Upper cabinets - to ceiling in small kitchen?

graywings123January 14, 2013

I want to replace the upper cabinets in my small kitchen in a 94 year old house and would like opinions on cabinet height - 36 or 42 inches - in a room with an 8 foot ceiling.
The current cabinets are 30 inches high and sit low on the wall by modern standards. There is only 15 inches between the countertop and the upper cabinet bottoms, but that's comfortable for me because I am short.

Using that same bottom placement, 36 inch cabinets would leave about 8.8 inches above. 42 inch cabinets with molding would go to the ceiling. Is one preferable over the other? Would ceiling height cabinets overwhelm the room?

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I definitely would go up to the ceiling. Not only will it completely update the kitchen, space is even at more of a premium in a small room. Just think of all the things you can store in that added space.

You are also really lucky in that you know the space is free, you don't have to remove a bulkhead and find venting pipes etc.

I would also make sure that you have the cupboard over the fridge extend out deeper. That's where I store all my baking pans/trays, etc with vertical dividers.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2013 at 4:38PM
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I think they would look great going all the way to the ceiling! Have a look on Houzz, you can find a lot of examples of similarly sized kitchen with cabinets going up to 8' ceilings. (In fact they do in my own kitchen, but I don't have any photos on the computer I'm on!)

    Bookmark   January 14, 2013 at 4:43PM
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Fori is not pleased

Put them to the top. You need it and it looks fine. Heck, it'll make your kitchen look taller. :)

    Bookmark   January 14, 2013 at 5:07PM
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To the Ceiling!

    Bookmark   January 14, 2013 at 5:22PM
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39", mounted at standard height, and molding for the rest of the distance. Otherwise a coffee maker and other modern appliances are difficult to fit under the counter by the time you add the light rail that will hide your under counter lighting.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2013 at 5:26PM
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I would increase the space between the countertops and the upper cabinets and I would take the upper cabinets to the ceiling.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2013 at 6:03PM
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I seem to recall something about code being 18in min. between cab and counter. But it may vary by locale, Im sure.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2013 at 6:26PM
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I too have a small kitchen in an older house (built in 1923).
Ours are 7 1/2' ceilings.
Naturally, with such low ceilings, we went as high as we could.
In our case we had to leave room for vent hood ducting so we went with 30" uppers with crown molding above to the ceiling.
They do not overwhelm the room.
If we had taller ceilings we would have gone with taller uppers.
Go as high as you can.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2013 at 6:48PM
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To the ceiling.

That's a rather ingenious DW location. Not ideal, but better than not having on imo.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2013 at 6:51PM
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To the ceiling! We did 39" to the ceiling in our small galley kitchen and we love them - we also have 8 ft ceilings and didn't use any molding. We have a tiny step stool stowed under the sink for the top shelves when needed. The kitchen seems so much bigger with the taller uppers and the extra storage is fantastic.

Here is a link that might be useful: Our Kitchen w/39

    Bookmark   January 14, 2013 at 7:49PM
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I'm short, and my small galley has approx 8' ceilings. I put the counters at standard 36" so I could fit a dishwasher underneath, then set the cabs 17" above the counters and took them to the ceiling. I think they're 42". It actually makes the room look larger.I love having the extra space. I keep a step stool in a nearby closet so I can reach the top shelf.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2013 at 8:11PM
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Go high. Go big. It will absolutely make your kitchen look bigger.

We have 7.5' ceilings and went all the way. Love it!

    Bookmark   January 14, 2013 at 11:54PM
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10x10 kitchen 8 ft ceiling in rental condo we owned. Needed a step stool for top shelf but no one ever complained about the extra storage. Along with all the others I say go to the ceiling and also increase height from countertop to underside of upper cabinet.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2013 at 12:22AM
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Take them up to the ceiling. You will be happy with more storage space. As someone else suggested, you probably want to increase the space between the counter and the cabinets. Check your local codes for the minimum allowed.

We recently re-did a kitchen in our rental condo. It's 8 x 8 and almost the reverse of yours (except for the dishwasher placement). The cabinets do not overwhelm the room and it's a little more closed in than your layout. See the link below for pictures. It's a little hard to see in the before, but the cabinets did not go all the way to the ceiling. There was about a 10 inch gap.

Are you going to try and change your layout or give yourself a little more room? Maybe move the dishwasher?

Here is a link that might be useful: Condo kitchen

    Bookmark   January 15, 2013 at 2:47AM
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Ceiling! You can leave enough room for crown molding if you like. It will make the room look much bigger. My ceilings are only 7 feet high, and the kitchen looks so much better and taller with the cabinets raised all the way.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2013 at 3:13AM
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I'll add the chorus of "to the ceiling!" My ceilings are about 91.5" high. My old kitchen and a soffit, making the ceiling seem lower. I increased the space from counter-cab to the modern norm and took the cabs to the ceiling with a little crown. The ceilings seem much taller, and I love having the extra storage. I store less often used items on the top shelves and keep a little step stool (for me and for the kids' general kitchen use) in our pantry.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   January 15, 2013 at 4:31AM
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We had the same issue when we did our kitchen. We removed the soffit that was there previously.

I believe our uppers are 36" then molding. Our kitchen is 10 x 11 with 3 doorways.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2013 at 8:25AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Not that you need another vote, but definitely to the ceiling...no need to clean up there, added storage space and a much better look. Win..win...win!

    Bookmark   January 15, 2013 at 8:35AM
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My kitchen is about the same size as yours and I did 36" cabinets to the ceiling. I added an extra shelf to each upper cabinet to take advantage of the room. If I had it to do again, I might have gone with 39" cabinets to get another 3 inches of cabinet space up there.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2013 at 8:49AM
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Wow, that was definitive! Thank you all for the responses. And you have convinced me, I will raise the cabinets to something close to the standard height.

I am not in a financial position to change the footprint of the room and do other things I dream of, so the dishwasher will stay where it is. It was a clever fix, but as Pal points out, not ideal.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2013 at 9:12AM
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Another for to the ceiling! Space will probably look like it's bigger with higher ceilings when you remove the horizontal band created by the dropped cabs.
That is a pretty clever placement for the DW. If there's room to recess then DW and add cabinet panel, or bump out the surrounding cabs a few inches so all is flush that area would look great!

    Bookmark   January 15, 2013 at 9:29PM
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I can't put in a molding at the ceiling, but here are your cabs stretched up to the ceiling.

I agree with previous posters. Definitely this would be my choice.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2013 at 9:46AM
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I'm so glad I checked on this thread again. The photoshopping is very helpful, Bellsmom. Thanks!

I never paid much attention to the fact that the dishwasher bumps out. This reno would be a good time to deal with it.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 7:56AM
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