How to Extend Kitchen Cabinets to the Ceiling

how to extend kitchen cabinets to ceiling

Does your kitchen space leave a gap between the upper cabinets and the ceiling that feels like wasted potential? If you find yourself hanging in agreement, you’re not alone. Many homeowners with high ceilings grapple with the challenge of making the most of that extra space. The solution? Extending your kitchen cabinets to the ceiling.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll look into the art of extending kitchen cabinets, exploring various methods and considerations that go into this transformative process. Whether you’re aiming for a DIY ceiling-height kitchen cabinet project or looking for professional insights, this article has you covered.

High-Ceiling Kitchen Renovations

One of the most common aspirations among homeowners with spacious kitchens and lofty ceilings is to seamlessly extend their cabinets to the very top. The desire to eliminate the vacant space between upper cabinets and the ceiling is not just about closing a gap; it’s about transforming your kitchen into a compatible and aesthetically pleasing space.

Budget Considerations

The search for extending kitchen cabinets to the ceiling offers multiple avenues, each with its own set of considerations. The approach taken depends on factors such as budget, the desired aesthetic, and the height of the kitchen ceiling. In the sections that follow, we’ll explore four popular methods:

  1. Double-Stacked Cabinets
  2. Bulkhead Trim and Crown Moulding
  3. Bulkhead Trim Only
  4. Multi-Panel Doors

Each of these methods presents a unique blend of benefits and challenges, catering to different tastes and financial plans. Let’s explore these options one by one to guide you in making an informed decision for your high-ceiling kitchen renovation

Double-Stacked Kitchen Cabinets

Ideal Ceilings for Stacked Cabinets

how to extend kitchen cabinets to ceiling

When it comes to filling the vertical space in your kitchen, double-stacked cabinets stand out as a sought-after solution. This approach not only addresses the empty wall area but also introduces a touch of sophistication, particularly suitable for kitchens with transitional or traditional styles.

Generally, the maximum ceiling height for double-stacked cabinets is around 9 feet. This provides enough space to make the stacked cabinets visually proportional to the rest of the kitchen. However, ceilings lower than 9 feet may not offer adequate space to maintain the desired aesthetic.

Additional Expenses and Considerations

While stacked cabinets introduce a touch of luxury, it’s essential to be aware of the accompanying expenses and design considerations. Beyond the cost of the cabinets, several design accommodations may become part of the project, including:

  • Overlay Panels for Kitchen Cabinets
  • Kitchen Cabinet Glass Inserts
  • Interior Kitchen Cabinet Lighting
  • Kitchen Cabinet Box Alterations
  • Kitchen Cabinet Installation Work

In the upcoming sections, we’ll explore each of these elements in detail, shedding light on their purposes and the considerations involved. Join us as we undo the complications of extending kitchen cabinets to the ceiling, exploring the nuances that contribute to a well-designed and seamlessly integrated kitchen space.

Overlay Panels for Kitchen Cabinets

Purpose of Overlay Panels

The concept of stacked cabinets involves placing a second row of cabinets atop the first, creating a visually appealing vertical extension. However, this “stack” introduces a seam between the top of the bottom cabinet and the bottom of the top cabinet. To achieve a polished and cohesive look, overlay panels come into play.

Overlay panels serve the purpose of concealing the seam, providing a seamless transition between the stacked cabinets. These panels need to be custom-ordered and manufactured to the specific height of the combined cabinets. For instance, if you have 30-inch upper cabinets with 15-inch cabinets stacked on top, your overlay panel should be 45 inches long.

Material Considerations

It’s essential to note that the choice of material for overlay panels can impact both the aesthetic and practical aspects of your extended cabinets. Depending on the cabinet maker you work with, some materials may have height limitations.

Kitchen Cabinet Glass Inserts

how to extend kitchen cabinets to ceiling

Glass inserts in stacked cabinets offer a sophisticated solution for showcasing unique and decorative dishware. This choice not only highlights your prized possessions but also imparts a sense of openness to your kitchen. The transparency of glass creates an illusion of more space, making it an attractive choice for kitchens with high ceilings.

Strategic Placement for Glass Inserts

While the idea of glass inserts is appealing, it’s crucial to approach their placement strategically. Designer Vanessa Horwat advises against placing glass inserts directly above large appliances like the fridge. Cabinets above appliances are often deep, and transforming such a substantial storage space into a display for a single piece of crockery might not be the most practical use.

Interior Kitchen Cabinet Lighting

If you’ve chosen to include glass doors in your stacked cabinets, the next consideration is illuminating the interior with display lighting. Interior cabinet lights not only highlight your showcased items but also add a layer of ambient lighting to your kitchen, enhancing its overall mood.

Accent lighting inside cabinets creates a warm and inviting atmosphere, turning your glass-fronted cabinets into curated displays. However, this additional layer of design detail comes with its own set of considerations and potential costs, particularly when coordinating with your electrician.

Kitchen Cabinet Box Alterations

For kitchens with existing bulkheads that will remain in place during renovations, a viable solution involves customizing the cabinet boxes. This customization includes notching the backside of the cabinets to accommodate the bulkhead seamlessly.

This approach allows the stacked upper cabinets to fit snugly around the bulkhead, effectively concealing it from view. However, it’s important to acknowledge the trade-offs involved. Customizing cabinet boxes may require sacrificing some cabinet space, and the notched top panels may not be suitable for glass inserts.

Kitchen Cabinet Installation Work

It goes without saying that extending your cabinets upwards adds an additional layer of complexity to the installation process. Stacking cabinets introduces a whole new row that your contractor needs to work with, translating to additional labor.

Installation costs are often calculated based on the number of boxes, and the more boxes there are, the more work is involved. As you venture into the realm of extending kitchen cabinets to the ceiling, understanding the intricacies of installation work becomes crucial for budgeting and planning.

Stay tuned as we continue our exploration of kitchen cabinet extensions.

Bulkhead Trim and Crown Moulding

Pairing crown moulding with bulkhead trim offers an effective solution for concealing the remaining foot of space, and it’s likely a more budget-friendly option compared to stacked cabinets.

how to extend kitchen cabinets to ceiling

Bulkhead Trim

For those seeking an alternative to the stacked cabinet look, yet desiring to eliminate the leftover empty wall space, a combination of crown moulding and bulkhead trim can work wonders. This approach not only adds a finishing touch to the remaining foot or so of space but also proves to be a cost-effective alternative to stacked cabinets.

Cost-Effective Elegance

Crown moulding, though often considered a slightly more luxurious addition, is a worthy investment for those wanting to achieve a seamless transition from cabinets to ceiling. However, if you find yourself renovating on a tighter budget, opting for bulkhead trim without crown moulding can still create a polished look while minimizing expenses.

Ideal Ceiling Heights

The bulkhead trim-only approach is particularly suitable for kitchens with ceilings ranging from 8 to 9 feet. This range ensures that the addition of bulkhead trim remains proportionate and harmonious within the overall design. Ceilings higher than this may present challenges in incorporating bulkhead trim effectively.

Removing Drywall Bulkhead

If your kitchen features a drywall bulkhead, you might be contemplating its removal for a cleaner, more open look. However, the feasibility of this depends on the original purpose of the bulkhead. Often, it conceals mechanical vents, wiring, or plumbing, making its removal impractical.

Feasibility Check

Before deciding to remove a drywall bulkhead, always consult with your contractor. They can assess whether the bulkhead serves a functional purpose or if it’s purely cosmetic. Removing a bulkhead that houses essential elements can lead to complications, whereas non-functional bulkheads may be safely taken out.

In the upcoming section, we’ll explore another non-stacked design option to fill the empty wall area: multi-panel kitchen cabinet doors.

Multi-Panel Kitchen Cabinet Doors

Exploring Non-Stacked Design Alternatives

As we navigate the realm of extending kitchen cabinets to the ceiling, our exploration now turns to multi-panel doors—an interesting alternative to the traditional stacked cabinets. This design option offers a unique visual appeal, sectioned off by rails to create the illusion of two doors when, in fact, it’s a single door.

A Budget-Friendly Design Option

Multi-panel doors present a more budget-friendly alternative to stacked cabinets, providing all the visual impact with less financial strain. The distinct sections on the doors add a touch of complexity to the design, breaking away from the monotony of a single, uninterrupted surface.

However, it’s important to note that the height of these multi-panel doors might not guarantee reaching the ceiling on their own. Deslaurier, for instance, has a maximum height of 41 inches for upper cabinets. Depending on your ceiling height, achieving the stacked cabinet appearance may still require the addition of crown moulding and/or bulkhead.

Maximizing Kitchen Storage with Taller Cabinets

Elevating Functionality: A Closer Look at Height Expansion

As we explore the various avenues for extending kitchen cabinets to the ceiling, the focus now shifts to the practical aspect—maximizing storage space. Taller cabinets not only contribute to the aesthetics of a high-ceiling kitchen but also offer an opportunity to enhance functionality and organization.

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Step-by-Step Cabinet Height Extension

Achieving taller cabinets involves a step-by-step process that combines precision and design finesse. Let’s break down the key considerations for extending your cabinets to new heights:

  1. Measure Twice, Cut Once: Accurate measurements are the foundation of any successful cabinet extension. Measure the available space carefully, considering both the height and width, to ensure a seamless fit.
  2. Selecting the Right Materials: choose materials that align with your kitchen’s style and durability requirements. This choice encompasses not only the cabinet fronts but also the overlay panels, if utilized.
  3. Cabinet Box Alterations: If your kitchen features a bulkhead that will remain in place, consider customizing the cabinet boxes. Notching the backside of the cabinets allows for a snug fit around the bulkhead, streamlining the visual continuity.
  4. Professional Installation: Enlist the expertise of a skilled contractor for the installation process. Extending cabinet height involves complex adjustments, and professional assistance ensures a seamless integration into your kitchen space.

Extending Kitchen Cabinets: Pros and Cons

Weighing the Options: Making Informed Decisions

In the journey of extending your kitchen cabinets to the ceiling, it’s crucial to consider the pros and cons associated with each design choice. Each method brings its own set of advantages and considerations, shaping the overall impact on your kitchen’s aesthetics and functionality.

Pros of Extending Kitchen Cabinets:

  1. Enhanced Aesthetics: Extended cabinets contribute to a visually cohesive and polished look, eliminating the empty space between cabinets and ceiling.
  2. Increased Storage: Taller cabinets provide additional storage space, allowing you to make the most of your kitchen’s vertical dimensions.
  3. Customization Opportunities: From stacked cabinets to bulkhead trim and multi-panel doors, each option offers a unique opportunity for customization, allowing you to tailor your kitchen’s design to your preferences.
  4. Sophistication and Elegance: Certain design choices, such as stacked cabinets with glass inserts or crown moulding, add a touch of sophistication and elegance to your kitchen.

Cons and Considerations:

  1. Budget Considerations: Extending cabinets can involve additional costs, including overlay panels, glass inserts, lighting, and installation. It’s crucial to align your design choices with your budget.
  2. Accessibility: Stacked cabinets may offer storage that is not easily accessible, primarily serving a decorative purpose. Consider the practicality of reaching items stored in higher cabinets.
  3. Ceiling Height Challenges: Some design options may be more suitable for specific ceiling heights. Bulkhead trim, for instance, maybe more challenging to incorporate into spaces with higher ceilings.
  4. DIY Complexity: While some aspects of cabinet extension can be DIY-friendly, certain tasks, such as electrical work for lighting or precise cabinet alterations, may require professional assistance.

Making the Right Decision for Your Kitchen

Ultimately, the decision to extend your kitchen cabinets depends on a combination of personal preferences, budget constraints, and the practical needs of your kitchen. Consider consulting with a design professional or contractor to get tailored advice based on your unique space.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How to extend kitchen cabinets to the ceiling DIY?

  • Extending kitchen cabinets to the ceiling as a DIY project requires careful planning and execution. Start by measuring the space, choose the right materials, and consider factors like overlay panels and lighting. While some aspects may be DIY-friendly, consulting with professionals for intricate tasks is advisable.

Can you extend existing kitchen cabinets to the ceiling?

  • Yes, existing kitchen cabinets can be extended to the ceiling. Customizing cabinet boxes, adding overlay panels, and considering design elements like glass inserts or bulkhead trim are viable options. Professional assistance ensures a seamless integration with existing cabinetry.

How do you fill the gap between kitchen cabinets and ceiling?

  • The gap between kitchen cabinets and the ceiling can be filled by various methods, including double-stacked cabinets, bulkhead trim, crown moulding, and multi-panel doors. Each option has its own set of considerations, allowing you to choose based on your aesthetic preferences and budget.

How do multi-panel doors compare to double-stacked cabinets in terms of cost and appearance?

  • Multi-panel doors offer a budget-friendly alternative to double-stacked cabinets while maintaining a distinctive appearance. The segmented design adds complexity to the look, providing an elegant touch without the higher costs associated with stacked cabinets.

Tips for extending cabinets to the ceiling?

  • Accurate Measurements: Measure the space carefully for precise cabinet dimensions.
  • Material Selection: Choose materials that align with your kitchen’s style and durability needs.
  • Consideration of Design Elements: Whether using overlay panels, glass inserts, or bulkhead trim, ensure each design element complements your overall vision.
  • Professional Installation: Enlist professional help for tasks requiring precision, such as electrical work or cabinet alterations.


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