Kitchen Cabinets are the focal point for many kitchens and there are many options and decisions you need to make when choosing cabinets for your new kitchen. These include color, style and organizational features for the cabinets you have selected. Alone, these questions are enough to confound even the best researched consumer. Amidst all of this, one question is more straight forward than it may seem: Should your cabinetry go to the ceiling or not?

This question will definitely come up during the design process with Performance Kitchens and the answer will be based on three criteria: The height of your kitchen’s ceilings, your ceiling’s design details and your aesthetic preferences. Let’s explore these.

Criteria 1: The height of your kitchen’s ceilings

The clearest indicator of how tall your kitchen cabinets should be is the height of your kitchen’s ceilings.

Eight-foot ceilings are about the lowest you will have, and these were actually quite common in the past. As a result, most basic, off-the-shelf cabinets were designed to accommodate this height in one of two ways. 

  1. Cabinets, including crown molding, will go all the way to the ceiling with one wall cabinet.
  2. The kitchen cabinets and molding do not go to the ceiling and the wall cabinets and trim will be just below the ceiling. Any crown molding or trim will continue around the room, above the cabinetry.

If the ceiling height of your kitchen is nine or ten feet, the cabinetry can be treated one of two ways:

  1. Cabinets and trim go all the way to the ceiling, but the cabinets will probably need to be stacked. In other words, you will have something like a 36″ wall cabinet with a 12″ – 18″ high smaller cabinet on top of it.
  2. The kitchen cabinets and trim do not go to the ceiling and there is a large open area between the top of the cabinetry and the ceiling. It is not uncommon to see people decorate this open area with wall décor or other items.

If your ceilings are any higher than ten feet it is probably not a good idea to have the your kitchen cabinets meet the ceiling. From a usability standpoint, kitchen cabinets that are higher than this would be difficult to reach and would not meet the needs of most home-owners. Furthermore, if kitchen cabinets get too tall, they can really overwhelm the space.

Criteria 2: Ceiling Details

Exposed ceilings, wooden beams and other elements add confusion to the question of ideal kitchen cabinet heights. For many home owners, the recommendation will be to not have the kitchen cabinets reach the ceiling since they will interfere with the look that is achieved through the beams and other exposed elements. If the beams are just decorative and are not support beams, then you may want to consider removing them. This will be a purely aesthetic choice.

Criteria 3: Aesthetic Preferences

If you have tall ceilings and want to draw attention to the height, then kitchen cabinets reaching the ceiling may be the preferred choice.

There are no absolute right or wrong decisions when it comes to kitchen cabinet heights. You just need to work with a kitchen designer to achieve the aesthetic, design and use features that you are trying to achieve in your kitchen.

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For more thoughts on kitchen cabinets you can check out our post on Kitchen Cabinet Mandatories.

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