Soffit Solutions?

kmgardFebruary 28, 2014

I need help with our soffit situation. I've posted about our kitchen before, but long story short: We're re-arranging existing cabinets (it's just what makes sense in this market) and painting them. I am adding one IKEA drawer base and will get custom drawer fronts at the end of a run.

We've started ripping things out, but I need to figure out what to do about our soffits. (EDITED TO ADD: There's about 15" of space above the pantries/wall cabinets.) I don't think we can raise the wall cabinets and put a shelf beneath, because that wouldn't work for the pantries surrounding the fridge unless we wanted to build them up, and I'd like to be able to reach everything in the cabinets.) So options, as I see them, are to:

1) Remove soffits completely and have flat, open space above cabinets. (I think staggering the heights with our layout would probably look weird, due to the fact that the pantries are deep, and the other wall cabinets -- including the one above the fridge -- are shallow.)

2) Keep/add soffits above all cabinets, but paint them cabinet color and add crown to the top for simple cabinet illusion. (It will be obvious they aren't really part of the cabinet, but might help them blend in a bit.)

3) Buy cabinet doors to install on soffit studs, giving the illusion that there are small (like 12" high) cabinets above the main cabinets.

I like #3, but I'm afraid it might look weird with my particular type of fugly cabinet doors. I've never seen a double layer of cabinets with such old fashioned doors. Do you think that would look crazy??

Any other potential solutions I'm missing?

Thanks so much!

Elevation of wall in question (We're going with the bottom option, but I left the top one on here because the doors are drawn pretty accurately for reference):

What we're dealing with:

We were originally just going to take down the cabinets over the peninsula and get a new range and hood, but ultimately we decided it would be worth it to open it up completely and remove the peninsula all together. It'll cost more because we now have to continue the wood flooring throughout, but it saves some as well, because we can get a freestanding range (not as attractive, but a better range for $400 less) and a less expensive hood.

So this is where we are now...

This corner wall cabinet is coming out, too. I'm thinking we can take out most of the soffit on this side, with the exception of what will be left above the wall cabinets over the dishwasher. That will have to match with whatever we do on the range/fridge wall:

This is the wall I'm most concerned about with the soffits:

We're pretty set on the new layout at this point for various money-saving reasons, so our main concern right now is finding a creative soffit solution. Any suggestions??

Thanks so much in advance!


This post was edited by kmgard on Fri, Feb 28, 14 at 11:26

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I added some 12" cabinets above my regular, 30" cabinets to get the stacked cabinet look. I didn't have soffits, of I might have tried what you're suggesting.

I don't think it'd look weird at all, as long as over the fridge you had the same height. Age doesn't dictate whether the look works or not.

I also had some 42" cabs. I put a rail in them at 30", then used doors for 30" cabs and above that on that same cabinet, 12" doors for a stacked look. The tall, seamless look didn't go with the door style. I've got a picture somewhere of that. Hold on....

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 11:45AM
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I would NOT do #1. I have that now and it is awful to clean up there. Also, it just doesn't look "fitted".

I do think it would make sense to have the open shelf below raised cabinets - cost- and practicality-wise. If it doesn't work for the pantries you could do some kind of different treatment for them.

I like your cabinets, by the way :) . To me, they have so much more character than the maple Shaker cabinets that I'm ripping out. It will be fun to freshen them up!

Here is a link that might be useful: great soffit solution article

This post was edited by feisty68 on Fri, Feb 28, 14 at 11:57

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 11:56AM
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Maybe 12" cabs, painted the same color as the walls, with slab front doors and "push to open" latches (no hardware). You'd gain the storage, without trying to match the existing uppers. It would look more like soffit than cabinet.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 12:27PM
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Start haunting reuse centers.
I see that style of cabinet really frequently.
You might find something you can take the face off of.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 12:40PM
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If it were me, I think I would just paint the soffits the same color as the cabinets. It doesn't seem cost effective to invest in new cabinets/doors to go with the old cabinets. I am guessing that you are keeping the old cabinets for budget reasons. I'd paint the cabinets and soffits and see how it looks. I assume you are painting them some shade of white. I think it will all blend together, and look nice, bright and clean, for minimal cost.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 12:59PM
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For a budget remodel, just paint the soffits and don't even worry about the crown. Putting doors up there will require that the soffits be reframed to a shallower depth, which is a TON of work with very little reward. You're already doing enough work. Know when to stop yourself.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 1:35PM
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If it were me, I would probably just take out the soffit over the used-to-be peninsula and leave all the others just as they are. I don't find your soffits to be offensive at all! :)

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 2:11PM
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If you paint the soffits to to match the cabinets, they won't stand out at all. Besides, you don't know what is behind the soffit, as far as plumbing and/or electrical. If you remove it, you might find that you need to do some plumbing and electrical work, which can be expensive if you aren't a DIY'er.I don't really mind soffits, I know they are considered dated, but I'd rather a soffit than a space between the cabinets and ceiling, which would just be a dust catcher to me. I would paint the cabinets and change the hardware, those pulls in the center of the doors are very dated, fill in the holes, paint everything and add some inexpensive brushed nickel knobs. Put your floor in and see how it all looks. I wouldn't overspend on it, its going to look amazingly different painted. Maybe a backsplash, you can get ceramic subway tile for very cheap at the big box stores, and some inexpensive under cabinet lighting. Minimal cost, big impact, especially budget friendly if you DIY. Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 3:10PM
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Lots of great info here! Thanks so much! I probably should've clarified a couple more things:

1. Much of the soffit on the fridge wall will have to get demo'd anyway, because as-is, it won't line up with the new cabinet arrangement.

2. We have already partially demo'd the soffit on the fridge wall in the area -- there's nothing in the ones on that side, at least. It's a one-story house so it's unlikely there's anything in any of them.

3. For adding doors to the studs, I don't think we'd have to re-frame them -- we'd just have to knock off all of the plaster, then attach the doors directly to the wood framework/studs, and I think everything would be flush. Definitely more work and money than just painting the soffits, but it's something I'm considering because we have to demo much of the soffits anyway -- it's either adding doors, or re-drywalling. Does that make sense??

4. If I DO add doors, it's not the age of my existing cabinets that I think might make it look funny -- it's the style of the doors themselves. It might look too busy...? I wouldn't need that many doors, though -- just above the wall cabinets and pantries. I don't think it would end up being terribly expensive, and actually less work than re-drywalling.

5. The pulls. UGH, the pulls. Unfortunately, they're screwed into the middle of the center beadboard panel divot, meaning the holes can't simply be filled or there would be an obvious dot right in the center of that divot. The pulls do easily come apart though and I can take that 70's deco style plate off, which improves the look immensely. I think I'm going to try to make that work rather than try to match up the beadboard line with a toothpick after puttying the holes... I think it would look really obvious.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 3:30PM
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P.S. I actually really like this soffit solution that feisty68 posted:

Can anyone figure out how they did that molding between the upper cabinets and the beadboard soffits? Looks like it would make a great ledge for framed artistic prints!

P.S.S. Yes, I think we're going to paint the cabinets some kind of white or off-white.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 3:38PM
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That beadboard is nice! However, your doors have some beadboard look to them, it might not match up right. As for putting new doors above the upper cabinets, I think they might make your current doors look old. Not to sound snarky, but your current doors are a bit dated looking, paint will really make them look better, but still, the basic shape of them, is....dated. No offense, I had a very similar door on my cabs until my recent refacing job. Rather than spend the money on new doors above the cabinets, what about buying new paint grade doors for your current cabinets? That would solve your problem of the hardware in the center, You could even take the center panels out of some or all of the top cab.doors and get glass inserts. That would be very pretty!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 3:49PM
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Most soffits of that era were framed when the home was framed. Meaning they didn't do the walls and ceiling drywall and then attach boxes and cover them with drywall. What that means is that you cannot remove the drywall from them and replace it with wood. You've got to cover them with drywall and then wood, which would take the depth too far out in front of the existing doors. (It's a fire code issue.)

Now, if you can look up through the soffits and not see into the attic insulation, and see drywall on the ceiling and wall behind them, then it would be OK to attach doors directly to the studs. But, I don't think you'd be able to match your doors that well. And I also don't think that using a different door for that would be all that successful.

Just treating the soffit with a beadboard similar to the doors and trimming it off with molding and painting the whole thing the cabinet color would probably be the easiest and most successful route to unifying the kitchen.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 4:01PM
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It doesn't sound snarky at all -- it's the TRUTH. They are dated as hell. :) I wasn't talking about putting a new style of doors up there -- I meant finding ones (which I've come close online) that match these doors. But then I was thinking that might just be too much of an already-not-great thing.

live_wire_oak you are absolutely right -- We DO have to drywall the wall/ceiling because they're built into the walls. I thought about that, but didn't think about that, if that makes sense. I was still thinking we could utilize the studs at the front of the soffits, but there's no way to do that without leaving a hole in the ceiling.

I'm definitely leaning towards ripping them out where they're not above cabinets, and then treating them with the beadboard and molding -- even though it will stick out a bit in front of the wall cabinets -- will be the way to go.

Does anyone know what kind of trim that is in the picture above? The stuff between the wall cabinets and the beadboard...?

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 5:22PM
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Maybe something like robin_d's kitchen if you scroll down a bit in this thread? She used something called "plate rail"...? Then I could put the beadboard above and crown on top....

Here is a link that might be useful: robin_d's plate rail

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 5:24PM
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I was going to suggest the beadboard, too. It looks great and would be a better payoff visually than the whole fake door thing.

So, if I'm reading correctly, you are painting the cabs.. why can't you fill the handle screws holes and paint right over them, then attach new handles on the frame?

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 7:43PM
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Yes even if the handle holes are right in the middle of a beadboard groove - a good wood fill like elmers is easy to shape with something like a razor blade and sand so that its totally unnoticeable under paint - easy!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 9:19PM
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I was thinking the same thing, regarding filling in the holes on the doors. Even if the holes are in the groove of the panel, you should be able to smooth out some putty over it and fill them in. Once painted, with new hardware on the frames they will have a very different look. From the looks of it, you are pretty handy, this is a puttying chore that you could do fairly easily I would think. I get the impression that the current placement of the handles is the main thing you don't like about those doors, so why go through all that work just to put new handles back on the center of the door when you dislike that look? You have nothing to lose by trying it out on one door, you can always scrape/sand it out and redrill the hole if it doesn't come out to your liking. I think once you get them painted and the hardware on the frames, you are going to be amazed at the difference!

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 8:40AM
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What's on the backside of the doors? Maybe they could be flipped around/ hinges reattached.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 12:14PM
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I just remembered something you might be interested in, regarding beadboard on the soffits. Not long ago I saw some postings (not sure which site) about bead board wallpaper. Now, trust me, I am not a fan of wallpaper, I've removed more of it over the years than I care to remember. But this looked good, its a thick wallpaper, not sure if its vinyl or paper, but it is grooved just like the real wood and can be painted. That might be a good option for you, since there was a concern that the real wood beadboard would protrude out over the cabinets. I saw some photos of it installed in bathrooms and kitchens, it looked great. I found some for sale in HD not long ago, when I was considering doing a bead board ceiling in my kitchen. I thought the beadboard paper would be a lot easier and less costly, although in the end we left the ceiling as is. (for now, anyway, I still haven't ruled it out) It was not expensive and might work for you. Since you are painting, not staining, I think it would blend well and look good. Might be worth taking a look at if you get to one of the big box stores.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 2:29PM
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I'll consider attempting to fill the holes and get new hardware when it comes time to paint (maybe try a practice door), but I'm one of those women who could easily lose a "simple" craft contest to a 5-year-old. :)

The doors can't be flipped -- they're partial inset, unfortunately.

I think I just got an eye twitch reading about adding wallpaper -- ha! I'm in the midst of trying to remove the paper from the plaster walls in that room (it's in a separate thread), and it is NOT going well. Thanks for the info, though! Since we had to partially take down the soffits anyway for the rearrangement of cabinets, we ended up knocking the plaster off of ALL of them and just leaving the studs where we're going to put it back up. Since the plaster was over an inch thick -- maybe even close to 2", I'm hoping some thinner drywall will keep them from coming past the cabinets. If they don't, though, I'm definitely going to look into the paper. I might anyway, just to save a buck, but I have a feeling I'd be horrific at installing it properly.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 8:16AM
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Trust me, I know the feeling when it comes to wallpaper! So hard to remove, I promised myself no matter what, I would never use wallpaper again! But the beadboard wallpaper is a different story, I think up high on the soffits you would never notice it wasn't the real thing.. But since you've knocked out the plaster in the soffits, you should be able to put real wood beadboard up there if you want it. As for filling in the hardware holes, I really think this would not be too hard. If you have the old doors from the cabinets above the peninsula you took out, practice on them first. With the putty, just apply lightly, let dry, then add more if needed. I found the trick to filling in holes is not too stuff a big blob in there, that makes for a lot of sanding. Doing a few smaller amounts makes for less sanding and a neater job. Smooth it in the groove with your finger, let it dry and take a look. If it needs more, repeat until its right. Then, sand the groove carefully with a folded piece of sandpaper. You can do it, believe in yourself!

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 9:51AM
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