The Wall Street Journal's Stefanos Chen looks at one design detail apartment developers are featuring to differentiate their product in a crowded market: higher ceilings.

Ceilings as high as 11, or even 20, feet are beginning to replace the standard 8-foot height in many apartment plans, and buyers have shown they're willing to pay up for space that rises a little higher. But this trend is playing out in the luxury rental space too, sometimes to an even more dramatic degree:

While ceilings are rising throughout new luxury towers, the tallest ceilings are typically found in the highest, most expensive apartments, says Michael Hobbs, the owner of PahRoo Appraisal & Consultancy in Chicago. Since zoning rules can limit unit density, he says developers try to eke out more value from top-floor units with better views and more prestige. Every additional foot can cost a builder 5% to 10% more, experts say, but the panache factor often offsets the added cost.

High ceilings are often found in apartments that offer other luxury amenities, such as tall windows and concierge service, which bolster their value, says New York appraiser Jonathan Miller—but not in every case. “The smaller the apartment, the [smaller] the impact of tall ceilings,” he said, noting that too-tall ceilings can make some apartments feel claustrophobic.

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