Creating a Kitchen Design with an 8' Ceiling to Floor

When designing cabinets for a kitchen with a lower ceiling, there are two options. Using 36" tall upper cabinets allows you to use crown molding along the top; alternatively, you can use 42" tall upper cabinets that reach the ceiling without any molding. The advantages and disadvantages of each option are broken forth below.

36-inch-tall upper cabinets

When planning with an 8-foot ceiling in mind, this is by far the safest option.  Since the cabinets don't reach the ceiling completely, you may install crown molding. The choice of size molding is yours. There will be some more space above the cabinets if you choose a crown molding with a narrower profile.  If you'd rather not deal with that, you may create the illusion that the cabinets reach the ceiling by installing a riser and bigger profile crown molding, which will remove the empty area. Aesthetically, this could be your best option.

Using 42" Tall Upper Cabinets

Choosing 42" upper cabinets will certainly provide you more room in the kitchen, which is something that some people are entirely focused on having.  The cabinets' contact with the ceiling also serves to enlarge the appearance of the ceiling.  However, there are certain limitations to the additional space.  It's likely that your ceiling won't be perfectly level throughout, so to make the uppers appear even, fillers and further work could be required.  Larger top cabinets also make it difficult to install decorative crown molding. It would not be ideal to have slightly lower the cabinets if you wanted even a tiny bit of decorative molding. Although crown molding is only an aesthetic element, it truly completes the room and might not be something you want to remove.

Other Things to Consider

The matching tall cabinet is 96" high if you have chosen to use 42" upper cabinets in your kitchen with a floor to ceiling pantry planned. You are now attempting to install a cabinet that matches the dimensions of your ceiling. Installing this in its upright position can become very impossible because it requires a diagonal measurement of at least 100".

The cabinet's toe kick section must frequently be removed, or the upper rear corner may need to be cut, in order to obtain these additional clearance inches. In addition, if you choose to add a little ½" molding to the backsplash, you will need to take extra space out of the cabinet height in order for everything to fit. In conclusion, a 90" cabinet is practically required with 8' ceilings to assure a perfect fit and the possibility to install the cabinet. This one cabinet needs to be considered, even if you have given up the ornate molding in favor of additional room.

Are cabinets to the ceiling more expensive?

Cabinets to the ceiling will cost more due to the increased height of the cabinet and/or the molding used to continue the cabinets to the ceiling. While cost increases, so do the storage space and aesthetic appeal.

Are ceiling-to-ceiling cabinets worth it?

Indeed, the standard in kitchen design is cabinets that reach the ceiling. They provide the most storage and a unified appearance without sacrificing a "missed opportunity".

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