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Why do our brains like high ceilings?

High ceilings are a highly desirable architectural feature. But why? And what’s so bad about normal ceiling heights?

We like high ceilings because of their association with grand interiors or properties from certain periods, such as houses from the Georgian era. Walking into a hotel lobby with lofty ceilings will add anticipation of just how luxury your guest experience will be. And a cathedral’s vaulted ceiling will raise your eyes, and thoughts, to heaven.

But likewise, high ceilings can make a room feel cold or empty. The room may lack warmth or make you feel uncomfortable and exposed. A large foyer in an office building can feel intimidating or clinical. Or maybe the room just lacks the appropriate proportions to warrant a high ceiling and therefore feels ‘wrong’.

There have been several studies that have looked at our relationship with ceilings height. One suggests that we find high ceilings more beautiful because we associate them with freedom. Whereas lower ceilings seem to stimulate better decision making perhaps in response to feeling confined and in need of an exit strategy.

This is all because of a concept called ‘priming‘ which activates different thought-processing in the brain. In other words, ceiling height can change how we think.

The upshot of this information is that both high ceilings and ceilings of a normal height can be beneficial to a workplace or retailer, depending on how you want to workers or customers to behave.

Use ceiling height to create different working environments or to influence how we want our customers to behave.

Hotels may want to promote a sense of freedom and escapism for their customers, with high ceilings inspiring the possibilities of their stay. Retailers may also want their customers to feel inspired but would a more typical ceiling height encourage decision making and lead to a purchase better?

An ideal office environment would offer different spaces for when a worker needs to be creative and expansive in their thinking, perhaps problem-solving with colleagues. But when that report’s deadline is looming, getting your head down in a lower-ceiling environment could help improve focus.

How to make your ceiling look higher

  • Draw the eye to the highest point by hanging curtains/blinds at the top of the wall, not just the top of the window.
  • Choose furniture with a low profile. Avoid high back sofas and chairs. Low-profile will create a greater expanse of space between the top of the furniture and the ceiling. Conversely, you can include high profile pieces such as a tall shelving unit. This contrast of height with your low profile seating will also create a similar sense of expansive space.
  • Paint your ceiling the same colour as the walls. Lighter colours work better but so do gloss paints as they will reflect the light making the ceiling feel higher.
  • Avoid clutter and overfilling a room as this detracts from the sense of space.

How to make your ceiling look lower

  • Use darker colours on the ceiling. If you combine this with a picture rail at you desired ceiling height, paint the walls the same colour as the ceiling down to this rail.
  • Hang suspended lighting at lower heights to bring the focus down from the ceiling height. You can use this same trick with hanging/trailing plants.
  • Bigger furniture will fill a room with a high ceiling and give a better sense of scale.

Plants are a great way to emphasise an area that you want to draw focus to. You can use tall plants to raise the eye-line or to create contrast with low-profile furniture. Wall-mounted displays can also define the height of a room and hanging plants can be used to create a floating ceiling at whatever height you wish. Floor-standing pots with bushy foliage are a great way to keep the focus lower.

Floresy offers exciting solutions to your interior needs. Get in touch today.

 

 

Aneto Case Study: Collaboration with Ink Inch

It is always a pleasure to work with Ink Inch Design Studios. Our latest collaboration with Ink Inch was on refurbishing new premises for cafe venture, Aneto.

Aneto is a cafe, restaurant, and bar located in East Dulwich, London. Its Italian-inspired, health-conscious menu includes a good variety of vegetarian and vegan dishes as well as organic wines and beers. They serve “Breakfast & Brunch, Coffee & Cocktails, Dinner & Drinks”. The premises on the East Dulwich Road was in need of a complete renovation before Aneto could open. A total overhaul of the 150 square meters old pub was required to turn it into a fresh and inviting cafe. The project began in November 2017 and completed in February 2018.

A Kitchen Garden

From the beginning, Ink Inch and Aneto owner, Damiano, knew ‘green’ was going to be an important theme. “We wanted to give a garden vibe to the place, with a lot of green almost everywhere,” says Francesca, designer at Ink Inch. “We already knew the quality of the Floresy plants so we thought that would be a good fit for us.”

Floresy was brought on board as both supplier and plant consultant.

The result is a balmy outdoor feel. The fresh greens in a bright space set against the natural brick walls. Just like being in a sunny kitchen courtyard garden.

The wall panels have been painted white with individual planks of blue in an effective but budget-friendly scheme. The blues repeat in the furniture, most of which has been repainted and restored.

Small plants, simple shelving and bare brick walls.

Fresh Blues

White and tones of blue keep the decor fresh and bright. The painted-white wall panelling has highlights of individual planks in varying shades of blue. This is an effective but budget-friendly scheme. The blues repeat in the repainted and restored furniture. The natural wood elements and punches of green give a grounded and natural vibe to the design. Simple and wholesome. The floor space is maximised by keeping the area uncluttered. The decoration is minimal, capitalising on the wall space to add interest and personality.

Blue highlights on bar area of a cafe

Highlights individual planks with differing shades of blue

Eatery Greenery

The bespoke wooden shelving that surrounds the kitchen doors creates a valuable space. The jars filled with ingredients plus Floresy herbs, grasses, and succulents in small pots suggest the cafe’s identity almost as much as the menu. The result is a larder like display that introduces the kitchen area. Fresh and honest ingredients therefore healthy and authentic food. In addition, the variety of plants and of their containers adds texture. It is informal and functional as well as being decorative.

Bespoke wooden shelving door surround kitchen larder

Shelving unit gives identity. This is an eatery with fresh and quality produce.

Ingredients succulents herbs in jars and pots on wooden shelf in cafe

Ingredients and Floresy plants in simple pots. This is an honest and authentic restaurant.

The recessed shelf along the back wall adds height to the room. The up-lit plants invite you deeper into the cafe, past the bar and into the main seating area. Especially as the numerous grasses in small pots are sitting against the brick wall. Are they playing with the perspective and depth of the room?

Commercial coffee shop design artificial plants, collaboration with Ink Inch Design on Aneto Deli

Recessed and uplight shelf unit along the back wall contains Floresy’s

Ready for business

In conclusion, Aneto is a vibrant and inviting space. Its ambience is that of a bustling kitchen and steaming coffee machines. How easy it is to imagine the buzz of family and friends enjoying each other’s company.

Ink Inch is a London-based team of interior and graphic designers. Combing both disciplines creates unity of visual elements. They adopt a simple and holistic approach to their work. All projects are met with “passion, love, and positivity“. We look forward to our next collaboration with Ink Inch.

You can find out more about our artificial flower design services here. Or you can instead read our dedicated sub-page about artificial plants for restaurants.