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9ft or 10ft ceilings

Kelly Beddingfield
4 years ago
last modified: 4 years ago

We are in the prelim. process of designing a 3500 sq. ft. two story house. We are trying to decide if 9ft ceilings will be sufficient. I first thought 10ft on the main floor and 9ft on the second floor. We have an open concept of kitchen, dining, living, and an additional dining room, office, and master on the first floor. We have two bedrooms and a media room upstairs. I would love to hear your feedback! Thank you!

Comments (29)

  • gthigpen
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    We did 10 ft downstairs and 9 ft upstairs. I think I like it....a neighbor did comment that our house feels open and airy. But it is one of the things I second guessed the entire build. I've only ever lived in houses with 8 foot ceilings and they never bothered me. And I'm super tall so it should have bothered me more than most. I'm not a fan of vaulted or two story great rooms. I like my houses to feel 'cozy' so I was worried that 10 ft would lose that feeling. But so far it seems fine. I do really like that I used 8' foot doors, although they are lot more expensive. The worst part of 10 foot ceilings was the additional cost of kitchen cabinets that were needed to reach the ceiling. But that was a self inflicted cost as my preference is for cabinets to go all the way to the ceiling. I am also worried about the additional heating/cooling costs for that extra room volume. But we built with spray foam insulation, sealed crawlspace, lots of shade trees, etc....so I think our energy bills should be pretty low regardless.

    That was a long answer to say that it's personal preference. I think our 9 foot on the 2nd story look fine and it feels open and airy up there too!

  • Kelly Beddingfield
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    Thank you! That was great advice! I have only lived with 8ft ceilings as well, so I was thinking that 9ft might be enough. I am a shorty at 5'4. I am like you in that I am not a fan of cathedral ceilings, seems like a waste of space, but I wanted the rooms to feel large at the same time. I am thinking with the added costs of 8f t doors and cabinetry, I may go with 9ft. I just don't want to regret this as this is our last home.


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  • Pensacola PI
    4 years ago

    We have 10' throughout but for specific reason to be able to get a view of the Perdido Key Bay from the 3rd floor. If not, we'd have gone 10' and 9'.

  • Beth
    4 years ago

    I actually prefer 9' to 10' on the first floor, too. It's hard to decorate 10' high walls and 'ordinary' sized bedrooms feel cavelike to me when they have 10' ceilings. I prefer an interesting ceiling treatment in the main living space (and master) and 9' is fine everywhere else.

  • PRO
    Anglophilia
    4 years ago

    I agree - think 10' ceilings are best left to old Victorian houses etc. Nine feet makes curtains and other interior design SO much easier!

  • worthy
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Ten and nine. But only because of building codes designed by planners for whom social leveling is paramount. (Oh, yeah, now they're "saving" the planet too.)

    For the days I spend on this side of Mother Earth, I prefer headroom!

    West Wycombe Estate, West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, England. (b. 1740-1800)

  • BK Iowa
    4 years ago

    Not sure if this will help you at all, but we had the same decision and posted as well...

    http://ths.gardenweb.com/discussions/4521713/height-of-walls-and-cabinets


  • cpartist
    4 years ago

    Depends where you're building. If you're in a warmer climate, I would definitely do 10' first and 9' second floor. It's what I did.

    The cost difference between 6'8" doors and 8' doors are not that much more depending on the material you use. We decided on MDF since we're painting our doors.

    Additionally there are ways to visually "bring down" a ceiling. One way is to paint it a darker color, for example. I'm creating a "hatband" at the top of the windows and doors around the rooms to visually "pull down" the ceiling as well as painting anything above the hatband the same color as the ceiling. Here is an example of what I mean although this is a drawing showing one of the upstairs 9' walls.

    Another trick is to make the more important rooms downstairs 10' and things like hallways 9'. Again, this is something I'm doing downstairs. So you enter the foyer or the friends entry and the ceiling is 9' and then enter into the kitchen/dining room or the great room and the ceilings are 10'.

  • worthy
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Frank Lloyd Wright's homes were typically marked by claustrophibically low ceilings. Duck through the door entries, dust the ceilings with a partially outstretched arm.

    By contrast, Hugh Newell Jacobsen's homes are noted for opening up otherwise unused spaces in his stripped-down takes on vernacular styles.

    Hugh Newell Jacobsen kitchen.

    Jacobsen's modern take on castle look, custom designed for the owners of Architectural Digest.

    Hugh Newell Jacobsen-designed 10807 Bellagio Rd., Los Angeles.

  • worthy
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Another trick is to make the more important rooms downstairs 10' and things like hallways 9'.

    Excellent, if achieveable!

    Too many homes seem to be designed like TV sitcom sets: Open the door and everything and everybody is there in one big room. No transition from "public" to "private" spaces. No sense of entry. Just a warehouse to put our "stuff," as George Carlin used to say.

  • Mrs Pete
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Remember, 8' is standard. Yes, many upscale new builds are using higher ceilings, but 8' makes up the majority of middle class houses.

    Depends where you're building. If you're in a warmer climate, I would definitely do 10' first and 9' second floor. It's what I did.

    Yes, the Not So Big series emphasizes that it's not high ceilings that matter -- it's a change. Read the whole explanation; it makes sense.

  • One Devoted Dame
    4 years ago

    I am a shorty at 5'4.

    I'm a couple of inches shorter than you. :-)

    We live in central Texas, and I like the 10' ceilings we have in our public spaces and 9' in our private spaces (most of the perimeter walls start at 8' and sharply angle to 9' or 10'). Actually, we have 10' in the master hall/bedroom/bathroom/closet, and I wish it was 9'. I like 9' in bedrooms because we double/triple up kids in rooms, and making bunk beds is so much nicer with an extra foot above my head.

    Anyway, I vote for the higher ceilings, in select locations, especially if you plan on minimal (or zero) recessed ceiling lighting. My tract house, regrettably, came with recessed cans virtually everywhere, and I will be converting as many of them as possible to pendants, mini pendants, chandeliers, etc. I frequently have to change light bulbs myself (my over-6'-tall husband travels a lot for business), and the Good Lord made me short for a reason -- I hate using ladders. ;-)

    Regarding window treatments, it's been my experience that 8'-9' ceilings are ideal, if you like curtains/drapes... Most drapes are a standard 84" long, which is 7'. Waaaaay too short for a window on an 8' wall, let alone 9'. I buy 96"-108" for my 8' walls (when I find a curtain I like; I sew, so prefer to buy yardage at a fabric store and whip them up myself). I hem them to kiss the floor, because I don't puddle/break the drapes (although I'd love to). The only 84" curtains I can buy are for the kitchen/bathroom windows, because I have to hem those shorter anyway, to not interfere with the sink/tub. If you have 9' ceilings, you can hem the 108" drapes or hang them so that they break a little. If you want puddling, you'll have to go longer.

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art
    4 years ago

    Actually, Mr. Wright's design philosophy included: 1) Making spatial transitions by moving through low-height spaces enroute to much higher height spaces. The differences in height created spatial drama and added to the movement experience through different parts of a house, and 2) Giving priority to the public spaces, making them larger, while economizing on the private spaces and making them smaller.

    Both of these approaches are largely forgotten and ignored by the followers of HGTV and the Parade of Homes, where open space floor plans, gi-normous rooms everywhere and people constantly saying, "Oh, wow!" are always featured.

    Here's one example (perhaps not his best) of spatial transition and variety by Mr. Wright:


    And Mr. Jacobsen used similar transitions, albeit perhaps more abrupt--higher and lower, in a more Modern vocabulary:


    The point is: have some variety! Don't make everything the same. Have some sort of overall organizing concept which makes some logical sense.

    Eight-foot ceilings everywhere in a custom home design make no logical sense.

  • worthy
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    The door frames at Taliesen are evidently 6'4" and Fallingwater ceilings transition--down to 6'4".

    Even if one frames a floor at, say 10', to achieve more appropriate heights--in a powder room, for instance--you just frame down the ceiling in that area. Costs a bit more, so you won't see this in tract homes where budget is necessarily everything.

  • tnfarmhouselove
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    After living in homes with mostly 8 foot ceilings (except for a few rooms with vaulted/raised ceilings), I'm enjoying the 9 foot ceilings in my newer build home and think they're the perfect height.

    At first they seemed so very high, but now they just feel normal and spacious. I have all white walls and ceilings so that probably makes the rooms seem even more bright and airy.

    If I were to build new, I think I would choose 9 feet over 10 for most rooms, with some varying heights for interest as suggested by others.

  • shbruch
    4 years ago

    We used a 10' plate height for the entire house...but we did NOT use 10' ceilings throughout the entire house. For example, in small rooms like a powder room that is 5x6, we dropped the ceiling down to around 8'6" (to keep it from feeling like an elevator shaft). In the bathroom it is dropped to 9'. The kitchen was dropped to 9' via soffits for a couple reasons. It allowed us to do a nice tray in the center of the kitchen, nice place for lighting, and also easier to work with cabinets. It also allowed us to do a very nice tray / coffered ceiling in the master bedroom where the tray was at 9', but the coffers sit up to 10'. Basically, with some professional input we varied the ceiling heights appropriate to each space/room, and the entire house turned out "feeling" great to live in. As others have noted, if you do your homework the doors aren't much different in cost, but 8' doors really look great in the house (if you keep them wide enough). Lastly, it also allowed us to use some really nice big and tall windows throughout.

  • PRO
    Summit Studio Architects
    4 years ago

    I like 9 feet with some select vaulting or higher ceilings. 10 feet if nothing is vaulted or higher. Windows and doors should be tailored to the ceiling height coming within 12-16" of the ceiling height. The extra height only creates a dark ceiling if the head heigh of the windows is not also raised. Stairs and building height limits also play a role in this decision.

  • cpartist
    4 years ago

    Summit if you have a 10' ceiling and an 8' door that leaves a 2' gap at the top. Are you saying that's poor design?

  • PRO
    Summit Studio Architects
    4 years ago

    For exterior door, my preference is 8 foot doors with a one foot transom to bring in as much light and view as possible. In certain situations 7 foot doors with 2 foot transom. If the budget allows for 9 foot custom doors that's awesome. Whether the windows have matching transoms or not depends on the design and the views.

    Interior doors look funny if the get over 8 feet. You can add a transom to this but you're creating another whole set of issues that need to be thought through.

  • patriceny
    4 years ago

    I've lived my whole life in 8 foot ceilings. Last year we bought our eventual retirement home, which we currently use as a second home on weekends, etc.. That second home has 9 foot ceilings.

    After living with 8' for many decades, I'm here to tell you 9' feels positively decadent. And I'm not one who usually notices or cares about such things. But now that it's been introduced into my consciousness, I'm noticing it all the time.

    Friends have 10 foot ceilings. That actually feels "too tall" for me in most rooms. "Too tall" is an entirely subjective thing and I accept different people will have different reactions.

    What I can tell you is that their guest bathroom has 10 foot ceilings, and I seriously feel like I'm in an elevator shaft. It is disconcerting and out of proportion, in my opinion. It feels fine in their common areas, but I do not like it at all in the more private and/or smaller spaces. The bedrooms just don't feel "cozy" to me, which again is a very subjective thing.

    So take all of that for what it's worth. If ever build again, I'll likely go with 9 feet. 10 feet is fine in larger spaces and/or for a more "gracious" look, but wow it feels weird in a small bathroom!

  • Milly Rey
    4 years ago

    9' requires the same material and more labor vs 10'. 10'.

  • worthy
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    That's because dimensional lumber doesn't come in 9' lengths. So you're paying carpenters or the wholesaler to cut to length. Still, I've done a custom where that's the height the client couple compromised on--one wanted 10', the other 8'.

  • PRO
    Summit Studio Architects
    4 years ago

    You can get it pre-cut for 9'-1 1/8" plate height here in Colorado. If you're going to use a 10 foot stud why not go 10'-4 1/2" plate height if you have the room.

  • Fred S
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Not only are 104 ⅝ studs commonplace around here, 4.5' x 12' drywall is also stocked.

  • Mrs Pete
    4 years ago

    9' requires the same material and more labor vs 10'. 10'.

    When you're talking about materials, taller ceilings do rack up a higher bill. No, the walls themselves aren't that much more, but be sure you're considering all the associated costs:

    - Doors have already been mentioned. Personally, I'd opt for transoms instead of taller interior doors.

    - A taller ceiling means you need more staircase (if you have a second floor). This means requires more square footage, and it means people with mobility problems have to climb an extra foot or two.

    - Most of us seem to like to-the-ceiling kitchen cabinets. Another foot is a pretty big price, and then you get into the questions of stacked-vs.-tall cabinets ... for cabinets that are hard to reach.

    - More tile in the bathroom shower.

    - Longer window treatments, which may take you out of the standard lengths. If you're looking at things like plantation shutters (love them), an extra foot on a couple windows is real money.

    - If the ceiling's farther away, you're going to need larger and /or dropped light fixtures.

    - Finally, if your house is 2000 sf, every extra foot of ceiling height is another 2000 sf to heat/cool.


    I can see 9', but 10' seems kind of outrageous.


  • cpartist
    4 years ago

    If you live in the south, 10' is NOT outrageous because heat rises.

  • worthy
    4 years ago

    dimensional lumber doesn't come in 9' lengths

    Thanks.

    Should read: may not come in 9' lengths in your area.

  • dchall_san_antonio
    4 years ago

    Check with your builder to see what the difference is between 8', 9', and 10'. To stay proportional the windows and doors may need to be custom sized to fit.

    We had a 9' ceiling for 25 years. We just moved to an 8' ceiling house. I'm 6' and don't have a problem with the difference. With 9 or higher you will need a ladder to reach higher. With 8-ft I use a step stool.

    Heat does rise. In the winter this means you will want a fan to stir the warm air down with the cooler air. I used a table fan placed on the ground and aimed toward the ceiling. It makes a big difference. In the summer the same thing happens. I run the fan 24/7/365.

    Smoke rises, too. We had a house fire several years ago in the 9-ft house. It started in the kitchen where there were no smoke detectors. Smoke had to fill the kitchen ceiling down to the door frames before it poured into the dining room. Then it had to fill the dining room down to the door frames. Once it filled the dining room it had to fill the living room down to the door frames. Once it filled the living room it set off the smoke detector in the hallway. The fire burned for at least 30 minutes, and I was awake the entire time in a lower part of the house. So if you are wiring for wired smoke detectors, keep that in mind.