“It is a pretty profligate way to use space,” admits Ed Mead, executive director of estate agents Douglas & Gordon. “It is also a fairly recent phenomenon, and part of the prime central London premier property scene. It’s the showing-off factor.”
Tom Tangney, a partner at Knight Frank, says the crucial benefit of a space with super high ceilings is light.
“These rooms really are flooded with light and that is what people love. And great walls are fabulous for hanging interesting art, or displaying a library of, say, 1,000 books.”
When Alex Michaelis, director of Michaelis Boyd — the interior architects of phase two of the £8 billion Battersea Power Station project — was redesigning his own flat in St Quintin Avenue, north Kensington, he opted for a double height reception room rather than cramming another floor in above it, which would have made the three-bedroom flat feel like any other city centre period conversion.
The duplex (pictured above), which Michaelis lived in, is on the market for £1.65 million (www.domusnova.com).
However, double height design doesn’t need to be completely shock and awe, it can work on a more domestic level in a period family home, as well as lateral flats.
The owner of a four-bedroom house in Limerston Street, Chelsea (£3.69 million; www.douglasandgordon.com) has removed the upstairs ceilings, forsaking a small but useful loft space, in order to give the top floor master bedroom suit high, pitched ceilings. This innovation has given the bedroom and bathroom an airy look and exposed beams and brickwork even invest it with a subtly industrial, architectural feel.
Another way to retrofit a double height space is when building an extension. A newly renovated four-bedroom house in Charles Street, Mayfair (£15 million; www.wetherell.co.uk) has had a simple glass rear extension.
Some “side to side” rear extensions look a little mean thanks to their long, slim footprint. But this beauty, by virtue of its double volume, has a wonderful feeling of open space and does not compromise the light into the rear of the main house. Ed Tryon, managing partner of Lichfields Buying Agency, is a fan of the double height.
“People have got a little bit obsessed with square footage, but my view is that at the top end buyers are a different breed. Volume is often more valuable, and a point of difference,” he says.