What to do with these shelves?

KooopsMarch 9, 2014

We are in the process of some home improvements and a mini kitchen update is sneaking into the plans.

I am finally getting ready to paint these oranged-out cabinets! I decided on BM Linen White but tinted x 2 (happy mistake from paint store). We are getting new island cabinetry, I'm staying with black but doing a butcher block counter. The island will grow in size to accommodate seating for 4 and we are putting on a small addition bumping out an eating area where you see the wing chair.

We also took down a wall between the kitchen and family room to change traffic flow through there.

I hate the open shelves on either side of the sink. I was thinking of closing them up with some type of pediment like I pictured. I didn't want to bring it down to the counter though, just ending it with the bottom of the cabinet. Any other ideas on how we can cover or alter them?

Kitchen when we moved in (no longer have ugly curtains!)
See shelves above sink.

Pediment option

Here is the color I'm pretty sure I'm going with. I painted a bath vanity for practice- they are the same cabinets as my kitchen.

Using cabinet coat paint which went on really nicely

This post was edited by Kooops on Sun, Mar 9, 14 at 15:21

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Really nice job painting your doors. They look perfect. No design ideas for you-I'm sure others will.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 4:19PM
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romy- thank you! I'm slowly working up the nerve to do the entire kitchen. Just thinking through the process in regards to having space to paint and lay out to dry and not be bothered by the cat or kids!

Painting 2 doors from a vanity is far different from the work involved in doing the entire kitchen! I need to just suck it up and get on with it.....as soon as the dust settles from our addition which is under way.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 5:25PM
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Really beautiful color! (Talk to BM about tinting Cabinet Coat).

Are you keeping the pretty curtains? I'm asking because they've got a kind of country vibe, whereas those really nice pediments are more formal. At least to me.

OTOH, what the heck! I'm also not a fan of those types of shelves. You got nuttin to lose!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 11:11PM
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Are those shelves curved in the front? I can't quite tell, but I know ours are. Wouldn't that look pretty weird if you put a straight pediment next to it, you'd have this odd gap at the front. Not that I don't agree about the basic uselessness of that kind of shelf.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 7:10AM
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Sophie Wheeler

Just remove them. And the crown. Then you can do a more elaborate built up crown. No to the valance. Too too for your space.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 7:39AM
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Those curtains were the previous owners and are no longer in the kitchen.

Yes, the shelf is curved in the front but it doesn't matter because if we were to face it with the boards to make the pediment, we would cut the shelves back to make the pediment flush with the front of the cabinet or remove the shelves all together and build the pediment.

There is no option to remove them as the back splash comes up and around the bottom. This is a black splash the previous owner put in and I don't have any tiles left over. Also, if they were just removed, there would be a big empty space from the cabinet to the window edge and I think it would look strange.

The reason I thought of a pediment is because we built cabinetry in the adjacent family room and connected the 2 built ins with a kind of pediment. I was thinking we could mimic this in the kitchen.

Ignore table in there- we are in the process of putting on an addition and my kitchen table is in the family room.

I agree that the orange cabinets and country curtains and other décor appear country but we're looking to transition it to more of a traditional look.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 9:21AM
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I was with hollysprings' suggestion to simply remove the shelves till you posted the pic showing how the tile is worked around them. Given that, I think your plan to box them in would work nicely. If you're moving away from the country vibe I agree you don't need/want the shelves. And especially as you're painting cabs white and the shelves flank your window, they will likely show every speck of pollen & dust and require constant cleaning.

BTW, your test cabinet looks great and your home is lovely. Love the built-ins in your family room!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 9:37AM
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Thanks amck!

Maybe something like this? I'm scouring houzz for options. If only it was in the budget to get a whole new kitchen!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 10:15AM
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You can find travertine tile just about anywhere, actually. But, I'd actually suggest removing the tile and doing something different. The pink in the stone clashes with the gold in the granite. I'd remove the shelves as well. There is nothing wrong with a good wide reveal of painted surface around a window. It's a personal preference of mine to never crowd a window molding. It makes the kitchen claustrophobic. And that's why I wouldn't add anything across the windows. That would also close in the kitchen.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 10:28AM
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Thanks for the input. Ugh...just not sure what to do with them. I'm not sold on the pediment, see barriers to removing them all together, and really don't want to just keep them.....

live_wire_oak- my dh would NEVER go for a back splash re-do. I suppose I could try to find a good match if we were to remove the shelves and fill in that spot, but no way will he go for changing the backsplash. We have so many other jobs lined up and the budget and tolerance for disruption is maxed out, LOL!

The stone actually doesn't look pink at all IRL. I think it could be the filter on the camera app on my phone. The stone has quite a yellow look to it. I don't like it but I'll live with it and hope that taking away the orange cabinets and replacing with the creamy white will change the overall feel of it.

Thanks for the thoughts!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 2:15PM
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You could send the one on the left to me. I've been trying to find one that I can paint to match my cabinets.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 1:45PM
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I can't tell in any of your other pictures, but is there *anywhere* else in the kitchen that that top of the backsplash is repeated? I'm not seeing a reason to just remove that top "border" edge right there by the sink and replace just that little section with some other (common) travertine--maybe even in a subway shape, or pencil...

Even if the top border does show up somewhere else in the kitchen, if it isn't everywhere, it would be an easy fix and not expensive.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 3:00PM
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Try painting the shelves first. They may look better if they were white.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 7:30PM
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I'd try what kirkhall suggested first. It's the easiest, lowest cost suggestion and if it doesn't work then consider a pediment or changing out the B/S.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 7:58PM
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I'm confused. Painting the shelves isn't the easiest and least expensive?

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 10:39PM
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I wouldn't know what to do with those little shelves either, (except get annoyed when they needed dusting.)

I'm going to agree with Live_Wire_Oak, because I don't think it would look funny at all to remove the shelves and leave the space open. I think windows look better with a bit of visual breathing space around them.

I might be wrong, but from your photo it looks like the field of diagonal backsplash tile stops at the bottom of the shelves. If that's right, and you removed the shelves, the only break in the tile will be the top border tiles.

Maybe you could remove the existing border tiles, and find a different border tile that coordinates (but doesn't exactly match.) Then you could rebuild the border all the way to your cabinet. Borders are often a slightly different color anyway.

I was thinking you could find a tile with the same rustic texture, but deliberately darker, as that might tie into the darker color of the accent tiles in the backsplash, and the darker color in your granite. Then it could look like a planned feature of the backsplash...?

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 12:55AM
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So after your suggestions and examining the tile, I do think its quite possible to remove them and remove the top square tile and add a different border tile to either side of the sink.

I will have to try to photo shop what it will look like with nothing there. It's 10-11 inches to the window trim without the shelf. Does that seem like too much space?

I'm hoping these shelves come off without a fight. If they do, I could just remove them and see what it looks like and live with it for a while to make a decision.

Thanks for the ideas!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 9:33AM
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I forgot to say, wonderful job on painting those vanity doors. I'll be painting all of our cabinets, and your photos will inspire me to try to do work as nice as yours.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 9:42AM
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I don't think it would be hard to find more traveltine tiles like the ones you have, or something with same color, but smaller pattern, perhaps with a colored glass stone.

I'll repost a picture of my pattern, which is outdoor, and has 3 shades of blue/green. I also saw patterns with brown glass, which would match your granite.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 10:02AM
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mudhouse- thank you! I was glad to have doors to practice on. Gives me confidence that I can do it and do it right! Of course I'm so nervous to tackle the entire kitchen- just seems like a daunting job! Good luck with your job.

bookwork- very pretty tile! There is an accent tile in this backsplash that is a bronze color. I could pick up on that or the other colors in the travertine. I just don't love this backsplash.....at all!

I did a very crude photoshop of the wall without the shelves- what do you think? Is it too much space? Should I hang something there? Leave it open? The walls will be painted a caramel color when the cabinets are painted, so that will give it a good contrast. I guess it may take getting used to.

I did just examine the potential removal- doesn't look too bad but the crown will need re-working.

Currently. The plastic tarp hanging to the right is where our addition is currently being built.


    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 11:13AM
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I have to say that it does look a bit disproportional without the shelves, not to mention that the molding would need to be shortened.
I'd probably inclined to just paint it white and put herbs on those shelves....
Or could you do something like this, i.e. moving the top cabinet closer to the window and sneaking IKEA open shelves (9" regular or wine rack) in between cabinet and wall? Not sure if this wouldn't look weird, too.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 11:45AM
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Aaaactually, I sort of agree with you that it might be TOO much space left behind, for your small kitchen.

Here is a thought: What about modified pediments, smaller in scale, that only go to the bottom of your cabs? I don't think a to-scale valance would be too much in your kitchen. Pediments to the countertop might be too much, but I bet you could get some sort of detailing in place where the shelves were.

Of course, there is always artwork, too...vertical metal sculptures or paintings.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 12:02PM
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I like a little breathing room, and really like your photoshopped pic! I think the window looks crowded as is.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 12:05PM
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yes...I agree with you both, I think it's too much empty space.

nosoccermom- the wine shelf was a thought of mine but I wasn't sure I'd like the clutter of wine bottles all lined up there either.

greenhaven- yes, my original plan was smaller scale pediment and only to the base of the cabinetry.

I will have to try to photoshop a pediment and see how it looks. I'm using inadequate software because my new laptop isn't set up just yet.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 12:20PM
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I still don't mind the empty space at all, but my cabinets crowd both sides of my window over the sink, so maybe I'm bringing my own emotional issues into the conversation! :-)

Another idea (color of travertine I used for a border isn't quite right, but you get the idea.)

I do agree it would probably be a pain to change the crown molding at the top though...

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 12:40PM
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Just playing...!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 1:00PM
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Sorry foramblues- didn't see your comment when I posted! I go back and forth between liking the space and thinking it's too much. I found a photo online that has similar space and I like it.

Traditional Kitchen by Portland Kitchen & Bath Designers Craftsman Design and Renovation

Maybe it's the high cabinetry and the carrying of the crown across??

mudhouse- THANK YOU for taking time to mock up ideas! Both are OK. My issue with the tile is carrying tile, I'm already not a big fan of, up and around to window and be more of a spectacle! The curtain does help to fill the space. I was thinking of bamboo blinds eventually??

I mocked up a pediment. This is a very crude rendering, but kind of gives the idea. First of all, the orange cabinets ruin everything for me, but imagine this in cream and I might like it. I could scale down the vertical sections to show more wall and even scale back the top portion a bit.


    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 1:24PM
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Good point about adding more tile you don't love!

Your mock up does help me visualize your idea, and I think it could be pretty.

I also like your photo above with the cream cabinets. In that room the painted wall is a warm color with a sense of presence. In your mockup with your current cabinets, the orange cab color is sort of beating your wall color back in submission, so I think that contributes to the wall space feeling "empty." In other words, depending on how you paint your walls after you paint your cabinets, the wall space around the window might feel completely different to you.

Also in that photo the wall color is "framed" at the top with the white crown molding, but they have that luxury since their cabs go all the way to the ceiling. Yours don't, so adding some overhead wooden valance might be a good idea.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 1:49PM
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I think once everything is white the space will seem less disconnected. Right now you are looking at it as if something is missing because you are used to seeing something there!

Trying to connect the areas with your pediment idea may not be necessary once everything is all one color and cohesive. Your other options are to make the actual window bigger or build up the moulding and crown around the window itself, so it's more prominent.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 1:50PM
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I don't necessarily think it's too much space, but having the angled cabinet at the end makes is seem awkward to me. And it makes the cabinet to the right look way too small.

I do think the color change will make a huge difference.

How about this? How about keep the shelves, but square off the rounded corners and enclose them on the room side. It keeps the proportions the same, but reduces the cluttered feel. And it eliminates the feeling of "I'm trying to hide something" that I was getting from the pediment idea. You'll still have shelves, but they would not be nearly as prominent.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 2:15PM
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Just a rough visual of what I meant about the paint color and the cream cabinets.

Left side without pediment, right side with pediment.

(Hopefully I will do a better job of "painting" my own cabinets than I did yours...!)

(edited to make the valance a bit wider...not sure how the proportions should go.)

This post was edited by mudhouse on Wed, Mar 12, 14 at 15:03

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 2:55PM
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No worries, Kooops, I'm pretty hit or miss these days anyway (and notifications aren't working for me). I have a suggestion for you: mock up a wooden valance with cardboard boxes. I don't love the way they look (a matter of preference), but I really dislike how they feel. I had the contractor tear a valance out when one unexpectedly turned up in my new (in 1994) kitchen, because I felt claustrophobic standing at the sink. My vote would be to remove the shelves and put up a tailored Roman shade (a mock shade or tailored fabric valance would work if sun/privacy aren't issues) over the window to soften it a bit.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 3:46PM
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"greenhaven- yes, my original plan was smaller scale pediment and only to the base of the cabinetry."

So much for my highly original ideas, lol!!!

Trying to connect the areas with your pediment idea may not be necessary once everything is all one color and cohesive. Your other options are to make the actual window bigger or build up the moulding and crown around the window itself, so it's more prominent. - lesmobo

mudhouse's mockup tends to make me agree with lesmobo, that once the colors are in place it will feel less "empty" there, and that a pediment might indeed start to feel heavy.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 4:26PM
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I'm not sure, but the drawer in the picture of the white door standing up on the counter looks like cherry to me. Agree that the cabinets look orange in the picture with the country curtains, but I think that's mainly b/c of the greenish wall color. Seems a shame to paint what look like solid cherry (?) cabinets. How about painting the walls instead? Or have you? I can't tell from the mockups if you just Photoshopped a beige wall, and can't tell in the closeup pictures.

Agree that if you remove the shelves there's too much open space around the window - builder made my kitchen window too small (I kept changing it on the plans and he won when it came time for him to order the window, and it drives me crazy). But since it looks like the front of the shelves are flush with the cabinet faces, you really can't square them off, unless you cut them back at the start of the curve and put in another piece of wood (side wall) that will probably be set back farther from the face of the cabinets.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 4:32PM
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Is the family room connected to the kitchen? If so, I would do the pediment.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 4:48PM
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^^ yup, that looks great, too! I know, I am no longer any help at all. :o/ Glad it is you and not me that has to decide!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 4:58PM
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mudhouse....Ahhh, just seeing the cream color in your mock up makes me smile!!!!

I don't know. I'm having such a hard time over this!
I don't think I could square them off. I would have to build new squared shelves if I wanted square- which I actually think would be an improvement over the rounded.

ajsmama- I do think they are cherry- but they are orange, very orange. I don't want to stain darker and I have ALWAYS wanted a white kitchen. This is my 3rd house and I've decided to do it. I am not one to care about painting good wood. I know for many it is a crime!

Yes, my family room is open to the kitchen. As I've said, we are under construction now. Here are some shots of the layout. Excuse the huge mess- obviously the kitchen table is not usually in the family room.

Standing near fridge- you can see the window in question and the way the room opens to family room. We just had a wall taken down and a beam put up. We plan on a half wall behind couch area however.

Standing in family room looking into kitchen. Family room will get new hardwood to flow into kitchen.

View of new addition where we want to move eat -in -area

We also want to expand island into large open space where the table used to sit. I have so many questions on this as well...sigh. And now the electrician is coming tomorrow so I have light questions that probably need a new thread. Thanks everyone for the thoughts!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 5:45PM
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Oh, in regards to the window. I would love to have made it bigger, wish I would have thought of that before my builder tore off and put back on the siding for the addition part. And ordered our addition windows with a bit of a long lead time! :-/

The other concern I have with removing the shelves and leaving the space, is that corner cabinet on the left. I'm getting used to the space- kind of liking it. But that corner cabinet would look strange to me. If I would then add something to that side- like a wine cubby- but put nothing on the other side- I think it would throw off the balance even more.

The pediment kind of solves all of these issues and maybe I could make it quite small in scale and still leave breathing room around the window??

Oh and the cardboard box mock up- great idea!!!

This post was edited by Kooops on Wed, Mar 12, 14 at 17:56

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 5:54PM
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If those are a good brand of cabinet, maybe you could sell them (and the countertop) and buy new ones? Not for the same money, of course, but at least then you could arrange the cabinets and do something over the window that was designed for the space, rather than messing with paint and pediments and shelves and crowns and corner cabinet. Since you're doing an addition and re-doing the island anyway.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 9:33PM
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Have you thought about living with the shelves? I actually like them.

Maybe herbs in small pots?

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 10:31AM
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ajsmama- if only a new kitchen was in the plans. As I said, too much on our renovating plates right now. We are doing the addition and re-doing our deck AND....putting in an inground pool this spring. The kitchen has more right about it than wrong. I do think it functions well for me and the layout is sufficient. With the island expansion, I'll be even happier. I couldn't get my dh to agree to a new backsplash, let alone a new kitchen. :-)

nosoccermom- I will say the shelves in white are more appealing than my orange. The shelves you pictured must be bigger as mine are basically useless in holding anything much larger than 3in diameter and 5in tall. That window faces north- zero sunlight- so anything that grows doesn't do well. Maybe succulents?

I'm wondering if re-doing the shelves would be more appealing? Like maybe less of them. All of yours show 3 shelves and mine has 4.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 12:19PM
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Hm, hadn't noticed about only 3 shelves, but it looks like pics. 2 and, especially, 3 have fairly small shelves, too. Just enough space for a Tobasco bottle and another bottle, or salt and pepper mill. Maybe try to use some rectangular objects (tea boxes?)

Below is a link to the kitchen in pic 2, which started out as brown wood and then was painted white

Here is a link that might be useful: kitchen makeover

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 1:14PM
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I think your cabinets are taller than the ones in the pictures that nosoccermom posted...that's why you have 4 shelves not 3.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 1:49PM
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