Extending Kitchen Cabinets to the Ceiling

Kitchen cabinets extended to the ceiling with crown molding

While some kitchen cabinets that don’t extend to the ceiling were built that way for a reason, oftentimes it’s just wasting valuable space that could be filled with more cabinets for extra storage. Extending kitchen cabinets to the ceiling is also an easy way to make your space appear larger and more open.

Kitchen cabinets extended to the ceiling with crown molding

Why Don’t My Cabinets Extend to the Ceiling?

Whether or not your current kitchen cabinets extend to the ceiling depends on a few different factors:

Who Built Your Home (and When)

Soffits or bulkheads that take up the space between cabinets and ceilings were introduced into kitchens in the mid 20th century as a solution for hiding ductwork and other inner workings of the home that didn’t have anywhere else to go. If soffits aren’t the reason why your cabinets stop short, it may be that whoever built your home decided to avoid the extra expense of larger cabinets.

The Height of Your Ceiling

Ceilings higher than ten feet are usually too high to accommodate cabinets that extend all the way up. Not only will you never be able to reach the top shelf, cabinets that high can start to look bulky and overwhelming.

Ceiling Details (Such as Beams and Soffits)

Elements like beams—whether structural or faux—just don’t mesh well with cabinets that run to the ceiling. Trying to cut cabinets around a beam will give your kitchen an inauthentic and forced look. In addition, high or vaulted ceilings present a challenge to raising the height of your cabinets because you can’t possibly extend them the entire way—so how much should you extend them?

What Kind of Prep Work is Involved in Making the Transformation?

Soffits are grouped in with those ceiling details that may be playing a role in why your cabinets were never extended to the ceiling in the first place. Sometimes soffits are built for no reason at all, while sometimes they are used to hide pertinent wiring or ducts that couldn’t be fit behind a wall. But whatever their original purpose was, they are often unsightly and prevent your cabinets from being extended.

An experienced contractor is the best resource to take a closer look at your soffits and determine why they were built in the first place. You can then determine if they can be removed or if they are necessary elements that need to stay because of important ductwork, wiring, or plumbing.

Although American Wood Reface does not tear out soffits for you, we are able to come in after the job is done and get started on extending your cabinets, or building new ones depending on what will work best for your kitchen.

What Are My Options?

One might assume that the problem of short upper cabinets would require all new cabinetry to be installed, but that is not the case. With cabinet refacing, we can solve the problem in one of two ways: either by extending existing cabinets or building additional cabinets onto them, as outlined below.

Both methods provide all the benefits of refacing vs. replacing cabinets: saving time and expense, creating less mess and waste, and resulting in a beautiful new kitchen. Below we’ve provided examples of kitchens we’ve transformed with these different methods.

Add On To Existing Upper Cabinets

If ceilings are eight feet high, we can extend the structure of your existing cabinets rather than building them completely new. Once the structure is extended, we reface the cabinets in order to hide any seams and structural changes so they are essentially brand new, taller cabinets with new doors.

Contemporary kitchen featuring an oversized kitchen island with sink

Build Upper Cabinets Completely New

If cabinets are nine feet or higher, it typically works best to build new cabinets that are stacked on top of your existing ones, with their own separate cabinet doors, as a single cabinet of this height would appear too extremely elongated. After refacing, your new ceiling-height cabinetry looks completely integrated and new, with no visible seams.

We are also able to stagger the depth of the new cabinets to add dimension and interest, such as making the cabinets above the stove jut out an inch or two beyond the surrounding ones (like we did in the kitchen shown below). We are able to do this stylized way of stacking cabinets in kitchens where ceilings are lower than nine feet as well.

Kitchen cabinets extended to the ceiling with crown molding

Why Should I Extend My Cabinets?

If the height of your current cabinets doesn’t bother you, there’s no reason why you should feel compelled to extend them. Many people enjoy having the space above their cabinets for displaying decorative elements like plants, pottery, or knick knacks. However, if you feel that it’s just wasted space or want to give your kitchen a larger, grander feel, extending your cabinets is the way to go.

Increase Storage Space

If you’re not one of those people who like to display things above your cabinets, that area becomes wasted space that could otherwise be used for the storage of seldomly-used cookware and other kitchen items you don’t need immediate access to. In a small kitchen with minimal cabinet space, that extra storage can be a lifesaver.

Not only does extending your cabinets to the ceiling offer more space for storing those seldom used pots, pans, and appliances that you just don’t know what to do with, but it’s also a great way to bring a little drama into the kitchen. Extended cabinets help eliminate dead space and create a bold, streamlined look.

Make Your Space Appear Larger

Like we talked about in our post about transforming your small kitchen, the top of your cabinets can act as a visual stopping point that cuts off your space and makes it feel as though you’re more closed in. By extending your cabinets to the ceiling, you’re drawing the eye up and giving your space a more open feel.

Take a look at this project where we extended the kitchen cabinets to give the homeowner more storage space and an updated look.

Contact American Wood Reface to schedule an in-home consultation!

Ready to transform your kitchen cabinets?

Whether you’re ready to move forward to extending kitchen cabinets with your cabinet transformation or you’re still just thinking through your options, the team at American Wood Reface can help give you a better idea of what could be done with your kitchen. Contact us today to schedule a free in-home consultation!

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