9' ceilings cabs to ceiling but I've a question

Bridget HelmJuly 18, 2014

We are renovating and the kitchen has 9' ceilings. The architect drew the cabs with short little upper cabs over the regular upper cabs. I'm not sure how I feel about the little short cabinets up top. Are really tall upper cabinets an option, however?

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The main limitation on the height of a cabinet is the length of the door. Standard sheets of building materials come to 8'. I have some 6' tall cabinets with bamboo doors (bamboo perpendicular core) which are trying to warp. A few of my 5' tall doors are trying to warp too, but less so. None of them are really warped (this is after 4-5 years), but they're not 100% straight either.

When you open a big tall cabinet door, you get the advantage of being able to crane your neck and sort of see into the top without getting on a ladder. That's mostly illusion. You only really see what's in the very front, and that can be done with split doors by using a broomstick to open and close.

Having split doors means you don't have to see the stuff you stashed into long term storage (solid doors) every time you open the cabinet. Also, having split doors humanizes the space a lot. The horizontal line literally lowers the figurative horizon, which keeps the cabinets from feeling like they're looming.

Upper uppers can be very attractive if left open or lit with glass fronts, with occasional pieces displayed in them. I keep my college pots and dishes (which are useful every other blue moon) and some equally rarely used bakeware in them. Over the fridge and freezer, I keep my huge dishpan and cold service tray. Oversized, lightweight stuff.

The look you prefer, within the constraints of what they can make doors for, is up to you. My design is similar to yours, though, with the line of upper uppers following from the level of the top of the hood, and I think it looks nice. Having the knobs up there too, helps break up the expanse of the doors.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 5:05PM
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I like the look of stacked cabinets as it makes the uppers less imposing. That's regardless of practical issues as pillog explained.
Pictures below

Here is a link that might be useful: Stacked cabinets

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 5:21PM
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Several months ago we finished up a project and had the same situation, we did do the stacked cabinets as shown in your picture but when we went to sell the property the buyer loved the look but would prefer if they were one door....so that they could look up and see what was in the entire cabinet and thought it was silly that they could not open and close that top door without pulling out a step ladder

We ended up pinning the doors together so that they opened together...worked nicely, and kept the horizontal line and gave a nice clean look

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 5:49PM
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Assuming the door can be tall enough, the advantage to a single door is that the shelves can be adjusted however you want. I like extra shelves in uppers, to minimize stacking.

But if you're going up to 9 feet, you already have a lot of storage, and those extra inches are less important.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 6:44PM
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Sophie Wheeler

That's not drawn accurately, despite the height notations. The scale is off. The notation says 56'' but that's not the proportions shown. The standard built in fridge is 84'' The cabinet above the fridge is about 12'' . That brings the total to 8'. That is 12'' shy of 9', which would be too much for molding to bridge.

With 110'' of floor to ceiling height, you have room for 36'' base cabinets, 18'' of space between lowers and uppers and then 48'' uppers with 8'' of molding. Or 30''+18" with 8'' molding if you want stacked and lined up with the fridge.

The truth is that the top cabinets won't be nearly as short as they appear in the drawing.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 11:16PM
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I think the upper stack of short cabinets can be cute if the doors are glass. You can find many photos on Houzz with that design.

We're in the midst of remodeling and also have 9' ceilings with cabinets that go all the way up. Instead of having a second deck of cabinets, we have 48" tall ones. Then our doors have a split rail near the top to create the illusion of a separate space. (We're filling that part with glass, but it could be solid, too). Our cabinets aren't here yet, otherwise I'd post a photo.

Honestly, I would ask your designer for the price difference between 48" cabs and having stacked cabinets. I would think the latter are more expensive given that you have an entire cabinet box and separate doors.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 4:51PM
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I'm currently in a similar delima. I've priced 48" cabs and priced putting 18" cabs on my existing cupboards. There was only a $300 difference. They seem to charge according to width and not height for some reason.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 5:05PM
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Another option to consider, if you don't like the short cabinet look, is to split them differently--we have 18" over 32" with 9-foot ceilings, for instance. We considered 50" single doors (and also 48" single doors with extra moulding) but didn't love the look of either for our particular space. I've seen other kitchens where it looks wonderful, though (and some people do a false split where the door has two panels, but is a single door).

I sized our cabinets to be able to just reach the top shelf of the lower row without a stepladder; I need a stepladder for anything in the upper row. We use those for long-term storage and I really love that solution after several years in the finished kitchen. It's nice to have the two spaces compartmentalized. Ours have glass doors in the upper row and solid doors in the lower row, since we use that for food storage. A lot depends on how you plan to use the storage, though. I did line up our fridge cabinet with our top row of uppers and really like how that turned out, too. (ETA: We put an adjustable shelf under the fridge cabinet since we also have a shorter refrigerator but planned to replace it in the not-too-distant future--so the cabinets still line up, but the shelf can go up and down based on the height of the refrigerator below. It makes the space look finished while not locking us into any particular dimensions--motivated by the fact that our 1940s too-small fridge enclosure was one thing driving our remodel!)

This post was edited by artemis78 on Sun, Jul 20, 14 at 2:09

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 2:06AM
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Bridget Helm

hollysprings, thanks for catching that. the specs for my fridge are 70" tall. i purchased a GE cafe counterdepth. so she has 30" cabs drawn everywhere with 18" uppers, but my fridge being only 70" tall creates a problem. there will be 30" of space above fridge left over (not including the trim) so I guess the cab above the fridge will not have a stacked cab over it?? I should do the same for the pantry I suppose, to keep the symmetry??

if i do stacked, i don't want glass all along the top. I'll keep them regular doors because I will have two glass cabinets flanking the sink.

does anyone have a pic of their 48" split rail cabinets?

interesting about the price difference lazydazy! that was something I was wondering about.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 2:06AM
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Some tall kitchens with split rail doors:

Honestly, full-length cabinets with a regular door could look nice, too. I think it depends on the space. Our kitchen is only 9.5' wide, so we added the split rail so that it wouldn't feel like the upper cabinets were looming over us.

As for your fridge and pantry, yes, I would probably have upper cabs that are equal in height.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 8:41AM
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Bridget Helm

artemis, do you have a pic of yours?

also, does anyone have a picture of cabinets that aren't split at all? I want flat trim at the top, but i don't wan to stack up too much. So I guess if I didn't split the door or split the cabinets, I'd have a 48" door with 6 inches of trim?

Our kitchen is 12'wide by 22' long, but 10 feet of the length is the breakfast room.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 1:26AM
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Sure, here's ours (sorry for terrible lighting; someday will take some better shots!):

The look is a bit different with inset but when we were planning I found several similar cabinet runs that used a similar look with frameless too. Our current fridge (these are from 2011 when we finished but it is still chugging along!) is only 68" tall but that shelf adjusts up to 84" so it can either be a cookie sheet/tray shelf with a taller fridge below or a bookshelf with a shorter fridge. It's hard to tell from the angle of the photo, but all the glass cabinets line up. (Our cabinetmaker's original suggestion over the fridge was one taller cabinet with solid doors that would have taken the space of both the upper and the shelf, but we didn't go that route because we weren't ready to buy the fridge yet and didn't want to commit to dimensions since we were considering a few with slightly different heights/air space needs. Good thing since 3+ years later we still have not bought the new one!)

Also linking to a thread I posted forever ago when we were trying to figure this out--a bunch of people on the board at the time posted photos of different solutions, so it might be helpful for you too!

Here is a link that might be useful: Old thread on tall uppers

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 2:36AM
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Bridget Helm

Thanks for the pic. I think that 18" uppers is what she drew - like yours. I like that, but you how you want to see all your options before making the final decision.

We will have inseam cabs too. I don't think the pic i posted specifies that. Anyway, so your pic is pretty much what we'd have. So that's in the running. 18 over 32

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 3:15AM
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