To keep or get rid of bulkhead above cabinets?

stretchadSeptember 24, 2008

If your kitchen had/has a bulkhead above the cabinets, would you get rid of it in a remodel where you were installing new cabinetry? Why?

Did anyone do this? If so, any before/after pix?

just debating in my head what I want to do. I've got a bulkhead above my cabinets that I originally thought I'd want to get rid of when we remodeled the kitchen. However, the full kitchen remodel I originally planned isn't happening for another year or two, but I am really struggling with the lighting in the kitchen. I was thinking maybe I could update the lighting now (involves pulling out drywall, installing recessed lights, and patching drywall), leave the bulkhead in for good, and live w/ the rest until we can afford to do the cabinets, counters.Thoughts?

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I got rid of mine and I have no regrets at all. In removing them, I was able to move the vent to the toekick. I think it looks much better now. Once they were gone, I realized how much they loomed over the kitchen, and how small the kitchen seemed with them.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2008 at 10:33PM
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I'm going to guess that 95% of the replies will be to get rid of the bulkhead. I'm the 5% who actually got his contractor to build new bulkheads. We have a U-shaped kitchen that had 30" wall cabinets, with a 12" bulkhead on the left side and 12" open space on the other two. MrsPandy was tired of cleaning the "decorative items" on top of the two open sides, so she definitely wanted something different in the remodel. We both thought that our new cabinets would look too top heavy and out of proportion if we got 42" ones (to the ceiling), along with the fact that we couldn't reach the top shelf. Instead, we chose 36" cabinets, and since we didn't want a 6" space to paint, dust and decorate, we had a 6" bulkhead built on all three sides. Now that the kitchen almost finished, we realize that the Rhumba Orange (almost pumpkin) paint we selected would only be seen between the uppers and lowers if we didn't have the bulkhead, so we are doubly pleased with our decision.

As soon as I can get to my pictures, I'll try to post some.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2008 at 11:29PM
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We got rid of ours....and I'm very glad we did. We did not do 42" upper cabinets though, we did 36" & 30" on one side of the kitchen...with 6" (give or take) of crown molding to take the 36" cabs to the ceiling. [The "give or take" is b/c our floor-to-ceiling height was not consistent throughout the kitchen and the crown molding hid that fact.] The other side of the kitchen has tall + 36" cabs + crown molding to the ceiling surrounding the window & sink (window is a 7' bay).

The 30" cabinets have rags on top of them to catch the dust. When we clean, we just take the rags out & wash them. Someone here suggested using paper towels & then throwing out the paper towels. That's an option as well, but I thought we'd kill fewer trees if we used rags. They get washed w/the dish cloths so it's not like they require extra water for washing (maybe a little more electricity for drying, but not that much more). Oh, and no "decorative items" on top of our cabinets...just air!

We did the staggered height to accommodate a mini-soffit (bulkhead) that had to stay and to add interest. Many people here have had same-height to the ceiling cabinets in small, medium, & large kitchens that look wonderful!

Here is a link that might be useful: Buehl's Kitchen To-Date 08-08-31 [No Backsplash, Paint, or Pantry yet]

    Bookmark   September 24, 2008 at 11:58PM
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We had to keep ours. The plan was to take them out, but the main waste pipes were hidden in the soffits and it would have been very expensive to relocate them.

Originally I was disapointed, but I think the kitchen is still coming together nicely. I will post pics when I getmy hands on a digital camera.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 12:00AM
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Remove them, if you can...I dont like the closed in look of bulkheads.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 12:41AM
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Here are my before and after pictures. As I mentioned, we didn't want cabinets to the ceiling, and we like the prominent paint color above the cabinets. The lighting is a little off since I took it at night with a flash.

(We're probably the only people here who also wanted a four inch backsplash of our counter surface, too. Someone has to be different!)



    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 3:12AM
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...I am really struggling with the lighting in the kitchen. I was thinking maybe I could update the lighting now (involves pulling out drywall, installing recessed lights, and patching drywall),

Since you'll be doing drywall work anyway, get rid of them now! Since you're doing electrical work, get rid of them now! (You can add lighting to the top of the cabinets.)

For ease of cleaning, I'd suggest buying some of that inexpensive melamine coated shelving and putting on top of the cabs & covering the edge with some crown or cove mould.

I pulled my soffits down several years ago in a Kitchen Spruce Up and was amazed with how much larger it made the room feel. At that time, I painted the tops of the cabs with an alkyld glossy white paint to increase light (didn't think of using the melamine shelving until lots later) and intended to put some crown moulding up but never got around to it and won't (we're remodeling).

I love not having the soffits because of how much larger the room feels, because I love the lighting on top of the cabs and because I can decorate the space and change the decor on a whim.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 7:41AM
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One of my favorite moments so far in the kitchen redo was when the soffits (aka bulkheads) came down).

I felt like they closed in my kitchen and brought the ceiling down. Mine were around the entire kitchen on 3 sides and made it feel much smaller.

I have no pics of cabs after because we're still in demo mode.


    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 7:58AM
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I'm working n a 10x12 kitchen in a an 80's build condo so with concrete slab construction you need those bulkheads\soffets. Ours are 10 inch and candidly they add a bit of architectural interest. Presently everything (ceiling and walls)is the same colour but after the reno we will have a white (BM Coud White) ceiling and rust (BM Rusty Nail)walls. End bulkhead is deeper (picture2) than cabs so we will wrap the wall colour around it. Like mrpandy we are looking forward to the way the dark colour will frame the new cabinetry (in our case it will be off-white). The extra space in the upper cabs wouldn't be that accessible and the open space above would be a dust collector. We are adding cabinetry and fridge on the other wall (picture 3) and have decided to add a simple molding rather than build bulkheads, so we are combining a bit of both.




    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 8:05AM
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I ripped out the soffits back when I remodeled my 70's kitchen into a 90's kitchen. They were big and ugly, painted with popcorn ceiling paint and full of blown in insulation. What a mess! Since the ceilings were only 7.5 feet and my old cabinets were just 30 inches high, the added height of the new 39" cabinets made a big difference.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 8:51AM
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I got rid of mine, and I'm so happy about it. They did nothing other than take up space. We didn't know if they had pipes inside or not, but luckily there weren't any pipes or electircal.

Here's the link to my post showing before and after pics.

Here is a link that might be useful: Josie's Kitchen

    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 9:23AM
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Ever since I've had my kitchen remodeled, I'm not happy with the gaps between the stove & countertops but when some of my friends/family see it, they say it's no big deal. I know I'm picky but how would some of you feel if this happened to you? I have about 1/2" gap on either side of the stove after the granite was installed. The cutout for the stove was 30 1/2" and I have read where it should only be 30". I feel that my GC allowed this mistake as the granite people say they just install the granite flush with the cabinets. It would be a lot of work and money to have another piece of granite cut and installed and possibly messing up my new cabinets and walls in the process.

I guess what I'm asking is...has this happened to anybody else and if so, how was it handled?

I'm just torn about this. It's really upsetting when you have a visual look in your mind about how something should look and then it doesn't. The GC did not say that this was a mistake but I've read alot about the specs for the opening and they all say 30". I bought those gap fillers [t strips] and they don't look all that great.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 9:49AM
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RaineyGirl, please start a post of your own with this question as it is unrelated to the OP's question. You'll get more responses if your post is in the hit list w/it's own subject and this thread will stay focused on the OP's questions.


    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 1:37PM
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I got rid of my soffits in my 1980's kitchen with our remodel. We had them on two sides of the kitchen and one big one in the middle with an airstrip of 8" pot lights in it...YUCK!

One had pipes and wiring, one had a structural beam that runs through our unit and the neighbors, and the middle one had just lots of pots. It was expensive to move the beam, because of it's size and location. But thank god we did! And the other one, that wasn't so bad to get rid of, but we did lose some heat to the upstairs when it went (it was always too hot there anyhoo). I love the look of the new kitchen WITHOUT bulkheads/soffits!

I love it so much...I got rid of the stupid things everywhere in the house :) (Bathrooms both had them over the cabs). What a joy to not have soffits

    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 2:09PM
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well we will be keeping our soffits, although they will be smaller. We need one side with soffits for a vent. We went thru many designs with and without. Cannot reach 42 uppers, do not want dust catcher cabs, although good suggestions as how to get around it.
Since we have taken down cabs over a peninsula and removed the peninsula it is much more open so soffits aren't an issue.

I like both looks and whatever works for you is my feeling.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 6:53PM
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mrpandy, I hate my soffits and will be happy to be rid of them. However, yours aren't as tall as mine and I think in your contemporary style kitchen they look great. I love your paint color too. mrspandy must be so happy to have all those yucky dust collectors off the top of her cabinets!

    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 9:21PM
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I got rid of my bulkheads so I could have extra storage in to-the-ceiling cabinets. I know I can't reach the top shelves easily, but I can stow seasonal or other seldom used stuff in them.

If you have to do drywall work to install new lighting, you may have to do it all over again when you remove your bulkheads, depending on how they were installed in the first place. Ours were built in during the initial house framing, and made quite a mess when removed. They were filled with attic insulation, plus a 10" wasps' nest, and we incurred exta (above the GC's initial estimate) costs to patch everything up nice.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 9:49PM
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