Low ceilings endow a feeling of intimacy and very often of expectation–as they almost always come with a darkened room, a den of some sort. If you have to lower your head as you walk over the threshold, moving from a high area to a lower room you have to make a physical as well as a mental and emotional adjustment. Would these feelings be as intense if the ceiling height were normal?
Even without Tahir Shah’s wonderfully evocative writing, I don’t think so.
“Inside, the ceiling is low, cobwebbed, and the shelves beneath it cluttered with treasure. There are ancient Berber chests, silver teapots, ebony footstools, and swords once used by warring tribes, and cartons of postcards left by the French, Box Brownie cameras, candlesticks, silk wedding belts, and camel headdresses crafted from indigo wool.” Introduction to: Marrakesh: Through Writers’ Eyes
High ceilings imbue a sense of well being, of openness and possibility, and in the home at least one space somewhere with a high ceiling brings both air and light into the whole building. The full height space of a stairway is a case in point – when the upper space is limited or closed off, the atmosphere of the ground floor is changed.
It’s usually a good feeling to be a small person in a large, high space, but it can, if the space isn’t welcoming, feel intimidating. Perhaps any intimidation depends on the individual and the mood, both of the place and current the state of mind, however most people prefer lower spaces for sleeping and for studying than for eating and entertaining, for example.
It’s much easier to lower a ceiling than to raise it – even without structural intervention, soft lowering with drapes, hangings and tenting is all possible. And lowering light fittings so that the intensity of light is approx. two thirds up, so that light at the higher level is reduced to shadow makes a big difference.