Tuesday, January 20, 2009
27: Ceiling Height
The height of ceilings can have a huge effect on the mood and experience of the rooms in a house. I grew up in the Deep South and have always been attracted to rooms with high ceilings. Here in the Catskill Mountains, I decided to not install central air conditioning, or any air conditioning besides ceiling fans in the two bedrooms. It's rare that there isn't at least a light breeze blowing across Twilight Field and the summers are mostly mild.
Even though the foot print of my house is on the small side, I knew that I wanted to push the height of the rooms as much as possible, which is how I ended up with nine foot ceilings on the first floor, 10 foot ceilings on the second where the rooms are much more partitioned by walls, and a tall house. During the design process, I realized that I wouldn't need an attic with access for storage, because the full basement would give me plenty of storage space. Although the valleys created by the cross gabled roof are steep and cut sharply into the four corners of the house, I also decided to push the second floor's ceiling up to 10 feet and let the roof's valleys cut into the four corners inside. These bump-outs (or bump-ins) are most noticeable in the bedrooms, but they're really not that noticeable. In fact, I think they give the rooms a little character. As you've read before, I was very conscious of trying to incorporate things into the design of the house that would help keep the rooms from feeling like new, perfect boxes. Sometimes that meant letting a few "imperfections" happen and dealing with them logically. In this case, I decided to paint the bump-outs the color of the walls, as opposed to the color of the ceiling, so that they wouldn't create sharp visual points pulling the ceilings down.