Taking kitchen cabinetry to the ceiling is a growing trend in kitchen design.
Now that cabinet manufactures offer a variety of wall cabinet heights it is much easier to get this look.
This design choice, often seen in both modern and traditional kitchens, has its fair share of proponents and critics.
As with any design decision, there are pros and cons to consider when deciding whether or not to take your client’s kitchen cabinetry to the ceiling.
In this VESTA Blog, we will delve into the advantages and disadvantages of this design approach, helping you guide your client to make an informed decision for their kitchen space.
Pros of Taking Kitchen Cabinetry to the Ceiling
1. Maximized Storage Space
One of the most significant advantages of extending kitchen cabinetry to the ceiling is the extra storage space it provides.
In kitchens, where every square inch counts, this additional storage can be a game-changer.
It allows clients to store rarely used or seasonal items up high, keeping everyday essentials within easy reach.
In the design above I pulled the high wall cabinets out to the same depth as the flanking tall units for a bit more storage.
2. Clean Aesthetic
Floor-to-ceiling cabinetry can create a sleek and cohesive look in a kitchen.
It eliminates the awkward gap between the top of the cabinets and the ceiling, which is often a dust collector and can be challenging to clean.
The seamless flow of cabinetry from floor to ceiling creates a visually pleasing, uncluttered appearance.
When kitchen cabinetry reaches the ceiling, it provides a sense of unity and balance in the room.
This uniformity can make a kitchen feel more put together and less disjointed, especially if the kitchen has high ceilings or an open-concept design.
The cabinetry in the above example is at the same height as the window treatments providing a cohesive design.
4. Dust & Pest Prevention
Filling the gap between the cabinets and the ceiling also prevents dust and pests from accumulating in those hard-to-reach spaces.
This can lead to a healthier and more hygienic kitchen environment.
Specifying a two step crown moulding above the wall cabinets will allow your installer to get a tight joint at the ceiling to seal the gap.
5. Showcasing Collectables
If your clients have a collection of decorative or antique items, extending the cabinetry to the ceiling can offer an ideal display space.
Glass-fronted cabinets can be incorporated to showcase prized possessions while keeping them safe from dust and damage.
When lit, these glass-door cabinets can also provide a layer of soft light in your kitchen design.
Cons of Taking Kitchen Cabinetry to the Ceiling
One of the most significant drawbacks of floor-to-ceiling cabinetry is the cost.
Building taller cabinets that reach the ceiling requires more materials and labor, making it a more expensive option compared to standard cabinetry.
As a kitchen designer you need to consider this cost may put the design out of reach for some homeowners.
While the extra storage space is a pro, it can also be a con.
Items stored at the top of tall cabinets can become challenging to access, especially if a step stool or ladder isn’t readily available.
This can be particularly frustrating for daily-use items or if your client has mobility issues.
3. Visual Overwhelm
In smaller kitchens or those with lower ceilings, floor-to-ceiling cabinets can create a sense of visual overwhelm.
The abundance of cabinetry can make the space feel cramped and closed-in, rather than open and inviting.
In extremely tall kitchens, taking cabinetry to the ceiling can also feel too top heavy.
The proportion of wall cabinets to base cabinets can be off, if the wall cabinet extend too high.
4. Aesthetic Constraints
Not all kitchen designs are suitable for floor-to-ceiling cabinetry.
In some cases, such as kitchens with architectural features like exposed beams or sloped ceilings, extending the cabinets to the ceiling may disrupt the room’s natural charm and character.
Always check your designs by drawing them in elevation to confirm the proportions.
5. Design Imbalance
While floor-to-ceiling cabinetry can provide a clean and uniform look, it can also make a kitchen feel too “boxy” or overly symmetrical.
Achieving the right balance between aesthetics and functionality can be challenging in such cases.
Again, draw your designs in elevation to ensure you are happy with the final look.
Tips for Making the Design Decision
Considering the pros and cons outlined above, it’s essential to weigh your options carefully before deciding whether to take your clients kitchen cabinetry to the ceiling.
Here are some tips to help you make an informed choice:
1. Consider the Kitchen’s Size
The size of the kitchen plays a significant role in determining whether floor-to-ceiling cabinetry is a suitable option.
In smaller kitchens, it’s essential to balance the desire for additional storage with the risk of visual overwhelm.
In kitchens with high ceilings ensure the proportion of wall cabinets to base cabinets are visually balanced.
2. Think About Accessibility
If you’re concerned about the accessibility of items stored in tall cabinets, consider incorporating pull-out or pull-down mechanisms to make reaching those items more manageable.
You could also specify a rolling ladder system or a built in stool to allow your client to easily access this tall storage.
3. Evaluate the Budget
Your client’s budget will undoubtedly impact the decision.
If extending the cabinetry to the ceiling is financially feasible, it can be a valuable investment.
However, if it stretches their budget too thin, you may need to explore other storage solutions for the design.
A designer tip for overly high ceilings is to include a framed dropped ceiling as a solution.
4. Assess the Design Aesthetic
Consider the overall design of the kitchen and how floor-to-ceiling cabinetry fits into the picture.
Producing a perspective of the design or drawing it in elevation can help visualize this.
If it complements the requested style and enhances the room’s aesthetics, it may be the right choice.
Taking kitchen cabinetry to the ceiling is a design choice that offers both advantages and disadvantages.
It maximizes storage space, creates a clean and uniform aesthetic, and can help prevent dust and pests.
However, it comes with a higher cost, accessibility challenges, and the potential for visual overwhelm in both smaller and taller spaces.
Ultimately, the decision to extend the cabinetry to the ceiling should align with the kitchen’s size, your client’s budget, and their design preferences.
By carefully weighing the pros and cons, you can make an informed choice that enhances the functionality and aesthetics of your client’s kitchen space.
Whether you choose to reach for the sky or keep your cabinetry at a standard height, the goal is to create a kitchen that suits your client’s needs and reflects your client’s personal style.
What is your thoughts on taking cabinetry to the ceiling? Let me know in comments below.
Jan Rutgers has been designing kitchens and products for over 25 years and is a recipient of Kitchen & Bath Design News’ Top Innovators in 2020 for the Kitchen & Bath Industry. She has designed more than 1000 kitchens learning valuable skills with each one! Her experience in Kitchen Design, Millwork Manufacturing and Product Development has led her to create VESTABUL SCHOOL OF DESIGN where she educates and mentors people passionate about the Kitchen Design Industry.