Double Height Living Space

Few architectural features offer the elegance or impact of double-height spaces. In the language of architects, a double-height space is when the ceiling is roughly twice as high as the ceilings in the other rooms, providing homeowners with soaring, open space and striking natural light.

The abundant windows in this double-height room floods the area with natural light and visually connects the room to the outdoors.

Double-height spaces have come in and out of American vogue over the past several decades. In Pre-World War II, a large number of homes had high ceilings—if not double-height—certainly taller than the standard eight feet. Then, in the 1960s and ’70s, many U.S. homeowners abandoned the idea of high ceilings, likely because they were more challenging to heat. In the late 1980s and ’90s, the double-height trend returned and people were once again drawn to the open space and volume. Some attribute the “revival,” in part, to the historic preservation of prewar, high-ceilinged apartment buildings in cities throughout the country at that time. Additionally, during that same period, countless industrial buildings were re-imagined into offices with open, loft-like space and light. Many people who worked in these new, airy spaces liked the openness so much, they wanted to translate that same feel to their homes.

Fun Fact: Fast Company reported that high ceilings “promote a mindset of creativity” and are tied to a psychological “sense of freedom.”

The design of these double-height foyers adds depth to the entry space and reinforces the connection between the first and second floors.
While double-height ceilings are often reserved for foyers and great rooms, they offer open and pleasing tranquility to bedrooms as well.

Today, there are many reasons we introduce double-height space to our clients’ homes. Sometimes, the design decision is based on the scale of the space. If, for example, we create a room that is 30 feet long, a standard eight-foot ceiling would feel rather low—and the space could appear overly vertical or top-heavy. Creating additional volume brings bring depth and dimension to the area, and introduces a scale that feels visually appealing.

The ceiling height in this large gathering room enhances the dramatic scale, while the statement lighting adds to the elegant, cottage aesthetic.

Other times, our designs for double-height space are client-driven. Some people appreciate the impact a double-height ceiling adds to an entry foyer, while others are drawn to the flowing space and natural light of a double-height great room. Some homeowners also recognize that the ceiling height of these rooms offer interesting design options and versatility. If, for instance, we choose to enhance a rustic, country tone, we may introduce reclaimed wooden beams to the room’s ceiling design. Or, to reinforce a beachside, cottage aesthetic, we may include beadboard paneling to add warmth and character to the space.

The dormer windows in this great room create an airy, tranquil space with beautiful natural light.

As we move into this new decade, the double-height room remains a coveted architectural design feature. Whether it’s the flowing, open space, or the wonderful, abundant natural light — for many of us, these rooms represent the height of elegance.