short uppers over a counter. love them or hate them?

deedlesFebruary 8, 2013

Who out there has short uppers over their counter/peninsula that could tell me about having them. Do you like them or wish they were gone? It seems I've read about people wanting them out, but not so much the other way. Pics would be great, but real life experience is needed. I'd want some high enough that I wouldn't have to duck to see people on the other side. But I don't want to build in something that I'd regret after the fact.

Hope to get both sides weighing in. Thanks!

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When we looked at this house to buy with the breakfast bar regular chair height and 24 inch cabinets above it was 'take them down, raise the bar to counter height'. We soon realized how nice it was to sit at the table height counter with regular chairs and easy to pull another chair up to with guests instead of climbing up to a counter height and necessitating bar stools.
As for the upper cabinets keeping them with our present renovation. Love their storage and you don't need to duck your head to see into the kitchen or dining room. Bottom of ours are about 5 ft from the floor. If we had regular counter height than they would block your vision.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 8:58PM
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Would you consider having glass doors on both sides? I saw a photo somewhere with this and it made it feel more open rather than closed off.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 9:17PM
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I'm remembering your drawing and it seemed like a very large kitchen with a lot of cabinets. Are you concerned that you won't have enough storage without the over-peninsula cabs?

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 9:17PM
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You mean like this:



These old cabs didn't really block my view, and it was only into my dining area, and I never thought much about that. I realized that I had enough cabinet space and didn't really utilize the space over my peninsula, so I decided to get rid of it and the soffit from which it hung. Even though it never bothered me that much, the way it opened the space was really amazing and made my small kitchen feel more spacious.

I kept the old cabinet and had it hung in the garage, so I didn't really lose any storage.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 9:22PM
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I LOATHE them. Always in your face. But, I'm 6', not 5', so that may have a bearing on my deep hatred of them.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 9:24PM
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katy-b: thanks for that information, that's very helpful.

may-flowers: there were more cabinets until DH decided to take the end wall down for a more open feel. Now, without that wall I feel like I'm naked in the kitchen with no where to hide. See? This is how it was:

This is without the wall at the end (and the beams and post are currently out of the plan, too). That is where the shorter uppers would go, where the full wall used to be.

Cathy725: definitely on the glass front and back if I go this route. Maybe lights inside, too. I agree, it's more open, and esp. having the LR on the other side it feels like a more 'finished' look, too.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 9:34PM
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linelle: that really did make a nice difference. I'm open on the dining side, too and that's fine. Just wide open on two side is too much for me, I guess. Maybe 'cause I grew up in the days of a kitchen with 4 walls and a doorway?

Livewire: my sister has some and I kind of loathe hers as they are in your face. I'd make sure these were above my face. DH is 6'5'' though, but he'd be seated on the other side waiting for dinner most the time.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 9:55PM
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My previous kitchen had short uppers over a peninsula. You can see in the attached picture that the center cabinet was even shorter than the two side cabinets. It worked well for that layout especially because the cabinets opened on both sides. My dishes were in the two side cabinets. I could unload my dishwasher into them on the kitchen side and easily access the dishes on the other side for setting the table.
I do not have cabinets like that in my new kitchen because I no longer have that u-shaped but the short uppers worked well when I did have them.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 10:10PM
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Fori is not pleased

I love the look.

The function...well, I had them in the house I grew up in, as did many of my generation. My mother (~5'4") HATED them because the doors were always left open and hit her in the head (and those old cabinet doors with the lipped edges were sharp!). Me? They swing over my head, I can reach the bottom shelf, I can see under them no problem.

If you're doing them in glass, consider having the doors on the outside of the work area. Or sliding doors. Yeah I was traumatized hearing my dear mom swear so much. So I do think doors hitting heads can be an issue. She was just the wrong height for them.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 10:26PM
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I don't know if this helps or not; my example and photos are much like linelle's above. The cabinets didn't bother me, but I'm only 5'4''. DH is 5'10''and they drove him crazy. I didn't realize how much better it would look or feel until they were gone. (Note: both these pics are from pre-2010 remodel where we go rid of the peninsula altogether)


    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 10:36PM
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I painted mine and took the doors off (both sides) to give a less heavy appearance.
While I do not hate them, I don't love them either. It's nice to have the display/storage space.
When we redo our kitchen I plan on having them removed. I want it to feel more Linelle's,(love!)

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 11:51PM
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Thanks everyone for the pics and the info. It's sounding like the height of the cabs is the most important functional consideration. Then the doors (Sliders! Great idea!) and then aesthetically, glass on both sides to lighten it up visually. I'm hearing the sentiment "taking (or took)them down to make it more open" and I'm desiring just the opposite, so maybe some short cabs over the peninsula IF they are placed carefully and the right height, would work for me? I do appreciate the real life info...

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 5:57AM
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Molly Phillips

I don't have them, never did, so I don't have a dog in this fight, but as I read through the responses and looked at examples, it occurred to me that they may not be that helpful for storage if you kept them a) high enough not to bother anyone (would that mean no one could really access them without a stool?) or b) you couldn't store anything useful other than dishes because they would be open and on display in order to look light and feel open. And if they were high enough to stay out of everyone's way, could family members get to them easily? Do you have young kids you want to set the table?

I would think carefully about what you put in there before committing to them for those reasons. Also, consider what you're adding in terms of storage everywhere else. You may find you'll have plenty with the new, more functional cabinets. I would hate to see you pay for more cabinets than you need!

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 8:36AM
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I removed a very large pot rack above a peninsula which was in a general sight line of the space[and was providing substantial storage of good looking pots-copper/etc.] Once I cleared areas elsewhere to store the pots, I was happy to notice the"clearing" and airiness for the space that ensued.You might think glass doors would help such cabinet work,but in a way it might make it worse as the constant view of the product stored is what i got sick of. If the space is large and this is one element placed off to the side and you absolutely need the storage,that is a factor. If an alternative is possible for storage,you will far more appreciate the more open ambience.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 8:48AM
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I hate mine and can not wait until they go. Ours have glass on both sides but it still cuts down on natural light from that part of the kitchen. We keep glasses in it and when kids put glasses away, if one side isn't closed all the way or the kid in question is hurrying, sometimes a glass is pushed out the other side. I have lost quite a few glasses.

I think your kitchen looks spacious and airy without the wall, I wouldn't want to close it off.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 9:34AM
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What if you made a "look thru" rather than fully open. The drawing looks like you could do something where maybe you had some cabinets on each side and then have an arch opening in the middle. It would be more like an open window thru to the living room rather than having it completely open? Then it could be easy to use that counter as a pass-thru or drink area when having parties, but be just a bit less open?

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 9:48AM
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I'm 5'4" and could only easily access the lower shelf when I had my cab above the peninsula. So up top I kept rarely to never used items, and I had to climb onto the counter to reach them. I realized I didn't need to store them in my kitchen in the first place (e.g., apple peeler/corer I use once a year when Gravenstein apples are in season).

Since I have a G-shaped kitchen, it's virtually enclosed on all sides. Functionally it's like a cockpit and works great for me. Even though I didn't change the footprint of my kitchen, the feeling of spaciousness gained without the hanging cab (and the odious soffit) was remarkable. Glass may help reduce its bulk, but it's still a growth hanging from the ceiling.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 9:55AM
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Where you took down the wall, is there going to be a bar or eating area? I think if there are people, you'll reorient towards that side and appreciate that it's open for you to interact.
Also, slightly unrelated: Are you determined to have the two half walls? I don't know what it looks like in real life, but on the picture, it looks to me like a maze of three low barriers with the half wall, peninsula, and then the counter/range area.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 10:27AM
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lovetodream: (I like your screen name) Your storage point is well taken. It is just DH and I, I'm 5'8 and he's 6'5 so he could reach whatever I didn't feel like climbing for. Super useful storage in that spot is not my primary goal: some openness without feeling like I'm totally exposed is what I want. And maybe some decorative or kind of useful storage can work into it. I guess I want some structure to the openness, if that makes sense. Thinking carefully is definitely in order, you are correct there.

Herbflavor: I understand your point, too. Maybe when we get the area gutted, I can stand there and mock up some cardboard box counters and that will change my mind based on real life. Right now I'm reacting to the rendering of the space and I'm getting such a 'concession stand' feeling. If I have a good options in advance for either wide open or built in, then when it comes to decision time in the actual space, at least I'll have a couple directions to go in.
LauraNJ: Good info about the stuff coming through the other side. Never thought of that. Also the reduction of light is a factor as my kitchen does not have a ton of light due to the deep roof overhangs. Thank you.
Cathy725: You've suggested exactly what my brain was starting to wonder about. Open but not agoraphobic open. And the possibility of closing it entirely somehow if DH is on the couch sleeping to the blaring Hitler (History) channel and I want to listen to the radio when I cooking. I wonder if anyone remembers the Mary Tyler Moore show and her awesome pull-down stained glass window? It slid up into the wall like a vertical pocket door.

linelle: Mine is wide open on the peninsula side almost all the wall. We are removing the wall between that part of the kitchen and what will be our dining 'porch' area. I could see how nice it would be to open up an area that was all closed in but I'll already have so much open that it just makes me feel kinda exposed. But like I said before, maybe when we gut this area and I can really stand in it, I'll decide it's not bad at all being open. Just like to have my duck options in a row before that. And, I know these renderings make that kitchen look bigger than it really is. It's only 140x190.

Here is the pull down window from the MTM show:

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 10:36AM
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And open.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 10:37AM
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nosoccermom: That area is TBD, but will be open in the center with some vertical posts (structural). We're just now starting to talk about how to approach that so thank you for your impression. It does lend a certain 'amusement park ride waiting line' feel the way it looks now, doesn't it.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 10:42AM
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concession stand feeling

Well put. You definitely don't want that! I'll have the garlic fries. :)

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 10:44AM
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No fries!! CHEEPS!

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 10:47AM
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invest in lots of forehead bandages if you do this.

my mom updated our 1972 home in 1984 and put hanging upper. my poor father's forehead. whap. bang. ow.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 10:59AM
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I know this is not what you want to hear but taking down that wall looks very odd especially with the half walls and arched opening. It is too open but not open enough.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 12:26PM
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athomeinva: I agree, it does look odd, IMO. That's what is sending me down this road of building it back up but trying to leave it open, if that makes any sense. Maybe the two tone cabs aren't working with this new open layout? Maybe all wood uppers and lowers? Blah.

Here's what I don't want it to feel like:

"you slip me a bottle of bourbon, a small glass and some ice, Lloyd"

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 12:45PM
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Maybe the two-tone cabs do have something to do with the oddness. The rendition with the wall down reminded me of a concession stand in a movie theatre. The separate color seems intentional to draw attention to it. Again, why the half walls?

I'm not a designer, but it seems there's a simple solution to this, a tweak that will give you exactly what you want.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 1:43PM
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Oh, the half walls are between the kitchen and the dining porch. There is a step down there onto the porch. We're still playing around with what to do with the opening there so those walls in the image are not the final deal by any means. Maybe I should try changing the color of the white uppers on the stove run?

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 1:51PM
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Fori is not pleased

Ummmm...just how attached to this plan are you? It seems like the kitchen pod itself is good, but it's in an unusual location.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 1:53PM
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I agree with the majority above. Sorry to say it but taking the wall down just to put half uppers there does not look good. I realize a lot of kitchens were done that way in the past in order to maximize storage in cramped spaces, but its a big mistake to go for that look on purpose, IMO.

I think you should either keep the walls if you want the separation, or embrace the openness with a better design if you want the wall down. But taking the wall down and closing it in with uppers makes no sense to me ... it's giving you the worst of both worlds.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 1:57PM
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Just read fori's post and agree. It's the whole 'pod' thing that's not working in an open concept space.

What if you post the overall layout including the adjoining spaces, which walls you can and can't remove, and see what design you can come up with there from scratch? Perhaps there is something better, likely a completely different layout perhaps with a separating island or some such, that would work better in the space?

At least that way you'd know what your optimal open concept plan could be and you can compare it to your existing and (already wonderfully optimal) separate rooms plan. And once you see them both side by side you could probably make the best decision about which one with best suit your family's needs for the long term.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 2:04PM
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I agree with athomeinva. I loved your "how it was" rendering. Not so much with the extra wall gone. I agree, I wouldn't want the kitchen open to all comers from two sides. And it seems to me you lose a lot of functional storage by taking out that extra wall.

If you were going to lose that wall, maybe a big island would work better, instead of the L shape part (the peninsula and the part under the former wall). Less bar-like. If you do want it that open, then wouldn't you want to be able to get into the kitchen from that other room?

Of course the advantage of your husband's plan is that you could put in a tip jar to help offset the cost of the remodel.

I'll have a Beefeaters martini, up, two olives, please.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 2:10PM
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Deedles, I'm a little confused. It sounds like you're the main cook in the family, you would prefer to have the wall remain, and your DH made an executive decision to remove the wall even though you, the cook, would like it to remain? I'd start by dealing with that but obviously I don't know the dynamics of your marriage!

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 2:13PM
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fori: it's kind of an unusual small house. Who'da thunk one wall could bork a whole YEARS WORTH OF PLANNING?
taggie and taggie: Ok, see my open floor plan below. red x's are unchangeable. blue walls are exterior and unchangeable. blue diamonds are the traffic patterns through the house.
ginny: yup. maybe a re-think (dear Lord please) is in order.
It's almost happy hour, you want two right away or a token?
Artichokey: DH didn't make an executive decision, he thought it would be good to have it more open which was originally what I wanted but at that time a year+ ago he didn't think it would work structurally,etc. He said he'd like to be able to sit at a counter somewhere so we could be together and not separated by walls. I don't necessarily want the wall. Or not want the wall. I'm trying to make the great layout that I had WITH the wall now work WITHOUT it and maybe these guys are right and I should try to go back to the drawing board. Uuhhhhh. My DH is very sweet most of the time and if I'm happy with the kitchen he'll be happy. And of course I want him happy and hey, if he wants to be able to sit by his old wife and talk to her when she's cooking, how couldn't I want to indulge that. ;)

My challenges in this kitchen:

3 entries that can't change.
Main entry to the house goes through the kitchen.

What worked in the other layout was:

having my prep/cooking space out of the traffic flow. I hate trying to cook with people under my feet. Although, to be honest, that usually only happens maybe 10 times a year at the most.
I also am sick of trucking back and forth across real estate and I was liking my little 'cockpit' U area.
I had a good amount of storage and space for my coveted all fridge and freezer drawers.

Should I post this here or start a whole new thread?

This post was edited by deedles on Sat, Feb 9, 13 at 17:15

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 4:42PM
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Oh, of course, Deedles - I remember your post about your husband changing his mind after a year to what you originally wanted! After I read it, I spent some time thinking about it because my family tends to argue over whose idea was whose originally instead of just being happy when someone changes his/her mind. I'm glad that it's worked out.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 1:06AM
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