kitchen cabinet question - x posted

bevangel_i_h8_h0uzzNovember 3, 2008

We're meeting with the carpenter next week to discuss what we want in the way of kitchen cabinets. Our ceilings are 10 ft high and we're aiming for a "new old house" look.

What do you all advise, functionally and aesthetically, with regard to whether kitchen cabinets should go all the way to the ceiling or stop short of that point leaving space for plants and gee-gaws above? If the latter, do you advise having all cabinets stop at the same height or having staggered heights?

I've seen kitchens that look great done all three ways but think that I'm leaning toward staggered cabinet tops as being more in keeping with the look I'm trying to achieve.

I'm wondering though just how much of an issue dust and grease collecting on top of such cabinets is. Truth to tell, I doubt I'd climb up on a ladder to clean up there very often. LOL. I don't think I'll need the extra storage space that to-the-ceiling cabinets would supply since my new storage pantry itself will be almost as large as the kitchen I've lived with for 23 years. On the other hand I'll probably have to collect something decorative to put up there.

So, which way did you go and why and are you happy with your decision or would you do it differently if you could start over?

Thanks all -

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bevangel, We have 9' ceilings in our kitchen, but I only took the cabinets up to 7 1/2 ft, plus about 3" of crown. I'm short, and I just couldn't see the utility of taking the cabinets to the ceiling. I hardly use the cabinets over the micro and fridge because they are so hard to reach. With the crown, I won't put anything on top of the cabinets which might get dirty, so I don't EVER anticipate crawling up there to clean.

In our "nook" area, I did do one staggered height cabinet, but this cabinet is also different depths. (Please ignore the fact that we are STILL missing our table!)

So far, I'm happy with the decision we made on our cabinets and I don't think I would do it any differently if I were to start over...

However, I think the staggered cabinets would look great through out a kitchen. I've seen all three styles you mention above done beautifully. To me, it is just a matter of personal taste.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2008 at 5:05PM
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I'm wondering though just how much of an issue dust and grease collecting on top of such cabinets is.

If you use your exhaust fan when you're cooking, grease should not be a problem. We have ten foot ceilings (see below) and vacuum the cabinet tops once a year. I've had clients who chose cabinets to the top for extra storage, even with a ten-foot ceiling.

Ten Foot ceiling with space above cabinets

Double height cabinets with a nine-and-a-half-foot ceiling

    Bookmark   November 3, 2008 at 6:09PM
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If you leave an open space, you can achieve a dramatic effect by putting in flourescents on top. But the wall and ceiling finish must be perfect (or textured) to accept the scrutiny.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2008 at 6:12PM
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Dust and grease *is* an issue, however, only when you are cleaning up there. Unless you have a 7'-tall friend, in which case, you better clean more often.

I do vent at all times when cooking, and rarely [once every 2 or 3 months] fry anything greasy. I lay heavy wax paper on the cabinet tops, and change it once or twice a year. And it's yucky. Always.

Personally, I adore the double cabinets.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2008 at 8:08AM
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Meldy, what a great idea!! I had open space in my last kitchen and know how dusty it gets there.

I put rope lighting there and we used one section as a night light. Loved the effect, except that as rope lighting ages, it tends to get orangy. I suspect it was a softer lighting than fluorescents.

The cabinets in that kitchen were all the same height, simply because of the limited sizes available in the line I chose. It offered only two heights in uppers. In my new kitchen, I'm again leaving space between the uppers and the ceiling, but will have staggered heights.


    Bookmark   November 4, 2008 at 9:12AM
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When I finally re-modeled the kitchen, DH chose a standard brand -I don't even remember whose, but he fell in love with the solid pecan doors. Anyway, of the heights offered, the 12" [meant to encase vent hood or go over refrig) were perfect for layering on over the regular wall cabinets, similar to Worthy's bottom pic, but without the crowning. That dropped the cabinets several inches lower than the norm, which meant I could actually reach everything on the lower 3 shelves. Without a stepstool. I now use the wax paper only on top of the fridge and the freezer.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2008 at 12:38PM
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i did cabs all the way to the ceiling in our last home and this one will be no different. i love having the additional storage. even more i love the way it looks.

and i'm a clean freak. even if you have nothing up there that would require cleaning, you still have dust accumulating on top of the cabinets. if you're going to clean them, fine. if not, don't tell me...

    Bookmark   November 4, 2008 at 2:58PM
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After looking at dozens, maybe hundreds of pictures of kitchens and reading and considering all of your advice, I think I'm about committed to staggered cabinets that don't go all the way to the ceiling. I just like that look so much better and, since I don't need the additional storage space figure I might as well get the look I really want.

I do have to get the electrician to in a plug for me way up there so I can plug in rope lights. That was a great and inexpensive idea that I had not thought about - thank you hostagrams!

Worthy, I have to admit I don't always turn on the vent hood when cooking. Truth to tell, I usually ONLY turn it on if I am frying something which, fortunately, I don't do more than a couple of times a year. What can I say? I hate the NOISE my current vent hood makes - maybe the new one will be quieter. But no doubt my cabinet tops are gonna get yucky in the extreme. Will definitely have to line the tops with waxpaper as recommended by meldy and be careful never to mention to friends like Kateskouros how just seldom I climb up there to clean. LOL!

Thanks everybody.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2008 at 4:37PM
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I love how my cabinets turned out. I like the look of staggered heights.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2008 at 11:24AM
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I knew I'd never use the top shelves if we went to the ceiling (9-foot). I didn't even want the taller cabinets; have plenty of other storage. So, we hung shorter cabinets higher on the walls, leaving more clearance between countertop and cabinet. I'm 5' 6" but still need a step stool to reach the top shelves.

I like the 'look', but you can't beat having soffits to prevent the dust and dirt on cabinet tops. Another way to achieve the same thing is to have glass-front cabinets with interior lights in the space between lower cabinets and the ceiling. (If money is no object!) I use my under-cabinet lights ALL the time. A buffet has glass front cabinets with interior lights that are on the same switch with the under-cabinet lights. I didn't like the 'drama' of top-lighting.

I'm afraid the staggered look will seem dated in a few years. Same for the finish mix and match, and probably glazing. Heck, kitchen designers would be out of work if they didn't come up with some 'new look' every couple of years!

    Bookmark   November 5, 2008 at 1:03PM
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We went all the way to the ceiling (9ft), but I personally like that look. We added interest by using glass fronts and lots of lighting on top, staggered depth of cabs. It might be too much to go all the way to the top in your house with 10 footers - unless you get a library ladder! From house From house

    Bookmark   November 5, 2008 at 2:21PM
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We went with staggered cabs, and I love the way the kitchen came out. I am looking for the cord that connects the camera to the computer. I will post pictures for you when I find it.

We had an outlet put in for above-cabinet rope lighting, too ~ very pretty.

That waxed paper is an excellent idea, Meldy!


    Bookmark   November 5, 2008 at 3:22PM
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I am facing the same dilemna for when we get around to building our house. We used to put vases and random knicknacks on top of our cabinets, but then we noticed that they were all covered in dust and grime, and so, we took them all down. I'm leaning toward cabinets all the way up to the 10 foot ceilings. Btw, I'd love for your thoughts on our floorplan if you get a chance. I thought you had some really good comments on other floorplans.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2008 at 5:49PM
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We have 9' ceilings. Cabinets all the way to the ceiling. The top row will have glass doors so that we can display items behind the doors and away from the dust.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2008 at 5:11PM
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