Why Do Old Houses Have Low Ceilings? (Pros & Cons)

Last Updated on October 9, 2022 by Barry Gray

why are ceilings so low in england

Sometimes when exploring an old building or purchasing a house of old age, you might find the low ceiling unfamiliar. Modern housing includes higher ceilings to create more openness and space. However, a low ceiling is not the end-all. There are architectural ways to take advantage of this low but charming ceiling to best decorate your home.

The low ceilings in old homes, typically 8’ or less, enabled the improvement of insulation and heating systems like a fireplace. In addition, the lowered ceilings allow heat to fill a room much quicker, which explains its high popularity in England buildings to counter the consistent cool weather.

Low ceilings can still be found in some rich architectural houses today! So, even though the space within might be slightly limited, the lowered ceiling will not put you at a disadvantage of charmingly decorating your newly acquired home. But, first, let us look at the history of low ceilings, ways to counter the height with furniture, and their pros and cons.

When Were Low Ceilings Introduced Into Architecture?

low ceiling bedroom

Architects firstly introduced this evolution of ceilings in New England during the 1700s. People measured the ceilings during those years to be 8′ or lower. This adjustment to the ceilings enabled fireplaces to heat rooms more efficiently, countering the consistent chilly England weather.

So, this structure provided better insulation and heat systems. This design was also a convenient choice as people were shorter during those revolutionary years. However, buildings that stick to the same structure nowadays may be inconvenient for people on the taller spectrum.

Besides this historical ceiling style, it is also economical as the lowered ceilings allow for smaller staircases and smaller houses in general, leaving no wasted space.

This architectural choice will save some cost if you wish to renovate or construct a new house. You can also save cost on energy as it will take less time to warm or cool rooms with a low ceiling.

The Pros And Cons Of A Low Ceiling

low ceiling

Like most things in the world, there are some advantages and disadvantages to having low ceilings in your home. We will be summarizing both the pros and cons of having a lowered ceiling to help you better understand what you will be getting into when encountering this type of architectural style.

Here are the pros of a low ceiling in a house.

  • Lowered construction costs
  • Low budget for heating or cooling systems
  • Improved insulation
  • Unique styling and cozy feel

Here are the cons of a low ceiling house.

  • Less space
  • Inconvenient for tall individuals
  • Waste of cooling or heating

Certain people, excluding their height, find tall ceilings discomforting or a waste of space and money. Therefore, deciding your ceiling height comes to personal preference and the stylistic vision you wish to achieve when furnishing your house.

Interior Design Tips And Tricks With A Low Ceiling

Even with a lowered ceiling, there are plenty of ways of turning this petite height into a lovely addition. In addition, there are some interior design tips and tricks that will help you achieve the most out of your 8′ ceiling to make your home look both charming and beautiful.

When looking at lighting choices, it is best to avoid hanging lights as this would hang way too low, wasting a lot of space. Instead, professionals advise looking at wall-mounted lights, providing efficient lighting, and saving you space. However, hanging lighting is not impossible because this type of lighting style can work if a light has short extensions.

With windows and doors, you can create an illusion that will make your ceiling appear taller than it is. For example, placing your curtains below the ceiling will add extra height. In addition, drapes will provide more height than blinds. 

Even the pattern on the fabric affects this height illusion as vertical patterns or stripes provide more height than busy patterns or horizontal stripes.

The painting of the wall and ceiling can also add to this height. We recommend going up two shades of your wall paint for your ceiling, as having a lower shade creates more shadows on the ceiling. In addition, paint the walls and trims the same color. Most interior designers encourage darker tones for low ceiling houses as it remarkably portrays a cozy atmosphere.

Furniture Choices Compatible With Low Ceilings

low ceiling mirror

Visualizing everything when selecting your furniture is very important, as a low ceiling can potentially create some obstacles. However, lowered ceilings allow the creation of many levels within a room to give it remarkable character. So, let us look at furniture features that will bring out the most charm in your low ceiling rooms.

Large mirrors are a great addition as the reflected light assists in making the room look bigger and brighter. The extra mirrors can also provide an image of having more windows than there are.

This concept might come as a surprise but staying away from short furniture is highly recommended. Low tables and chairs will only make a room look even smaller. However, if you select furniture with high legs, you again achieve the illusion of having a larger space.

Creating pillars and columns helps to heighten the room. You can achieve this with various features such as tall standing lamps, bookshelves, tall dressers, and tall plants. Speaking of plants, they are also a great addition as they, in every scenario, create more space within the room.


Even though low ceilings are not popular in modern housing nowadays, there are still advantages to having a low ceiling, like improving heating systems and insulation. You also save cost with both heat and cooling systems as the smaller space allows the temperature to travel more rapidly throughout the room.

Your house having a low ceiling is not the end-all. There are many ways to design an illusion of your ceiling being higher by carefully selecting different factors such as paint colors, light fixtures, furniture, drapes, and door placement.

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Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.