11/109 Oxford St, Collingwood (realestate.com.au)
In real estate, high ceilings are a big selling point. “Soaring”, “towering”; these are common adjectives to describe anything above the average 2.7m ceiling. Besides being a rare feature in most properties, high ceilings are valuable also because of the psychological benefits to the people living or working under them.
High ceilings encourage us to think more freely, enhancing creative thinking.
A study conducted in Texas in 2007 found that 8-feet (2.4metre) ceilings activated confinement-related concepts, while taller 10-feet (3metre) ceilings encouraged better freedom-related tasks. In another experiment, participants in high-ceilinged rooms were able to create more abstract solutions than their low-ceilinged counterparts.
High ceilings also capture our attention and get us interested in observing the space around us, which is particularly common in hotel lobbies to create a good first impression. In homes with multiple rooms, those with higher ceilings tend to establish more formal social zones, such as the living and dining rooms.
In inner Melbourne, higher ceilings (3metres and above) are particularly common in warehouses, some period terraces and a smaller proportion of new developments. It may (or may not!) be a coincidence that a lot of creative co-working spaces are located within warehouse conversions, whose soaring ceilings would encourage a liberated mindset, according to the Texas study.
But just like anything else, high ceilings don’t suit every room in a house. For example, imagine yourself in a small bathroom – if the ceiling is 4metres high, you’d almost feel like you were at the bottom of a well, the opposite of what you’d feel in a living room of the same height. The proportion of a room’s height should match its area to avoid negative spatial connotations like this. This includes avoiding ceilings that are too high (there is such a thing!) especially in a home, where a room can no longer feel cosy.
If you’re looking to buy or rent your next home or office, keep this in mind – high ceilings go a long way, in more ways than one!
Joan Meyers-Levy & Rui Zhu, 2007. The Influence of Ceiling Height: The Effect of Priming on the Type of Processing That People Use, Journal of Consumer Research, Vol.34.
Sally Augustine Ph.D., 2010. Looking Up: Ceilings influence us psychologically.