When you are designing a basement with a low ceiling, the oppressive feeling can cause difficulty in making a livable, usable space. As you plan a design, examine ways that you can establish an open atmosphere and create the illusion of additional vertical height to draw the eye upward.
To increase the perceived height of a low ceiling in a basement, use lights that point upward. You can install small spotlights, wall sconces or track lighting that can be adjusted to point up. The Patriot Home Remodeling and Repair website suggests that lights be placed above eye level so that the light does not interfere with your line of vision. Additional light on the highest part of the room draws the eye up and creates the illusion of additional vertical space.
In a basement with low ceilings, dark paints can create a cave-like feeling and emphasize the lack of vertical space. Instead, paint the room in a pale color that will reflect the available light and create a sense of openness. If you want to use color, use it on the walls and paint the ceiling white for contrast. When choosing furniture, look for light colors in shades of the same color; a monochromatic scheme will increase the open feeling of the room where as high contrast breaks up the space.
According to the Hanley Wood Remodeling website, a large expanse of undetailed ceiling can make the room feel enclosed. Open the ceiling up by cutting the ceiling material to expose the beams or joists above. Turn the joists into an architectural feature and a focal point of the room by sanding and refinishing them. The extra vertical space will increase the height of the room and give the ceiling extra depth and texture. Unless you are experienced with home renovation, wiring and construction, leave a project of this magnitude to a professional contractor.
If your basement ceiling is lacking in architectural details, add your own without impeding on the space. Find thin wooden strips and nail them to the ceiling to create a geometric pattern; you might build a grid pattern or place the strips around the edge of the room for a layered look. Paint the strips the same color as the ceiling for a smooth look. The extra detail will draw the eye upward, and the solid color scheme will not create additional visual chaos.