The basement of my house in Lincoln served the secondary purpose of being my garage as well. It was heavenly. For the first time in my life, I could have my vehicle "under cover" during the more icky weather patterns we experience. As part of that design, as well as a desire to have plenty of natural light down there, the ceilings were nearly 11 feet tall. This was also critically important for the beer pong tournament we had down there for my 40th birthday! (Thanks again to my dad for playing the role of referee!)

In many real estate articles, the advice given is about making a room look bigger. Cramming oneself into a closet, standing on a chair or outside of the room itself and arranging furniture "just so" are all great ways to accentuate a room's visible area. But what about the ceilings? Countless New England homes were built in a time where ceiling height was not a consideration. The lower the ceiling, the easier it is to heat (which is still brilliant advice, by the way).

Let's take a look at ways you can make your rooms feel larger and more open from the bottom up.

Many of the tips you'll find today are focused around playing tricks on the eyes and giving the illusion of height. We will not be "raising the roof" as it were. One of the best ways to do this is to eliminate any crown molding lingering up there. The molding, while attractive and ornate, simply brings the ceiling down a few inches (literally) and clutters up that space for the eye (visually). This, combined with installing some taller baseboards, will draw the eye up and provide more of a feeling of height.

While we're talking about the molding (or the removal thereof), another great tip is to use a high-gloss paint on the ceiling itself. So if the taller baseboards and lack of crown molding are going to draw the eye "up", the glossy paint simply allows the light to bounce around the room more freely and "cleans" up that space.

Obviously, it is good to avoid low-hanging fixtures in these rooms as well. Flush mounted lights are going to be best. Overall the goal is to provide a clean surface and not clutter that space up for the eyes (or for taller people!).

A trick I have used in the kitchen before is extending the cabinets and other built-ins all the way up to the ceiling. Personally I have always hated those kitchens that leave about a foot of completely useless space at the top of the cabinets. Sure it's great for displaying pottery or other trinkets, but you obviously know by now how I feel about clutter. By extending those cabinets to the ceiling you are not only gaining more valuable cabinet space (how is that not obvious?) but also removing that "void" at the top and giving the feel of a more cohesive (read: tall) room. If you DO have that area above your cabinets, when was the last time you cleaned up there?

"In nearly any room of the house, using long horizontal shelving is a great way to visually heighten a room," notes Badger Realty agent Bernadette Donohue. "By drawing the eye to the horizontal plane and the associated items on it, the eye creates more vertical space on its own," she continued.

Bernadette is right. Those long shelves can make a big difference in a room. Plus, now you have a place to put all that "stuff" you had to remove from above the kitchen cabinets!

It is no secret that bathrooms are one of the more challenging rooms in a home to make seem larger. They are always filled with the shower, tub, commode and vanity and there's really no getting around that. One great idea I have seen is using a low tank on the toilet. Since you're fighting with limited space already, a standard tank can take up 20-30 percent of the height of the wall. Low-rise tanks are not only modern and stylish, but they help the room feel larger (and taller!) and will most likely incorporate low-flow flushes as well. You get the benefit of saving water and the feeling of a larger room for the price of one fixture!

This last one is my favorite. I noted my basement before and I've also seen this in an in-town apartment. Rather than be stuck with a dropped ceiling, whose only purpose is to hide the air ducts and floor joists from above, let that area free. Removing a dropped ceiling and exposing the "industrial" workings hidden therein can give a ton of personality to a room while obviously creating a more visually open look and feel. Many restaurants are using this strategy now because, with a little paint and organization, the exposed "guts" offer a very cool design feature. I'm a fan of painting everything matte black to minimize the elements themselves, but the visual effects are simply awesome.

Making rooms (and homes) feel and look larger is a strategy of homeowners and real estate professionals alike. It is as old as home ownership itself. Why not make the most of the house you are in and give it the largest feel possible? Hopefully, today, you picked up a few tips on visually expanding your rooms "up" and not just "out".

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