11 Clever Ways to Use the Space Above Your Kitchen Cabinets

The space above kitchen cabinets originally served a practical purpose. It provided space for air circulation in kitchens without modern ventilation systems. These gaps were also used to accommodate structural elements of the home, such as ceiling beams and uneven ceiling heights.

The space above the cabinets became a standard look in kitchens, but it has recently fallen out of favor with modern kitchen designers and been replaced by cabinets built to the ceiling. This awkward space above the upper cabinets still exists in many kitchens.

Even though decorating above kitchen cabinets has a reputation for being kitschy and overdone, there are creative ways to make good use of the space above your kitchen cabinets.

Leave it Empty

Using the Space Above Your Kitchen Cabinets

The area above kitchen cabinets is a common design element in many homes. This presents both challenges and opportunities for creatively utilizing this space.

Create Extra Storage Space

Using the space above the cabinets for extra storage allows you to make the most of your valuable kitchen space while also increasing its efficiency. This is especially true if you have a small kitchen or limited cabinet space. This strategy necessitates a careful selection of items that work well for display as well as those that you need in your kitchen. Items can be placed directly on the cabinets or grouped with others that are similar. Make sure to vary the height and arrangement of the items to make them appear layered.

You can also use baskets or bins with the same shape, size, and design to store extra kitchen items. This strategy does not make a bold design statement, but it will make the space above your kitchen cabinets appear more cohesive.

Display Greenery

Dorn Homes

One trend that has always been popular is to use the space above the cabinets as more space for your indoor garden. This is an excellent idea for kitchens with ample light and for people who have the time and energy to put toward maintaining their houseplants. Placing potted plants or trailing vines above the cabinets is an easy way to add more vibrancy and life to the kitchen. Opt for low-maintenance plants like pothos or succulents to ensure that they remain lush and healthy with minimal effort.

Curate Artwork or Collectibles

Dura Supreme Cabinetry

The area above your kitchen cabinets is an ideal place to serve as a mini-gallery for artwork and decorative displays. Consider layering framed wall art with a similar theme or displaying a set of rarely used china. You can also use the space above the cabinets to further the theme of your home. This area is not just useful for storing those items; this strategy also allows you to display items that showcase your interests and personality.

Build a False Wall

Crisp Architects

Creating a false wall above your kitchen cabinets takes more effort than many of the other ideas, but it can be a good option in certain situations. This approach involves installing drywall to fit the space above the cabinets. Building a false wall is ideal for adding space to hide pipes and wires in your kitchen. A false wall also makes an excellent backdrop for crown molding or other decorative trim.

Creating a false wall above the cabinets results in a more streamlined kitchen design. Building a false wall will not only simplify the appearance of your kitchen but will also reduce the need for frequent dusting and cleaning in this awkward and difficult-to-access area.

Add Extra Shelving or Cabinetry

Andrena Felger 

One of the best ways to make use of the extra space above your cabinets is to install additional shelving or cabinetry. This addition will also make your kitchen cabinets look more modern and expensive. You can customize this approach to your kitchen’s design and layout, as well as your storage needs.

You can either match your existing cabinets with new shelving and cabinetry or add a contrasting element. Open shelving allows you to create displays of items that you want to highlight while also giving your kitchen a casual and cozy appearance. Closed cabinets simplify the kitchen’s design and reduce visual clutter on display.

Distract With a Distinctive Ceiling

Charles Street Design

Adding texture and depth to ceilings is an excellent way to distract from the awkward space above the cabinets. This approach draws the eye upward toward the interesting ceiling design and away from the cabinets, using decorative ceiling elements like beams or molding.

When choosing a ceiling design, consider which style will complement your kitchen style. For a classic look, consider molding or panels that will elevate the style of the ceiling. Beams, both rustic and sleek, work well for farmhouse or traditional kitchens. Contrasting the ceiling decorations with the cabinets will further highlight this design feature.

Extend the Backsplash

Charles Street Design

One easy way to create more visual continuity in your kitchen without adding extra cabinetry or adding storage items above the cabinets is to extend the backsplash above the cabinets. The idea creates a continuous vertical area that draws the eye up and effectively minimizes the gap. This approach also gives your kitchen a streamlined and sophisticated look.

Whether you choose a bold geometric or striped tile to create a stunning visual display or just classic subway tile, the backsplash to the ceiling can become a standout feature of your kitchen and further your distinctive style. Extending the backsplash also has practical benefits. It can create a more durable wall surface than drywall and extend the sense of height and openness in the kitchen.

Incorporate it Using Open Shelving

Dawn Hearn Interior Design

Rather than focusing on the area above the cabinets, integrate more fully into the kitchen design by adding an area of open shelving. A set of open shelves in place of a standard bank of cabinets will make the open space above the cabinets look more natural.

Open shelving will detract from the space above the cabinets in other ways. They allow you to create a display of visually appealing and functional items such as cookbooks, glassware, and decorative items to add personality and warmth to your kitchen. Arrange items thoughtfully, combining functional and decorative items to create a lovely but functional design.

Add Windows

Powell Construction

If you have extra space above your kitchen cabinets due to a high or vaulted ceiling, installing windows is a unique and innovative way to make your kitchen appear lighter and brighter. Depending on the window design, they can add architectural interest and create a striking visual feature in a kitchen.

There are many window shapes and sizes available to fit your needs, depending on how your kitchen is laid out and designed. If you need privacy due to the window’s placement, you can find specialized glass textures such as frosted or wavy, which provide light while distorting visibility.

Just Add Books

Books are not just practical and necessary in a kitchen; they are also a wonderful way to add color and texture to the space. Depending on the height of your cabinets, storing books like cookbooks is an ideal way to utilize the space above them and give your kitchen a more natural and colorful appearance. This also keeps your cookbooks visible and accessible, so that you can use them at any time.

Be sure to include a step stool in your kitchen area so that you can access the books easily when you need to reference them. Be aware that sticky residue will build up on anything above the cabinets, so depending on how much you cook, books may not be a good over cabinet storage item for your kitchen.

Leave it Empty

Searle & Taylor

It might serve you better to leave the space empty if decorating the space above your cabinets makes you feel overwhelmed rather than energized. This is definitely the easiest way to “style” the space above the cabinets. This idea works particularly well for modern, mid-century, or minimalist kitchen styles. The practical benefits of this approach include ease of maintenance and a more neutral design canvas for other visual kitchen elements.

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