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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

Raising kitchen cabinets higher

Kalyana WhiteFebruary 21, 2013
I've seen 1 or 2 pics where people have raised their upper kitchen cabinets up to the ceiling and then added shelving underneath them to give them more storage. I want to do this too, but have a higher ceiling with crown already in place (the pics that I've seen just involved people ripping out soffits or they just had shorter ceiling heights). I have standard builder maple cabinets. Do I raise them up to the base of the crown molding or up a certain distance? They are 30" cabinets (not including top trim crown) with 16" to the base of the molding. I thought about raising them 12" to mock the tall cabinets that are 42" high. (the picture is old; paint is different colorand there is no wallpaper border; beadboard is the current backsplash)
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I hope you are tall! :) I personally would not like having a step stool in my kitchen 24-7 to be able to reach the high shelves. But I do like the look you are trying to achieve.
2 Likes    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 2:51PM
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Terri Symington, ASID
You could drop it below the trim as in the photo of the shelving unit below.. Are you planning on painting them?
2 Likes    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 2:58PM
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We had the same issue. Luckily our cabinets were still available. We added a row to the top. We used standard doors and routed out the panel and replaced with seeded glass. We added a rope detail between the upper and lower cabinet to finish it.
11 Likes    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 2:58PM
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Kalyana White
I would love to paint them, but that's not in the works right now. I'm lucky my hubby is agreeing to raising them higher. This remodel is one of the inspirations: http://www.domesticimperfection.com/2013/02/decked-out-kitchen-reveal/
And yes, we are both about 6' tall :)
2 Likes    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 3:01PM
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Kalyana White
I like the added cabinets on top, but right now that's not in the budget. I like the concept of having open shelving for my everyday plates and glasses, as long as they stay organized and simple. I can always put less used items in the top of the cabinets I guess. I'm just desperately out of storage space!
    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 3:05PM
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I love the inspiration photos!
    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 7:21PM
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Norm Walters Construction Inc.
What would you do with the cabinet the microwave is attached to?
    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 9:42PM
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When I first read your dilemma, I was thinking, what??? But it does make sense, doesn't it? A few things that worry me about doing this. I looked at your link, and if you notice the cabinets in the picture don't have crown molding. If you move your cabinets up you will have crown against crown, how will that look? And also, walls are rarely square and it looks like you have a corner cabinet. Will it fit again perfectly or will you end up with a gap between cabinets?
1 Like    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 1:46AM
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you can get away with doing alot of quirky thinks in older, less traditional homes. it might fight the loook of crown molding and raised panel doors. i'm 5'9" and am often bothered by counters being too low but i wouldn't want the cabinets that high.

have you exhausted all organizing possibilities? rev-a-shelf has amazing spacemaking units for cabinets and drawers. slideouts and stackers.

could you store seasonal and occassionally used items in a closet outside the kitchen?
    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 2:04AM
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Kalyana White
Okay so it turns out my husband is on board with painting the cabinets. I would do either all white, or white uppers and dark gray lowers.
I hadn't thought about the crown clashing, but I guess I could always change out the crown to something less detailed? If I had 4" between crown and cabinets, would it be less intrusive?
We are having someone move the cabinets for us, so he should be able to make sure there are no gaps is the corner isn't perfectly square. He could also change out the crown if needed.
I have a couple of options for the microwave cabinet. I could either leave it at that height so the other cabinets are staggered (it wraps in an L, and there is also another side cabinet, so I think I could coordinate them so they don't look haphazard). Or, like in my inspiration, build a shelf box to put below the cabinet so the microwave sits flush against something, but the cabinet still gets raised.
And yes, I've exhausted my storage options. I also have a bench seat in the breakfast nook that is made of cabinets, and I have my china cabinet in my formal dining room stuffed. I can weed out a few things, but with 3 kids, 2 of them being twin-fants, I'm running out of ideas and space! :)
Thank you all for your advice by the way. This is really helpful!
1 Like    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 5:22AM
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I love the two color cabinets! [houzz=
Kathia's Old Kitchen · More Info
Heights Kitchen Remodel · More Info
Bosch Kitchens · More Info
1 Like    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 5:29AM
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You might want to go through your cabinets and pack up and donate/ sell any items you no longer use. You might be surprised at how many things you no longer actively use. That may help in determing ultimate storage needs. I think painting the cabinets would b really fun. Love the pics above... Kathia's Old Kit and Bosch Kitchens. Do you have any example photos of the cabinets a above shelving?
    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 5:50AM
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Just a note to beware of what may be hidden within the soffit. When we remodeled out kitchen we had the soffit taken out with mostly no problem except over the sink area where the pipes from the upstairs bathroom ran. To continue the look with the 42" cabinets that area has an enclosed area within the top of those few cabinets. Not a biggie since I would need a stool to reach then anyway!
    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 6:12AM
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Kalyana White
Here's an example of the open shelving I'm thinking of doing. I have white beadboard backsplash now, so that kind of gives an idea of what I'm going for. I may want a little more space between the upper cabinets and the open shelf.
Rie · More Info
3 Likes    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 7:20AM
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I've seen this done before and I think it's great. I also saw it done with small baskets on the shelves to hold small utensils like potato peelers, pizza cutters, can openers, etc. I hope you do it and post some 'after' pics!
    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 7:33AM
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Amy Stanley
Glad you decided to paint cabinets I think white would work and the upper crown won't clash. love that bead-board behind the shelf look :) The kitchen is going to be super white though any chance of changing appliances and sink to stainless? If not at least beef up the cabinet hardware with bulkier knobs in a brushed nickel and I love the gray bottom idea. I have 42" inch cabinets and have to use a stool but I am only 5'2 my husband can reach stuff better at 5'10 but the tops of the cabinets he can't reach either. Mine are not pushed totally to the ceiling because if the ceiling isn't perfect it would show. I have crown on cabinets.
    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 7:36AM
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Barnhart Gallery
If you're painting them white, then just cut the crown molding off the wall behind them and go all the way to the ceiling. Your carpenter may struggle with the transition from wall crown to cab crown, but in the big picture that's worth figuring out, and not the first thing people will see. Particularly if it's all white. I just tackled an issue like that, and the two rooms where there's an awkwary joinery three inches off the floor are just gently transitioned with caulk, painted the same white, and the rooms have so much to look at, even I've forgotten it's there.
1 Like    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 8:33AM
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Kalyana White
Stainless appliances are probably in next year's budget, but I definitely want to change out the white ones, so they aren't part of my deciding factor. We are also looking to get new granite or quartz countertops in something neutral, but not too light. The wall paint color right now is a yellow/light gold, but will probably be changed to a light gray-ish beige color (something warmer tone but not dark).
I am getting new handles and knobs too. The sink will change to stainless when we get new counters. The faucet has already been changed out to this brushed nickel one (which I'm in love with!):
2 Likes    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 8:49AM
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Terri Symington, ASID
I thing it is great that you are able to paint the cabinets. I would keep the crown moulding and simplify the top trim piece on the cabinets much like the photo I posted of the shelving unit above. Your crown moulding is very nice and by simplifying the trim on the cabinets it will give a nice subtle contrast and will also compliment the simplicity of the open shelving and beadboard back splash.
3 Likes    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 9:04AM
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Ashley @ Domestic Imperfection
That's my kitchen you linked to as your inspiration photo! Weird to see my stuff out there like that :) Anyway, I absolutely love the functionality of the shelf underneath. I was a little worried about keeping it looking nice, but it's just dishes and stuff and those don't ever get crazy. And I still have two shelves I can reach, just like before. The top one I can't get to (I'm 5'3") but I just put stuff up there that I rarely need and it's not a problem. As far as your trim, I'm not sure what I would do with it. Neither our cabinets or walls had trim before we started so I never had that problem. We didn't raise them quite to the ceiling though, we left a little gap and covered it with trim. Perhaps you could raise them up to the trim and them just add a slightly thicker piece of trim to the front of the cabinets to cover it all up? I bet it would look fine though if you just raised them to the trim and left it as is, especially if your planning to paint it all white.
    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 10:56AM
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I think that's a wonderful idea! Sadly, my cabinets are met by a soffit at the top, so there is no way to to raise them. The house I grew up in had cabinets to the ceiling, and my 5'6" mother was forever asking me to get things down. Luckily for her I grew to 5'10" with long arms and legs. High shelves are wonderful for storing things you don't use that often.

In your case, can you remove the crown from the cabinets and match the wall crown instead at the top? Like so?
Traditional Kitchen · More Info
    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 11:12AM
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Won't the wall crown be at the back of the cabinets? Unless you remove it first?
    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 11:55AM
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You're spending tons of $$$ to achieve something that is just a fix, not a permanent solution. Are the builders grade cabinets really what you want for the long term? I understand the do-it-yourself attitude, but it's going to take a lot of effort. If you're going to be adding new appliances and countertops in the future, doesn't it make sense to have a complete plan from the beginning, rather than trying to make things work out?
    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 6:13AM
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Kalyana White
The wall crown won't touch the tops of the cabinets (there will be about 4" clearance if I raise the cabinets to mock 42" ones), and after browsing a lot of kitchen examples, it seems to look fine with leaving the crown alone. I think with the monochromatic effect, it won't be distracting. I may simplify the cabinet crown like someone suggested, but will wait to see after the cabinets are raised to that height.
1 Like    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 7:05AM
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Kalyana White
Quite the contrary, I'm not spending tons of money on this project. The builder grade cabinets are fine for the next few years at least (if not longer), and painting isn't that difficult, just time consuming. My complete plan is to do it in stages due to budget restraints.
The cabinets are in good shape, but they just aren't my fave color. The main thing I wanted to do was to raise the cabinets and put a simple shelf underneath for open storage. Painting the cabinets is just a bonus now. Then the countertops will come into play, along with changing out appliances to stainless steel. I can't delay adding more storage for any longer simply because I can't afford a fancy new remodeled kitchen.
Thank you for your concern. I was mainly just seeking opinions on the cabinet height and shelf.
2 Likes    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 7:06AM
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Kalyana - I'm having similar questions/concerns as I start to update my kitchen and certainly can't afford a complete remodel. Looking forward to see how yours turns out! Info above is quite helpful.
    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 1:44PM
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Terri Symington, ASID
Kalyana... what you are doing will be like night and day for your kitchen. As far as painting cabinets as apposed to replacing them... painted cabinets that you would purchase are made from paint grade wood and particle board, so you actually have a much better product. I would recommend that you remove the doors and drawers and have them sprayed painted for a much smoother finish. You can get that done by a professional painter for a reasonable costs... so you may want to check around and get a few quotes.

Good Luck...!
    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 2:29PM
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I think you have beautiful options above. You could move them up and add shelves or add cabinet space above. Just depends on your taste and budget. Here are some ideas for paint, for wall color, as well as hopefully give you a visual of your cabinets painted. Also a backsplash though. The paint on your upper wall is Taols Taupe, Benjamin Moore, but I am adding a Houzz link that has several nice taupe/gray colors. Sounds like you will have a beautiful kitchen when you are done! If you can also, maybe get new faucet and add some cabinet hardware. http://www.mykitchenoptions.com/countertops.htm http://www.houzz.com/photos/products/Benjamin-Moore-Taos-Taupe/p/24 http://www.mytilebacksplash.com/c-15-1oceanspray.aspx
1 Like    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 4:14PM
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Absolutely awesome, and a very generous, wonderfully detailed description.
    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 4:36PM
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Kalyana White
Thank you so much for your color suggestions and for doing the mock-up for me! Now I'm even more in love with the idea of two-tone cabinets!
I actually just recently replaced the faucet with this satin nickel pull down one (http://www.overstock.com/Home-Garden/American-Classic-Modern-Satin-Nickel-Spiral-Pull-down-Kitchen-Faucet/5266818/product.html), and also have ideas on replacing the hardware.
I can't wait to get started on this project!
    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 5:27PM
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You are so welcome! I love doing it!! I love your faucet!!!!!!! I want one now!!!!! Just keep going, and trust your own judgement. And I should add, that I have successfully painted cabinets myself in 2 different homes.....you don't need to hire somebody to do that. Just make sure your properly sand, and prime.......you will do a beautiful job!!!!!!!!
    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 6:37PM
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Urbana ~ Designer Ellen Crystal
Here is a suggestion:
1) take off the existing ceiling crown--reserve to reuse

2) raise the cabinetry up to just below the existing crown

3) add an L-shape carrier molding on top of cabinets painted wall colour or your new cabinet tone (1 1/2-3" ht)

4) scribe & attach your old ceiling crown along top of the carrier molding. your crown will cover about
1/2 the carrier and allow you to adjust slightly if the ceiling is not quite plumb

5) add your shelves below.

6) as mentioned you'll need to improvise at the micro. Perhaps use a simple drawer front that flips up to access space in between

see accent shelf below, accommodating the planned dishware
    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 8:42PM
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