Welcome and congratulations! The world is your oyster! Why? Because you have ceilings over 8' in height. Look up - what do your ceilings look like, plain with recessed lighting, maybe a ceiling fan or two? For shame - what a waste of opportunity.
Oh, wait you say there is something interesting up there? Kudos for you. When you have the blessing of higher ceilings, you truly have the blessing of so much more! You have flexiblity to build in architectural interest, you can be playful or serious. Instantly you can give your home character and age, although it maybe new construction.
With the exception of a homes where the ceilings have been wallpapered in palm frawns or banana leaves...(yes it does happen and in a narrow hallway too, I could not help to sing - "I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts...there they are all standing in a row...") There really few bad choices. Let's look at some great examples:
1. Contemporary Homes: While a plain flat ceiling can be appropriate, so can tounge & grove, or beadboard. Be careful of using a narrow beadboard, this can push the look country, cottage, beach or nautical in nature. This is a great photo from Interiors Magazine.
The beadboard effect on the ceiling is very authentic to modern/contemporary homes and extremely versitale in its use.
2. Ethnic/Multi-cultural/Resort. Again from the Interiors Magazine -
How do you create this for you? Easy, create the beam effect, either with beams, or trimmed out boxes and use a reed wallpaper to create the look of thatching. You won't have as much depth, as this example, but you will be amazed at the effect.
3. Traditional - A quick an easy way to spice up a ceiling with a traditional flare is through the use of beams. Beaming can be used to create long runs, hopefully with the shortest distance to visually push the room wider, or they can be used to create more intricate patterns. This example is from a Cristall Steel Windows ad (http://www.critallna.com/) published in the November 2002 issue of Architectural Digest (http://www.architecturaldigest.com/). The beam detail is intricate, but beautiful!
4. Ceilings - Faux Finish or wallpapers. Formal Traditional interiors really are defined by this technique. It can be done with restraint or with abandon and through multiple techniques. Although I don't have a picture to share, I worked on a library while with Michael J. Siller Interiors in Houston where we used anagalypta to wallpaper the ceiling and then had the faux finisher finish it like antique leather. The paper itself was very well priced, more of the cost was in the faux finishing. But it created a very unique look.
Brief definition here, there is anaglypta and lincrusta. Lincrusta was created first and is a more rigid material created from lineseed oil & wood pulp. The embossing tends to be deeper and more defined. Anaglypta is a trademark name and was created second, offering more flexibilty because it is composed of wood pulp and cotton. The embossing isn't as detailed and has the ability to collapse.
This example also from the November 2002 issue of Architectural Digest also shows how intricate you can work your ceilings. Of an interesting not, the intricacy of the trellis ceiling with the crown is balanced with the simplicity of the walls and furnishings.
5. Exotic Innovation. I love the veneer work on this ceiling. Again from Interiors Magazine (http://www.interiorsmagazine.us/) this ceiling excudes luxury! While I have no doubt that this ceiling is likely actually real veneer, let's talk about how to recreate. First you could do it through wallpaper. Maya Romanoff (http://www.mayaromanoff.com/) or Phillip Jefferies (http://www.phillipjeffries.com/) Both have veneer wallpapers to choose from.
Another way to create this would be through the use of laminates such as those from Wilson Art (http://www.wilsonart.com/), Formica (http://www.formica.com/) or Tree Frog Veneer(http://www.treefrogveneer.com/) Granted your craftman/woman is going to have to love you or love the idea just as much as you do.
So five quick ideas on things that you can do with higher ceilings, either now or tomorrow. Did you notice how many ceilings were darker? The height and pitch of the ceilings enables the use of a darker ceiling as a way to balance and enhance the architecture. The same effect can be done with paint, but has to be done gingerly.