How to Finish a Basement With Low Ceilings? - Basements Plus
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How to Finish a Basement With Low Ceilings?


How to Finish a Basement With Low Ceilings?

In Basement Remodeling, Design Tips & Tricks by Adam Jensen / Updated: June 3, 2022

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How do I work around low ceiling heights in my basement?

Lower ceiling height is a common issue in older homes that may not have been built with the intention of having the basement finished. Having a lower ceiling height does not mean you cannot finish your basement. You may just need to be a little creative to create a design that works best for your specific space. While you create the design of your basement keeps the ceiling height in mind for every space.

Working with a dedicated basement finishing company will be your best bet in achieving the desired look and feel you want for your space. Designing a plan around a lower ceiling in your basement can include using different ceiling types, design tweaks, and even using specific materials. All of these pieces, when put together can create a space that doesn’t feel cramped or small.

How do you make a low basement ceiling look higher?

The best way to make a room look bigger is to maximize the ceiling height when possible. Before we start any basement finishing project, our project managers walk through the basement with the homeowner to review the ceiling. Typically, HVAC ducts are the lowest points in your basement ceiling, as well as some potential piping. If you change the height of the ceiling multiple times to work around these obstacles, you can get a space that appears small and choppy.

Our designers and project managers work to create a uniform section that would be higher or lower. This creates clean lines in the ceiling and can help with defining spaces within the basement without adding walls.

Brighton, MI Home is Creative with Ceiling Spacing

Venting and piping ran across the ceiling in this entire basement. Instead of boxing out just where the pipes were, our team designed this ceiling to have a higher section in the middle. This spacing allows for the maximum ceiling height to show while keeping clean lines throughout the space.

The recessed lighting, paint colors, and windows in this basement make the space feel very bright and welcoming.

brighton Michigan finished basement with light grey walls and tons of natural light

A Novi, MI Home Created Natural Separation for Areas of the Basement

This basement had a few support beams running across the space.  To make the space appear more uniform, the boxed out section was continued all the way to the wall. This helps make the ceiling look more uniform with fewer ups and downs. The ceiling in this case creates a natural separation between this game section and the rest of the basement.

The higher portion of the ceiling allows for a hanging light over the pool table. Recessed lighting combined with the accent light creates a well-lit space.

basement staircase open rail view basement novi

A Troy, Mi Home Brings Cabinets Up to the Ceiling

Working around a lower ceiling height in this basement, our designers brought the cabinets all the way to the ceiling to maximize the available height. HVAC and support beams were a challenge in this space so they were boxed out separately from end to end. This kept the space as open as possible for the living area.

Finished basement in Troy, MI re purposed into space for kitchen and living room

What is the cheapest way to finish a basement ceiling?

There are a few different ways to finish a basement ceiling:

Painted ceilings are slightly less expensive compared to the other styles. They also require fewer materials to be purchased and installed as well. When the ceilings are painted it leaves the joists exposed, which allows for your basement to have the maximum ceiling height available. Painting your basement ceiling will give your space a unique modern-industrial look compared to the other styles. Painted ceilings are a great option for anyone who has lower ceiling heights or is concerned about having access to everything that is running along with the ceiling.

painted black ceilings in a modern Oakland Township, MI basement with a dart board and carpeting

Can you raise the ceiling in a basement?

This is a fairly common question. Raising the ceiling height in a basement is possible, but requires a lot of planning and structural construction. More often than not, working around the ceiling height that you have is best. Structural engineers and foundation experts would need to be involved in order to raise the ceiling height in the basement. This type of work often requires digging down through your foundation, making the basement deeper which then makes the ceiling higher.

How do you make a room look bigger with low ceilings?

If your basement has a lower ceiling height, there are a few design-related things that can be done to visually help the space.

  • Recessed lighting is a great start! Switching from outdated incandescent lighting to recessed lighting can make a huge visual impact on your space. Not only do recessed lights sit inside the ceiling, but the housing they use is also smaller and less noticeable than other forms of ceiling light. The size mixed with the amount of light they produce will keep your space looking bright and open.
  • Skip the hanging ceiling lights, such as pendant lighting. These will draw attention to the height of your space. Anything hanging from the ceiling will take away precious inches from the height of your space. It will also obstruct the view of your basement which can make it feel smaller.
  • Keep your paint colors light and bright. Lighter paint colors will help make the overall space feel more open and bright, while at the same time helping draw attention away from a low ceiling.


How do you decorate with low ceilings?

Decorating with a few simple tips and tricks can go a long way in helping the overall feel of your basement. Tricking the eye is the key to decorating a space that has low ceilings.

Hanging pictures a little higher on your walls can give the room a bit larger of a feeling. An often overlooked tip is to use more compact furniture pieces rather than bulky ones. Finding a couch or sectional that has a more modern design with a lower back and is longer in width will help keep your space feeling large. The lower horizontal back will take emphasis away from the ceiling height. Another trick is using vertical artwork, this has been a technique used to give the feeling of higher ceilings throughout your home. Taller, more narrow artwork often lends to creating a space that appears taller. The same trick can work with mirrors.

Working around a basement with lower ceilings can be tricky. A trusted expert with years of experience can be the best way to ensure you are getting the most out of your space. Our team of specialists are here to assist in the design and construction of your basement. With over 16 years of experience, our team has finished and remodeled basements throughout the Northville, Rochester, and Novi areas. Give us a call today to schedule your free consultation!

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