Eight foot ceilings used to be the norm in residential buildings, in communities like Mount Vernon and elsewhere. Even the tallest people had space to spare with them. Eight foot ceilings also offered nice proportions to the rooms they capped at a time when rooms tended to be small.
Real estate styles of today tell a different story. Cathedral ceilings are the key in central rooms such as the living room. If a ceiling is not a cathedral, it's at least recessed. High ceilings grant more visual space, opening up the room. Tall ceilings can also balance out increasingly wide space.
But some homes have neither cathedral nor recessed ceilings. They remain at a standard eight feet in eight, and there is no practical way of changing that. So, when selling a home and worrying about ceiling heights, a little cleverness goes a long way.
Remove Drop Ceilings
Getting rid of drop ceilings is a must. They are an outdated style, so, unless they hide something that absolutely cannot be relocated (such as plumbing), pull them out.
Use of color can create a ton of illusions. The color white helps things to recede, as do cool colors. Paint the ceiling either bright white or a very light blue-white. Alternatively, paint the entire room in a very light color, and then apply a matching color to the ceiling. The lack of clear edges will allow the ceiling to blend into the walls, removing the visual cap of a ceiling.
Keep Rooms Brightly Lit
Light colored paint isn't terribly effective in a murky room. Be sure to have plenty of brightly lit lamps filling the space with light during open houses. Ideally, include some uplighting to really bounce light off the ceiling.
Get rid of light fixtures which protrude from the ceiling, such as domes and pendants. Instead, install recessed lighting so the space between the ceiling and people's heads is not interrupted.
Be Creative with Decor
Patterns trick the eye into seeing things which are not there and can accentuate a space. Ever been warned not to wear horizontal stripes? That is because they accentuate width, which few people want. Vertical stripes, on the other hand, stress height, making a room or person appear taller than they are.
Find items which are tall and thin: floor lamps, paintings with slim frames, appropriately proportioned sculptures, tall houseplants, etc. Let curtains fall to the floor, and install the curtain rods a few inches higher than normal above the windows to give the fabric that extra length.
Horizontal items should stay close to the ground. Low-sitting, minimalist couches are good.
Hang wall shelves a little closer to the ground as normal. It is another change unlikely to be noticed, but it opens up the space above. In fact, keep as many focal points as close to the ground as possible. Accent color floor pillows are one easy way of drawing attention downward, away from that looming ceiling.
And, finally, keep the room uncluttered. Clutter always minimizes space, no matter which direction is in question. Allow viewers to see every scrap of area available.
Having a standard ceiling is not a deal breaker by far. Most homes still have them. However, there is great demand for higher ceilings today, and anything a seller can do to accentuate those qualities can only help in getting a good sales price in a short about of time.