Options to wallpaper border on kitchen bulkhead?

tiskersDecember 25, 2008

We live in a smaller Cape Cod home, and my decorating style is country cottage. All our rooms are painted in various soft, "neutral" colors of the sea.

We are in the process of a huge kitchen remodel. Our kitchen has an 8 foot ceiling with an 11" bulkhead (soffit) over the cabinets. It seems like a PERFECT place for a wallpaper border. I like this one:


(I hope that worked. If not, I'll try again)

Anyway, I know there are a lot of varied opinions regarding wallpaper borders... but I tend to like some of them. And besides, what would I do with that bulkhead if I didn't put a border up there?!

The cabinets will be off white, the granite countertops will be Santa Cecelia Light, and the lighting fixtures will be wrought iron black. Stainless appliances.

I am planning to paint the room a soft gold/straw kind of color... although I haven't found the exact color yet. I plan to wait until the cabinets and granite are in for my final decision.

Any and all opinions welcome! Thank you!


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Trying again. I think I've got it!
This border is from the book, "VINTAGE MARKET" and I think it is just sooooo adorable!

    Bookmark   December 25, 2008 at 4:28PM
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ingrid_vc so. CA zone 9

It really is a beautiful border with the chickens so well done. I suppose the only question might be whether it would overwhelm or somehow unbalance the whole room. I wonder if you could try a small portion first to see how it looks before you do all your walls. I don't know that a soffitt needs any sort of decoration but that would be your individual choice. The border certainly does go with a country cottage style. Your kitchen as described sounds lovely. I'll be interested to see what you decide to do and hope you'll post pictures.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2008 at 4:50PM
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Ingrid, thank you for the post. I appreciate it!

I don't *think* a border on the bulkhead will make the room unbalanced or "top heavy" because the room is a kitchen... with a LOT going on in the room (countertops, appliances, a large peninsula bar, etc.)

The kitchen will open to the DR, and I have toyed with the idea of wallpapering the dining room... there is a darling "newsprint/rooster" wallpaper that coordinates with that border. Any thoughts?

Hmmmm... so many choices and decisions!!!

    Bookmark   December 25, 2008 at 4:56PM
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How tall is the wallpaper - 11 inches? If not, you will have a gap to address one way or the other.

I don't think that highlighting the bulkhead is going to make the ceiling look higher. It might actually have the opposite effect of making the ceiling seem lower.

Personally, I would tire quickly of the roosters, but that is me.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2008 at 5:29PM
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SPeaking as someone that just paid a bunch to have a border taken down in the kitchen and wallpaper in a couple other places I vote no on the wallpaper/border for what it is worth. :)

My dad has a bulkhead. I wish I had pics. They have decorative plates hung on it. They have a bunch of different sets and switch them out seasonally. I think it looks lovely.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2008 at 5:34PM
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I love wallpaper myself, but I think you'll get tired of it pretty fast because of where it will be located. I think I have a bulkhead, but it will be torn down, and I put decorative plates and what-nots up there.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2008 at 9:07PM
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Thanks for the opinions and input!

I actually had a wallpaper border up there before (the whole kitchen was walllpapered) and I didn't really tire of it. So I think I'd be OK with the roosters for awhile. I change out my accessories and decorating every couple of years anyway, so I don't expect to live with anything forever! ;o)

(And, oh, the border is 9" so I know there'd be an inch at the top and bottom exposed [painted] - and I'm OK with that!)

    Bookmark   December 25, 2008 at 10:06PM
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I will post a pic if anyone's interested, we have wallpaper (not a border) on the soffit, with a collection of tin signs, a decorative ladder, and a wreath, one of several wreaths, inspired by a country store.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2008 at 10:33PM
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I like the country store collage idea best :)

    Bookmark   December 26, 2008 at 12:07AM
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Imho, not decorating the bulkhead makes it disappear and gives the focus on the other elements of the kitchen, the atmosphere is lighter and airier.
There will be a lot of chickens going round your kitchen, try to visualize the repeat in that border.

You might enjoy a less ornamented look in your new kitchen if you give it a chance. A few well placed plates are less of a commitment than a whole border, which definitely sets a theme.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2008 at 7:16AM
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That is a darling border, tiskers, and obviously you want a border. I had a lot of borders and wallpaper in my last three houses and loved them. In the last house we had to strip almost all of them off in order to sell the house. First time that ever happened; the house finally sold in its "neutralized" state, and in the process I came to love the more simple look. But I sure did enjoy my wallpaper in its time.

I say, if you love that look, go for it. It is not in vogue at the moment but who the heck cares. Get the right amount of border while it's still available but don't open it yet (so you can return it later if you decide no.) Finish the remodel including the painting, then tape at least one roll of the border up in several places around the room and see how it looks.

If you want to see how you like the look of plates etc. up there, get some decorative paper plates you like, cut some hanging accessories from cardboard, and hang them up.

There is nothing like doing a mock-up of something before proceeding with the real thing.

About same coordinating wallpaper in the DR, it could be good but could also be too much of a good thing. Again I'd wait till it's all done and try taping up several strips. A small print or a plaid might be good. Hm. I wonder about a toile... it would have to be a somewhat strong one so as not to be overwhelmed by the roosters.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2008 at 8:24AM
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I'm a fool for a good chicken, myself, and that's a wonderful one! But maybe not on the bulkhead...
Do you have walls in your kitchen that don't have cabinetry? I would recommend that you paint the walls, the bulkhead, and the ceiling in your wall color. Wrapping the room completely in color will give you a warm, cohesive effect, and make the ceiling seem higher. Then run that wonderful border around the wall at chair-rail height. I think you'd enjoy it much more there, and besides, doesn't it make more sense for chickens to be down closer to the ground than running around over your head??

    Bookmark   December 26, 2008 at 1:01PM
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Such good advice and opinions, thank you all very much!

I honestly didn't think it was possible ;o) but maybe I am being swayed out of the roosters-on-the-bulkhead idea, afterall!!! :oD

I've been thinking about what you guys said... and I *think* this is what I'm gonna do. Buy enough border to go around the room, but not open it yet. Then paint the room as planned (in a color that coordinates with the border, just in case!) and see how it looks. Even live with it *as is* for a few days/weeks. I do see the appeal of a more "minimalist" look, and that is compelling!

Then I can decide if I want to use the border, of not, and return it if not. (I may have to open one roll to get the "feel" of things... but I'm OK with that!)

Another thing I'm thinking about... maybe running the border around the kitchen directly above my 4" granite backsplash. I had that in my last house and really liked the look. (BTW, the kitchen is U-shaped, but one whole long wall of the "U" is open to the dining room, so there'd be no border on that wall... so all in all, there would really only be border on 2 walls and a few feet beside the fridge/pantry unit on a 3rd wall.)

Oh, obviously -- I am not planning on doing a tile, etc., backsplash... LOVE the look in other people's kitchens, but for me, with so much in my kitchen "locked in" for years (cabinets, granite, floor) I want to have that space available to easily *change*. What do you guys think of that?!

And Prairiegirl, yes, please, I'd love to see a few pictures! Thank you!


    Bookmark   December 26, 2008 at 2:19PM
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Great idea...I think over the backsplash is a fine choice. I'd make sure that the wall color is as strong as the border's background, maybe matched to it, so that it looks all of a piece.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2008 at 2:51PM
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I really like the border and if its what you want you should try it. However, if your going to use it the one thing I would consider is looking into either soapstone or a honed black counter top vs. the shiny Santa cecilia. I think it would give a more rustic/country feel as opposed to the shiny more formal looking top.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2008 at 3:16PM
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Thanks, Bronwynsmom, glad you approve! ;o)

DD70, thanks for the post...
Buuuuut... the Santa Cecilia (we got the LIGHT, not the plain Santa Cecelia) is a GIVEN. We spent HOURS at the granite yard, picked out our exact 3 slabs... and it's bought and paid for and waiting at the fabricators!!! Everything else must "fit" around that and the cabinets!

    Bookmark   December 26, 2008 at 4:31PM
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OK, just got back from the wallpaper store... here's another contender, from the same book. This border is narrower, just under 7" (vs. the roosters at 9"). Do we like it????!

    Bookmark   December 26, 2008 at 4:45PM
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I was just thinking of how nice your kitchen sounds with all the wall art and I thought: hmmmmmm wonder if she could put up a metal tile every ten inches or so on the bulkhead. You could actually use Liquid Nails and just glue them. You'd still have a nice contrast to your yummy sounding paint (I used BM wheat) yet still not have the eye looking at repeated patterns which will take away from the interest in the other pieces. Just a thought!!

    Bookmark   December 26, 2008 at 6:25PM
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Are you talking about a soffit that runs around the perimeter of your kitchen above the cabinets?

Unless there is a mechanical reason (wiring, plumbing, etc.) not to, you can take those soffits down---they are just drywall, and I am under the impression from your OP that you are planning a complete remodel. Nothing is easier than taking down the soffit when you have other work done. It usually has the visual effect of bringing the whole ceiling down to the top of the cabinets, where getting rid of it gives you volume.

That said, if you like the soffit I would not emphasize that horizontal line by using a distinctive wallpaper border. The scheme you have described in your original post sounds lovely, and a more restrained stencil would give you the country look you like in colours you could choose yourself.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2008 at 6:48PM
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Unless there is a mechanical reason (wiring, plumbing, etc.) not to, you can take those soffits down---they are just drywall.

Not always. I got an estimate to take mine down for a proposed kitchen remodel, and the price was enormous due to the fact that the home has plaster walls and the plaster soffit would have nothing behind it. It was not so much fixing what was behind it, but trying to fix the wall on both sides that would be damaged too by the removal. The whole project snowballed with this idea. Basically it came down to having to redo all the kitchen walls or leave the soffit and save the moola.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2008 at 8:31PM
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Actually, our soffitt does have wiring, plumbing and ductwork in it; so after much thought we decided to just keep it. I actually don't mind it, though... it goes around all 4 walls, even where there aren't cabinets, and I think it adds an interesting achitectural element to the room.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2008 at 8:39PM
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Whoops...did I sound too opinionated? Probably...I am pretty opinionated about these things, I confess! I used to be in the design biz, so I tend to see a whole scheme in my mind's eye, and want to describe it in full. My intention is only to be helpful...I'm sorry if I seemed bossy. I try to stomp on that natural tendency as much as I can!
(And I like the rooster much better than the other one.)

    Bookmark   December 27, 2008 at 11:11AM
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Bronwynsmom, NO APOLOGIES NEEDED!!! I have enjoyed your posts and appreciate your opinions, and those have been VERY helpful! Thank you! I am being 100% sincere!

Now, hmmmm... please tell me... what is it about the crock border that you don't care for? Thank you!


    Bookmark   December 27, 2008 at 11:41AM
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Unless the cost would be excessive (lots of wiring and ductwork, etc.) I would get rid of the bulkhead. You don't say if this is your forever house or if a sale during the kitchen's lifetime is possible, but personally I think wallpaper borders, especially on soffits, seem, well, dated. I don't mind a wallpaper in a low-key design (I believe Ina Garten has green stripes, or is that painted?). But ducks, geese, chickens, teacups, etc., they just seem dated...or will. You could introduce roosters in some other way, like decorative canisters, a few Haeger roosters, etc.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2008 at 12:43PM
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I don't understand why anyone would go to the trouble of removing a bulkhead. You end up with a bare, dust-collecting space above the cabinets. And then you feel compelled to decorate up there. A bulkhead is a nice way to finish off the area.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2008 at 1:53PM
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I think the chicken is a classic, and is almost elegant in a lighthearted way...whereas the crocks are a little more cute, more like greeting cards than classic images, and I think you can tire of cute more quickly. The newspaper background behind the rooster is also great, whereas the bold words on the crocks seem a little intrusive to me.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2008 at 5:30PM
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As I mentioned in another post above, the bulkhead is FULL of *stuff* -- wiring, ductwork, even some plumbing to the upstairs. We already had to re-route several ducts that were in the (load-bearing, no less!) wall we removed between the kitchen and the dining room... and so the bulkhead is here to stay. Which is OK, because I really don't mind it, and I do rather like the architectural interest it brings to a room.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2008 at 5:30PM
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Thank you for the post. I see what you mean... hmmmm... I will definitely give that some more thought. The roosters (chickens?!) pattern definitely caught my eye first, and I've been thinking about it for awhile... the crocks one was a more recent find!
Thanks again!

    Bookmark   December 27, 2008 at 6:00PM
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Here is an option that if done well, would really be beautiful!

Here is a link that might be useful: http://owcl.blogspot.com/2007/03/want-crown-moulding-on-your-cabinets.html

    Bookmark   December 28, 2008 at 7:24AM
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If you can't remove the soffit, the molding in the picture posted by barbie, above, would be elegant and long-lasting. I think the rooster border will look dated almost as soon as you put it up.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2008 at 7:43AM
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Oh, Barbie!!! Thank you for that link. That was a wonderful webpage - full of great ideas -- I LOVED it! I know that our cabinets will be trimmed out on top (which is the bottom of the soffit), but what a great idea to trim them out on the top (at the ceiling) too. And painting the soffit the same color of the cabinets is also a great idea (I was planning to paint them the color of the walls)... it may be a little tricky because they are off white, glazed-with-ivory cabinets... but I am pretty good with stuff like that, I think I could get pretty close.

I know about Wallwords and Wallgraffiti, etc., and I have actually been toying with something like that, too... although I am planning to wait till the kitchen is done and decide then.

Again, I can't thank you enough for that wonderful link!


    Bookmark   December 28, 2008 at 7:59AM
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I've seem kitchens where the bulkhead was incorporated into the cabinets. Meaning, the cabinets were brought forward and the bulkhead/soffit was faced with plywood and finished off with trim in the same finish as the cabinets and then crown molding was added....Oops, I just saw the link Barbie posted. That is what I am talking about, that looks great, IMO.

"You end up with a bare, dust-collecting space above the cabinets."

The OP has 8' ceilings, if removing the soffit were an option she could easily take the cabinets to the ceiling. My ceilings are slightly higher and that is what I did.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2008 at 8:44PM
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