Studio Brunstrum

Turn Up the Volume!

May 12, 2017

Soaring ceilings are a beautiful challenge for designers – we love their lofty grandeur, but they do require special handling!

Soaring ceilings are a beautiful challenge for designers – we love their lofty grandeur, but they do require special handling!

All Photos Courtesy of Sweet Peas Design

The secret is in creating correct proportions. Here are some tips for adjusting the volume in a voluminous space.



Window Works

If your windows are not exceptionally tall, I recommend installing the window treatments well above the existing casings, to balance out the scale. Conversely, if the windows are extra tall, I typically install the window treatments part-way down, (first photo) leaving some of the upper window exposed, which lowers the sight-line. To make this room (above) snugger , we installed tufted valances at the top of the lower tier of windows.


Magnificent Mantels

Fireplace mantels are your opportunity to go big with art and accessories in a high-volume room, and I mean BIG! Let’s take advantage of all that glorious height and select oversize pieces that again, will balance the scale of the room while ushering in some drama. Layering is a good idea in this situation, too. For one client with a 2 ½-story family room (just above, and in the first photo), we leaned a painting over a much larger wooden trellis-like piece on the mantel. It created warmth, heft, and again, yoga-like balance.


Eyes Up!

Large-volume rooms can feel overwhelming to the people living in them, but the scale and glow of a grand, oversized chandelier or a big ceiling fan will bring the eye down and make everyone feel more comfortable. But as I always say, remember that every room needs a variety of lighting – including table and floor lamps and sconces.


Sight Line Solutions

Picture the Chicago skyline for a moment. Wouldn’t it be boring if all the buildings were the same height? The same is true of your large-volume family room or living room. It’s important to break up the sight lines with pieces at varying heights. In this big-volume family room notice that the fireplace reaches from floor to ceiling, the large cabinet on the wall goes just up to the spring point between the wall and the angled portion of the ceiling, the windows are slightly lower and the furniture is the lowest point. Other options for an interesting “skyline” - a pair of tall etageres, an extra-tall floor lamp or a large piece of sculpture on a pedestal.


Architectural Artistry

Layering architectural details on a ceiling is another way to bring  scale, proportion and warmth to an airy space. Consider a coffered or tray ceiling, or even ceiling beams – yes, they're back! – which will lower the volume a bit while increasing the visual va-va-voom!

Susan Brunstrum
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