) adding a board horizontally on top to this point on the sidewall, (3) adding a small trim to the joint where the original top of the cabinet face meets the new board, and (4) reattaching the top molding. It was one of the first projects I remember seeing Layla and Kevin do at the Lettered Cottage in their first home. That was many years ago, and I will never forget the difference it made. I can’t find the tutorial they did, but you can see the before and after here.
And secondly, you can paint your kitchen cabinets in a color other than white. If this was my kitchen, I would do it like this. It’s a big job, but well done, you only have to do it once. And that would certainly make the cabinets the centerpiece of this kitchen, and no one would think of that expanse of the wall above it. But, of course, this is definitely not necessary.