Sarah Susanka, author of the popular “Not

So Big” home-design books, devotes lots of space in her eighth book

“Not So Big Remodeling: Tailoring Your Home for the Way You Really

Live,” to ceilings.

She urges owners of homes with vaulted ceilings to consider lowering them so the house has what she calls, “visual layering.”

Ceiling height is something that people

don't understand, Susanka says. If you make all ceiling heights 9 or

10 feet tall, it becomes monotonous.

She recommends differentiating space by

adding soffits that don’t reduce the space, but do define the area and

differentiate it from neighboring areas.

Just as punctuation helps us to extract

the full meaning of a sentence, spatial layering serves the same

function for our eyes, separating the space we're looking at into

bite-sized pieces without obscuring the experience of the whole, she

writes in the book.

In the case of small rooms like powder

rooms, she recommends creating a “beltline,” a horizontal division in

the wall space created with molding or wainscoting that makes the

small, high-ceilinged space feel less like a cell.

Source: Chicago Tribune, Mary Umberger (04/19/2009)