Extending Kitchen Cabinets to Ceiling: 7 Pros & Cons!

Four different clients of ours were looking for ways to update their kitchens. Two were keeping and reworking/repainting existing cabinets, and two were doing a complete kitchen gut renovation.

NONE of them were thinking about the “extending kitchen cabinets to ceiling” route, but we encouraged them all to do so!

Honestly, extending your kitchen cabinets to the ceiling is a relatively easy, inexpensive update with huge rewards! (Or, if you’re ripping out your existing cabinets, you should still have your new ones touch the ceiling, in most cases!)

What’s involved? We’ll answer all that, plus popular questions like

  • Can you put kitchen cabinets up to the ceiling?
  • Do I need to remove my existing cabinets?
  • How do I extend my kitchen cabinets to the ceiling?
  • Can you add upper cabinets above existing cabinets?
  • How do you fill the gap between kitchen cabinets and ceiling?
  • What’s the cost of extending kitchen cabinets to ceiling?

Good news! Yes, you can extend your kitchen cabinets up to the ceiling and no, you don’t have to remove your existing cabinets! We’ll get into the “how to” later on, but for now let’s step back and take a look at why you should (or shouldn’t) extend your kitchen cabinets to your ceiling!

PS: If you are remodeling, we’re professionals and you need THIS!

Extending Kitchen Cabinets to Ceiling

First, the 2 Extension Options You Need to Choose Between!

First, let’s be clear:

there are two ways to go about this!

WAY #1: Extend kitchen cabinets to ceiling (visually only).

WAY #2: Build extra storage in the space between your existing cabinets and the ceiling.

example of Way #1:

example of Way #2:

Extending Kitchen Cabinets to Ceiling

Extending Kitchen Cabinets to Ceiling: The Pros!

Pro #1: Visually draws eye up. Makes ceilings appear higher.

Pro #2: Gives a more high-end, custom built look to your kitchen instead of looking like standard, builder grade cabinets like in every other standard home.

Pro #3: Bang for your buck! Going along with the above, for the amount of money you put into building them, you’ll get more out at resale because your kitchen will look that much more high quality!

Pro #4: Less intrusive! Whether you DIY or decide to hire the work out, it’s a much less intrusive project than, say, ripping out your entire kitchen and starting over from scratch!

Pro #5: Extra storage space! (if you choose to go that route)

Speaking of storage, save yourself 20+ hours of time with our “Essential Kitchen Organization Guide!”

Extending Kitchen Cabinets to Ceiling

Extending Kitchen Cabinets to Ceiling: The Cons!

Con #1: Whether you DIY this project or hire the work out, it will take some time. It doesn’t magically happen with the snap of one’s fingers, as nice as that would be.😊

Con #2: It will take some money to make it happen, but not much! (Keep reading for our cost estimates & recommendations!)

Extending Kitchen Cabinets to Ceiling

The Verdict

With five big pros and just two cons, can you guess what our recommendation is?😄 If you have the time and money, we say DO IT!

Still, you’d be surprised at how many people balk at the thought of this. And understandably so, sometimes—in the middle of other renovations or life upheavals, it can feel to some like “just one more thing” they can cross off their list in an attempt to make life easier for themselves in the short run.

But in our experience, those who really see the value in putting in a little extra money and effort into extending their kitchen cabinets to the ceiling are wise and will reap the benefits for years to come!

Let’s take a look at that more in-depth, shall we?

Extending Kitchen Cabinets to Ceiling

The Easiest Way to Extend Your Cabinets.

The simplest way to extend your kitchen cabinets to the ceiling is to simply

  1. remove your crown molding,
  2. build a “box” above it, and then
  3. add a crown molding between that and your ceiling.

Really, it’s that straighforward! (And sometimes you can even skip Step 1 and keep your existing crown molding, depending on your design, like the below example! Which still needs to be painted, let’s be clear.)

➜ If you’re serious about improving your kitchen in smart, thoughtful ways, YOU NEED THIS!

Extending Kitchen Cabinets to Ceiling

Extending Cabinets to Ceiling + Adding Storage!

While “Way #1” is certainly the simplest way to go about this, we love adding storage in this space even more! Depending on the design you choose, it’s not much more work…and you get the added bonus of the storage space!

Under this heading, we see 3 different design options for this extra storage space above your existing cabinets:

#1: Open cabinets.

The simplest of the bunch! Instead of closing off your “box” above the cabinets like we showed earlier, you build an open box like this:

Pros:

  • Easier.
  • Less expensive.

Cons: Open shelving presents its own problems, in my opinion. (See my tongue-in-cheek post “Open Shelving is of the Devil.” 🤣 ) You’d better have some beautiful things to display in this space! No clutter allowed!

#2: Glass cabinets.

one, two, three

Pros: These give a more finished-off look in comparison to #1…

Cons: …but you still need to keep these pretty…essentially styling them! Which can be added cost in some cases. And don’t forget the added cost for the glass cabinet faces.

PS: If you’re DIYing/trying to work with what you already have in your kitchen, our “Essential Kitchen Guide” is for you! Really, I’ll wait here while you click to check it out then come back to finish reading…😊

#3: Closed cabinets.

This is my favorite option! Why?

Pros: HIDES ALL YOUR STUFF!💃💃💃 Feel free to fill this high-up cabinets with less-used items, clutter, whatever you want! No one will care, least of all you, because no one will see it! 😁

source

Cons: Some added cost for the cabinet faces. (We’ll share some tips below for keeping this cost a little lower.)

Extending Kitchen Cabinets to Ceiling

Cost Estimates

  1. For just building a facing (Option #1 above), your materials cost will be around $2-3 per square foot if you’re doing it yourself! Paint depends on whether you already have the paint leftover from your existing cabinets or if you’re matching it, in which case you’ll pay $25-35 per gallon of paint. If you’re hiring out, just add your cabinet guy’s labor.
  2. To build actual storage shelves or shelves with cabinet doors, you’ll have a similar cost per square foot, plus an estimated $40-50 per cabinet door (approximately 24″ wide, see tip below).

Tip for keeping cabinet + hardware cost lower:

Instead of buying 2-3 small cabinet faces, you can buy just one long cabinet face and do it this way!

Your upper cabinets don’t even need to open side to side—they can have hinges along the top to open “up”! (You could even make these “hidden” upper cabinets with no hardware, much like we did in our storage cabinet above our fridge here with an awesome magnet!)

Click here for our FREE Interior Design Guide!

Extending Kitchen Cabinets to Ceiling

What NOT to do: The “Barely-Caressing” Ceiling Cabinets

Please don’t follow this example. (We can’t believe these people left it this way! Arghhhhh!)

Do NOT let anyone leave your upper cabinets barely brushing your ceilings! Is this worse than just having them a foot below the ceiling? I can’t even decide, it’s so painful to look at…so I’m looking away and moving on…🤦

Extending Kitchen Cabinets to Ceiling

Extending Kitchen Cabinets to Ceiling Before & Afters

Here you can see 1) shelves, 2) facing only, and 3) cabinets!

one, two, three

If you’re remodeling your kitchen, you need THIS BEBE!

If you’re not doing a full remodel, THIS is essential!

Next…

PS: Our complete list of every single home project is viewable HERE!

PPS: If you’d like our help on your own home be sure to check out our Design Guides & Plans or book a Design Consultation with us!

This Post Has 25 Comments

  1. Julie

    We have a new build and the kitchen ceilings are 12 feet high. We are wondering what is the best solution regarding the stove vent hood so it doesn’t look funny. We would be using 42 inch cabinets with an additional cabinet on top—–any suggestions are appreciated. Thanks

  2. Sheri Wooten

    Hey there! I was on your website and saw your kitchen cabinet redo to the ceiling. What size kitchen cabinets are these? 30 inch?
    Thank you!

  3. Mark

    I am for boxing off the area above the cabinets for a couple reasons. The main one is that the tops of cabinets get really grimy and are very difficult to clean. I put shelf liner on the tops to help with this, but would rather not have to hassle even with that. The other is that any cabinets above the current ones are too high to be easily accessible and thus not likely to be used. I have some open shelving, and have found that it makes the kitchen look cluttered. I am not a designer and most other people are not either. I have had to buy stuff just to put on these shelves that I never use. I would never again buy a house with open shelving.

  4. Tina

    Hello… what a helpful post! Thank you! We have builder-grade cabs with a big crown moulding that sits either 12″ or 18″ below our ceilings, depending. Wondering about simply elevating those to the ceiling, and installing new boxes below the raised existing ones. (Open shelving is not an option for us. We like everything hidden behind doors). Then sanding/painting old boxes and replacing all doors and knobs. Does anyone do this instead of building boxes at the ceiling level?

  5. Ed

    This article is such an organized list of the benefits and drawbacks associated with extending kitchen cabinets all the way to the ceiling! It gives your readers the info they need to make educated conclusions regarding this design choice. Thank you!

    1. Jess

      Thanks Ed! We’re glad you’re all finding it so helpful!☺️

  6. Mia Evans

    I never took into account the fact that it is easy and inexpensive to have cabinets extended open to the ceiling. I wonder if I order a preassembled kitchen cabinet. Doing so will give me an idea if I can afford them right now because it seems like a great option to have additional storage in that part of my house.

  7. Eve Mitchell

    It’s great to know that extending kitchen cabinets will add a lot more storage! I’ve been thinking about getting my cabinets redone because they’re looking really dated. It’d be so nice to talk to a carpenter to get a cost estimate for the whole thing.

  8. CM

    This article will teach you how to extend your current cabinets to make use of the extra space. A excellent method to modernize your kitchen or laundry area if you have builder-grade cabinets. You could put doors on them to hide clutter, but I decided to show off my decorations instead. Everyone has their own design pet peeves, and one of mine is kitchen cabinets that stop short of the ceiling. Making up the plan as we went along, extending our kitchen cabinets to the ceiling was surprisingly simple. I found this essay to be very helpful and would recommend it to others.

  9. Sydney

    Thank you for these 7 pros and cons of extending kitchen cabinet. Very informative and worth sharing.

    1. Jess

      You’re welcome and glad you shared with someone who’d find it helpful! 🙂

      – Jess

  10. Carley

    Hi, have you done a post answering the question about staggered cabinets? I came here to ask the same things. I have 9ft ceilings and probably about 2ft between the top of the shorter cabinets and the ceiling and 1.75ft between the top of the taller cabinets and the ceiling. I have been thinking about doing this for a long time and today my cat barfed on top of the cabinets AND THAT WAS THE LAST STRAW. Was thinking I could buy cabinets and just plop them on top? I have basic builder grade cabinets so it shouldn’t be too hard to find something that will fit in the space and leave room for trim.

  11. Reena

    Curious. what are your thoughts on staggered cabinets and how would take them all the way to the ceiling?

    1. Jess

      Hi Reena,

      That’s a great—and complicated :)—question depending on several factors, such as the ceiling height(s), kitchen layout, specific degree of angle(s), cabinet design, and SO much more! We’ll add this our queue of free design blog post questions to answer in future (just a heads up: we do have MANY questions waiting in the queue!).

      If you need a quicker answer, while we’re booked through 2024, we do provide individual consults on one or two Saturdays each month – you can book that HERE!

      -Jess and Matt

  12. Alaina

    LOVE your backsplash!! Can you share where it’s from?

  13. Patrick

    I’m doing the same thing!

    1. Jess

      Awesome, Patrick! Let us know how your project turns out! Make sure you check out our Kitchen Design Guide resource as well!

      – Jess & Matt

  14. Heather

    Great information! Any recommendations for when your ceiling is at an angle (not 90 degrees, more like 45)?

    1. Jess

      Hi Heather! Without seeing your space, it’s hard to make any EXACT + blanket statements :), but you could always try a different box shape or door swing/style depending on what your situation is! If you’d like more personalized help, you can book a Design Consultation with us here!

      Cheers!
      Jess & Matt

  15. megan

    I love how thrift the idea of extending cabinets with glass doors or even the wide door with hinges to lift up is for making the kitchen look and feel more updated. Where would I buy the glass doors and cab doors from though? Would I need to buy from the cabinet maker of my existing cabinets?

    1. Jess

      Hi Megan! You can buy one-offs to match what you have online and shipped direct to you!

      Jess

      1. Amelia Perez

        Hi and thank for the article, I found your recommendation regarding attaching stacked wide cabinets particularly helpful. I am currently renovating my kitchen cabinets and would like to install 10 wide cabinet toppers. I can’t anything online that would fit the bill. Do you have any recommendations on stores/websites? Your help would be greatly appreciated!

  16. Nedda

    What would you do for 12 foot ceilings? All the way to the ceiling is a long way!

    1. Jess

      Hi Nedda! Yes, depending on the unique home features, there might be different design ideas to make it both maximize storage AND look beautiful! 🙂

      If you’re looking for personalized help with a kitchen design, which is a BIG task, we’re booked through 2023 for big projects but we do offer 1-hour consultations if you’d like 1-on-1 help with any issues you’re running into!

      More details on that HERE and HERE!

      Cheers!
      Jess & Matt

Leave a Reply