'rules' for staggered height cabinets?

Mom23EsMarch 9, 2012

I like the look of staggered height cabinets. We will have 10' ceilings. I think it's a bit silly to take cabinets all the way up, and I don't like the soffit look. That leaves space for dust to collect whether I do all even across or staggered. Any tips or tricks to making it look right? Anything to avoid? And finally, any reason NOT to do staggered height? (builder mentioned today that staggered height cabinets "can give the illusion that there doesn't seem to be much cabinet space.")

(I find myself hating all the ideas the KD at our builder's cabinet place proposes. I think I've got to do this myself.)

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To avoid... Too much up-down-up-down without some sort of reason or natural break. Like a lot of things, less is more...Keep the variation special, for a special spot or two. A lot of times some change in cabinet depth makes the look work better.

Possible reason not to: I think it's a look that will quickly date itself, if that bothers you at all.

I'm sure there have been previous posts about how to do cabinets for 10' ceilings, or photos of kitchens with 10' ceilings, so you might do a search for those at the bottom of the forum page. Seeing what others have done is often a good way to firm up your vision.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 9:57PM
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Be VERY careful when planning so that the crown molding has places to turn or sides of other cabinets to die into, that type of things.

It can get very complex to plan in 2-D some of these 3-D issues.

I am not a big fan of the overall staggered look, but a feature or two that is taller/deeper is okay.

I think with a 10 foot ceiling, 8.5-9 pretty straight across with a substantial molding at the top of the cabinets and a nice cornice around the ceiling line could be really effective.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 10:08PM
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I have 10' ceilings, and the cabinet that houses the fan goes all the way up. I can't tell if the others are 9' or 8.5' high. The fridge enclosure s deeper, so there is some variation. I have very substantial stacked crown on the top of the cabs. I really think that when you have 10' ceilings you really need to do something up there...I think skimpy crown and straight across cabs look anemic with tall ceilings.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 10:42PM
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If you do staggered height, you need to do staggered depth as well to make the crown molding work. You'll want to make the higher cabs the deeper ones as well.

Having a reason to make a cabinet deeper and higher gives some purpose to the look. In this photo you can see the oven cabs, hood cab, and corner cabs are the taller/deeper ones which gives it more of a functional vs purely designed look, imho. This is with 12' ceilings.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 10:50PM
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Sophie Wheeler

It looks far better with a mix of open shelving, glass cabinets, and plain shorter doored cabinets in a skyscraper configuration rather than the yo-yo UPdownUPdonwUPdown shown above. Staggared depth is also a MUST for it to work at all or you get those silly crown returns that make it look amateur. It's not for a small kitchen, as it takes a lot of room to do successfully.

It's also a look well past it's prime that didn't stick around that long to begin with. The dust issue is a big drawback with it, as is finding someone that can successfully plan something that works logistically and still looks a bit unfitted, which is what the look is attempting to recreate. Actual unfitted is a much better look that will never be dated. Cabinets to the ceiling would be more functional and be less dated.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 11:17PM
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I agree with rhome410, have a reason for the different heights. chiefneil's is done well. The ones I don't like are the ones that look like off-the-shelf cabinets that are the same size, with some hung at normal height and one next to it hung higher, so not only are the tops not flush, neither are the bottoms.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 11:32PM
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Sigh. I guess I don't like the look as much as I thought I did. I took rhome's advice and looked at a bunch of 10' ceiling pics, and I wasn't super impressed. I don't think we have a big enough kitchen or enough cabinetry budget to get all the mixed style hollysprings described. I didn't realize it was a trend either. It seems like everything we want in our kitchen is a trend that is nearly passing. I was hoping for a timeless kitchen style, but apparently there is no such thing.

Thank you all for your input. Awesome to learn now than later in the game.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 11:38PM
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I have 8' ceilings.
I've stacked some uppers and like it. Not all, but some center cabs in the middle of a 16' run.
The cabs next to the sink.

I think it looks a little less "show room" where all the cabinet styles are hung next to each other for examples. Even though mine aren't different from each other, it's different for the eye.

This coming from someone so anxious to get rid of the visual clutter I can barely sit still.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2012 at 9:16AM
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