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Dealing with Wasted Space on Top of Kitchen Cabinets

kitchen with a small gap between wall cabinet top and ceiling

Kitchens usually come in standard heights and dimensions so most people can work comfortably in them. Kitchen cabinets are particularly important as they determine the height and width of the work space and storage. They come in two variants: wall cabinets and base cabinets. With these two variants, you may also have to deal with cabinet ceiling gaps. To tackle this, you must make wise decisions and get the most out of the awkward spaces.

Base cabinets are usually about 36 inches from the floor with countertops. Installers usually hang wall cabinets from 18 to 20 inches above the base cabinets, which is high enough to prevent most people from hitting their heads on it when working on kitchen countertops. It is also low enough for most people to access the contents of cabinets without too much trouble. From kitchen cabinets to ceiling, these elements align the entire kitchen space. 

These standard heights are with respect to the floor. Since there must be a small gap between cabinets and ceiling. Usually, the height of the ceiling is eight feet (96 inches),whereas the typical height of a wall cabinet is 36 inches, this would leave a gap of between kitchen cabinets and ceiling of about 4 and 6 inches on top of kitchen cabinets. In most cases, the small gap between cabinets and ceilings usually goes to waste. It is too high to reach comfortably unless you have a ladder, and usually too small to be of much use for anything else but as a dust collector.

Can you have your kitchen cabinets extended to the ceiling? There might be simple blank space that is usually not being used. However, the spaces between the cabinets and ceiling can always be enhanced in some way. 

You could use this space for so many benefits such as a separate place for your cat. However, if you do not like to hang out with your pets in your kitchen, you can put on your favorite pot plants or some decorative lamps. To make it easy for you, here are some ideas for dealing with wasted space on top of kitchen cabinets.

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1. Go for taller cabinets

wall cabinet that goes all the way to the ceiling
Many homeowners prefer to have a look at continuous wall cupboards with no space above them. If you want the best use of your extra space, opt for taller cabinets and use the upper cabinetry shelves for holding less-used items. The taller cabinets give a solution for closing space above kitchen cabinets. It is equally important to know the dimension of your kitchen space. Before thinking about getting a taller cabinet for your kitchen, keep the fact in mind that it is quite difficult to reach. Most manufacturers offer RTA cabinets in 6-inch increments, from 30 to 42 inches. If you have an 8-foot ceiling and hang your wall cabinets at 18 inches above the countertops, a 42-inch high cabinet will fit snugly right up to the ceiling. Voila! No gap. If you still have a space between kitchen cabinets and ceiling, it should be narrow enough to close with crown molding.

2. Add shorter cabinets


short cabinets with top hingesTall people just do not understand the fact of having tall cabinetry, it is quite difficult for shorter-height cabinets. It is not just the wall cabinets either. It makes your arms tired and not as safe either. Therefore installing shorter cabinets is the ultimate solution. You can transform your small workspace from a painful chore to a joyful place for people of any height.

If you have a 9-foot ceiling, that leaves a wide enough gap to actually put in functional cabinets. Some manufacturers offer 18-inch cabinets with top hinges. This is an ideal space for storing things that are used occasionally, such as dishes for special occasions. If you are specific enough to have cabinets for short people, 42-inch cabinets 8-foot ceiling is the best possible dimension to opt for.  

3. Close it


gap covered by wood and crown moldingKeeping your budget in mind, if replacing your wall cabinets with taller ones is not in the budget, you can close up the gap with some screen bead or MDF. This will give your wall cabinets a more seamless look, and you avoid any dust accumulating in them. Another great way is to add a pop of matching paint whatever you use to cover up the space between kitchen cabinets and ceiling, and clean the edges with crown molding. This will hide the gap and you are the person who knows it well.

4. Line it with books


books along kitchen cabinet-ceiling gapTo filling in space between cabinets and ceiling, you can utilize this space as a bookcase, especially if you have very little storage. Covering it up might be even more of a waste. You can put your cookbooks in there, or other kinds of books that you do not read regularly. You do have to be circumspect about where you put them, as any books over the cooking area or your refrigerator can get pretty steamy. For the cabinets for 9 foot ceilings, you must have to be wise enough to deal with your space.

5. Use it as planters

plants in kitchen cabinet-ceiling gap

Gaps on top of kitchen cabinets is bad from a feng shui perspective, as it is a spot where stagnant energy can accumulate. On the other hand, plants have no exception to install at any place. Catch two birds with one stone by converting that awkward space into platters. Choose plants that thrive in low-light, high-humidity conditions and require little attention such as philodendron or photos. Real green plants work amazingly well because they look great and clean the air at the same time. But if you do not maintain the natural plants, as they need maintenance, you can also choose artificial plants for even less maintenance.

6. Collection that goes together


CNC Luxor Smoky Grey Kitchen Cabinet Collection | HD SupplyIf you have a great collection of different kinds, you can organize and assemble your antique stuff on the top of your cabinet to cover up the cabinet ceiling gap.  It is an innovative way to present your sense of personality with much beauty and draw the eye. Make sure to put the things rightly and find a perfect suitable place for them. You can also put your electronic items that can easily be stored on the space between kitchen cabinets and ceiling. Transform your space with your vignette items and exemplify your space in an innovative way.  

7. Store rarely-used items


baskets along kitchen cabinet-ceiling gapInstead of stashing stuff you almost never use in closets for attics, you can store them on top of kitchen cabinets. So, use the small gap between cabinets and ceiling to store your rarely used items for closing space above kitchen cabinets. Keep them organized in decorative baskets or plastic bins. This will also look quite attractive. Choosing plastic bins with covers will also keep the contents dust-free.

Extending your cabinets towards the ceiling gives a maximum space. You can place you rarely used pots and utensils but also a great way to add a theme to your place.

8. Display decorative items


artwork or vintage items along kitchen cabinet-ceiling gap

If the space on top of your cabinets is more than 4 or 6 inches, you can actually use it as a display case. You can line your favorite artwork along its length, or arrange vintage pots in attractive groups. Even for the kitchen cabinets’ 9-foot ceiling, there are so many influential decorations you can use. Even the attractive peel and stick wallpapers can be a great thing to consider for the cabinet doors. Make some permanent modifications to your kitchen and express your aesthetics to the large gap between cabinet and ceiling. 

You can use your large gap between the cabinet and ceiling by putting pottery and ceramic pieces in there if you have any. Since the kitchen is often the center of the home, placing your decorative stuff in it without taking up regular work and storage space is a clever use of the space.


The top of your kitchen cabinets to the ceiling tends to be an issue for many people, but these tips should give you some idea of dealing with the wasted space. With the practical solutions of closing space above kitchen cabinets, you can effectively deal with your awkward spaces.

You do not need a professional installer to implement most of these strategies, but it does help when you incorporate it into your design during a remodel. Cabinetland Kitchen and Beyond is a local remodeling company with a showroom located in Schaumburg, Illinois. We service the areas of Chicago, Schaumburg, Arlington Height. Des Plaines, Hoffman Estate, Elk Grove Village in Illinois.

We work only with the best brands at the best prices compared to our competitors such as Advance Cabinets and Handsome Cabinets. Also we offer better free consultation services and quotes, so you know exactly what to expect from your purchase.

We have the expertise and resources to complete virtually any type of kitchen cabinets – ON TIME and ON BUDGET with top-quality craftsmanship that will exceed your expectations.

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