Style Sleuth: Bringing down the ceiling in cavernous spaces

Starbuckspanels_2Here’s a cool idea I saw at a SoCal Starbucks for visually bringing a too-tall ceiling down to human level.

In this scene, two squares of warmly finished plywood have been suspended from the tall ceiling, with recessed lights built in. How clever is that?

The reason I bring this to your attention is that so many homes built in the last 10 or 20 years have been imbued with incredibly tall ceilings.

After hearing many talks by Sarah Susanka, author of the Not So Big House books, I’m convinced that most people don’t feel very comfortable or cozy in rooms with soaring ceilings. I know I don’t, unless there’s a big party or gathering. But for an evening at home, curling up the couch with the ceiling some 15 or 20 feet above is not comforting.

With some intelligent, artful design, panels like these could create a sort of canopy above certain areas in a tall room to give them an added human scale.

And speaking of Susanka, she is speaking at the upcoming West Coast Green building conference in San Francisco Sept. 20 to 22, with the conference open to homeowners on the 22nd.