Upper Cabinets--to Ceiling or Not? Please Help!

vickevetteFebruary 8, 2012

I am planning a traditional kitchen, which will have 10-foot ceilings. I plan on having one of the hearth-style hood surrounds that will go to the ceiling, and cannot decide whether the upper cabinets should go all the way to the ceiling or not.

The upper cabinets will be double stacked, with a shorter upper section over a taller lower section. A few of the shorter upper sections will have glass doors.

More storage is not an issue, and since I am doing the double stack on the uppers either way, the cost is about the same.

The room will have a heavy crown molding (which would also serve as the cabinet crown, if they go to the ceiling). The cabinets and millwork will be the same color (white), since the crown molding will form the crown for the range hood--so no issues with color either.

I am mainly wondering how the room will feel. (It is large 15' x 21' and open to adjoining areas--so no worries either way about feeling cramped.)

Does anyone know whether the room feels taller or shorter with the cabinets going to the ceiling--more or less spacious? Will I detract from the focal point of the hood with the taller cabinets, or does the fact that the hood is deeper make it stand out enough?

What factors normally drive this choice?

I am having difficulty visualizing. My old kitchen has the cabinets going all the way up, and I wonder if I do not do that in the new kitchen, if the cabinets will seem "stubby" specially where I am double stacking, where my current upper cabinets do not have the upper and lower sections.

Thanks for any advice/thoughts!

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So his isn't quite your situation, but I'll tell you anyway. I have 91" ceilings. Previously, my kitchen had a soffit. In the new kitchen, we ripped out the soffits and ran the cabs to the ceiling. The room definetly feels taller to me now. Granted, I've got nothing close to 10' though so your case might be entirely different. Just thought I'd share. ;) Your kitchen sounds wonderful!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 5:41PM
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I'm not a designer, but I say go to the ceiling if only for practical reasons. Unless you put in a soffit, cabinets that don't go to the ceiling will just become dust collectors on top. I think the stacked cabinets to the ceiling will look very nice. I have a small galley that used to have a soffit. We got rid of it and took cabs to ceiling. At first I thought it looked more closed in because it was such a change, but now I think the kitchen looks more expansive.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 5:43PM
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I am doing them to the ceiling in my 9' tall kitchen. If it were me and I was able to do the stacked cabinets I might investigate the library rail idea between the two stacked cabinets with a removable library ladder. It would be a great look, plus it would give you access to those upper cabinets.

I just told my cabinetmaker the other day that I'm sure that I will keep nothing in the top part!

I really think that for future resale (which is very difficult to even say those words since we are just breaking ground) they should be as tall as possible. I have just gone through the selling thing, and besides overall square footage of the house, the shorter cabinets were often mentioned. (Keep in mind mine are only 30" tall though with 8' ceilings).

As far as how it will make the space feel, I think just like painting vertical stripes, the veritical lines of the cabinets will cause the space to look even bigger.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 6:06PM
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I think one variable may be what is flanking the hood. If there are windows, open shelves, or bits of backsplash on either side of the mantel, it will be the focal point. If the mantel is in the middle of a run of upppers, the whole massing at the top of the kitchen may be a bit much.

I would search for as many photos of kitchens with high ceilings and mantel hoods as you can to see whether you don't find one that gives you a good idea of what you will get.

A couple of photos of mantel hoods not abutting high cabinets are at the link below, but a canny search of google images should give you many more.

Good luck.

Here is a link that might be useful: thread about hood innards

    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 7:24PM
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I've never thought about this issue before (my ceilings are too low, actually) until DH and I went to an open house last weekend that a friend of ours had built. The first thing DH whispered to me in the (otherwise) gorgeous kitchen was, "Why do you think he didn't make the cabinets go to the ceiling?"

Honestly, I hadn't noticed - but when I did, yes, they looked weird. And as others, including DH, pointed out - dust catchers.

So I'll vote with those who say up to the ceiling.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 8:50PM
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I think the ceiling will feel taller with the cabinets going all the way up. The crown with a space above it will create a stronger visual horizontal than a crown at the ceiling line.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 10:05PM
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Thanks everyone for the advice--all good points. I tend to like my current cabinets, that go all the way up, and I try to keep things I do not often use (Santa's cookie plate, etc.) on the high shelves.

I am most concerned about the wall where the hood will be--it will be flanked by cabinetry on either side, and that will be a big expanse of tall elements all together. I had been planning to do my glass upper door accents on the cabinets on the sink wall, but maybe putting the glass doors on the upper sections on those cabinets by the range will help break it up a bit.

Eugeine11, you are so lucky to have a DH who notices anything about kitchens! I've tried to get mine interested in my cabinet decisions for some time, and sadly, he cannot get past thinking of the kitchen in any more detail than as "that room where food comes from." (sigh..)

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 4:36PM
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i don't have design experience either, but we have 8ft ceilings, & our kitchen is small but i think the cabinets going to the ceiling make it appear more spacious.on both sides of my vent hood i have solid cabinets, but the cabinets near my sink have glass fronts.

in our old house the cabinets didn't go up & i felt like they looked generic & the space was wasted.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 6:37PM
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We have 10' Ceiling and debated about whether or not to take the cabinets all the way up. I'm really glad we did. Also, I think it's a good idea to put the glass on that wall to break it up. Here are some pics of our kitchen. You can also check out our builder's website (stonecrofthomes.net) All of his homes have 10' ceilings, some with cabs all the way up and some without. Hopefully that will help you visualize both options.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 8:47AM
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All the way makes the kitchen look taller. I think you want to emphasize how tall your ceilings are, and I bet you will be able to find things to store up there. It is a gain in function and form. In our previous house, we had a very high vaulted ceiling in our kitchen and had tall cabs, but they were well short of the ceiling. I had the chore of getting on my counters on a short kiddie step stool to get the dust off the tops every few weeks. Not fun.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 10:58AM
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I have 8' ceilings. No soffit, but previously cabs that didn't go to ceiling. 1974, ya' know?

In my rebuild, first I put in 30" cabinets with the 12" open to the ceiling. That's because I was donated 30" cabinets!

Since then, I've acquired (CL) several 42" cabs, which are kind of a center point. I decided I liked the look so much that I got another one (CL) for the left of the stove.

Then, I found some W3612 cabs, that fit over the 18" cabs I had on the other side. This made a stacked look and I love it so much I've put in fake mullions in the previous 3 CL cabs. I got doors that matched at the Community Forklift.

Now I have varied heights. My HVAC doesn't permit all of them to go to the ceiling, but the varied heights add to the not-too-modern look I like.

I keep nothing in the uppers. If I put something up high, I forget I have it. They are purely for the look I like.

Jillandmatt, your kitchen looks like a magazine. Even the photos' lighting is perfect. You've done a beautiful job!

    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 11:59AM
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OP, if to-the-ceiling cabinets will end up looking like those of Jillandmatt, go for it!

Jillandmatt, OMG, your kitchen is strikingly beautiful. Did a local carpenter craft your cabinets or did you use a "national" brand like Crown Point?

    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 12:24PM
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Thanks for the input. Jill thank you especially for sharing your lovely kitchen--it really is gorgeous! Also for the link to your builder's website. I took a look, and it was extremely helpful to see the photos of cabinets going to the ceiling..and not. I have a definitely strong preference for going all the way up after looking at those. I feel very confident about that decision now!

    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 8:29PM
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Glad you made your choice. It is going to be beautiful.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 12:34PM
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