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kitchen cabinets height(9’ or 10’)?

January 9, 2019
We are remodeling our home and in new plan ceiling height in the family and kitchen area is 12 feet. I have attached the floor plan.

I like 9 feet cabinets with glass insert on top as shown in attached photo. The problem is that attached photo has 10 feet ceiling while we have 12 feet. Are 9 feet cabinets too short in 12 feet ceiling kitchen?

We have dropped soffit/cloud on top of the island. I am just nervous that 3 feet of empty space on top of the cabinets might be too much? Any interesting ideas or examples on soffit/crown for such big space?

We can look into pushing the cabinets to 10 feet but all of us are ver avg height ppl (5’5”-5’7”), so not sure if we want to pay extra for unused top cabinets. Even if we ignore the cost, we still have 2 feet of space to deal with. Any ideas there?

Color scheme wise we are thinking two tone kitchen with dark slat brown (omega smoky hills) on base cabinets and white on top.

Ideas? Suggestions? Sample photos?

Really appreciate your help.
Thank you!
Comments (33)
  • PRO
    Patricia Colwell Consulting

    Sorry I see no point in12’ ceilings anywhere , not sure what the rest of the ceilings are but to me 12’ just gobbles up energy for heating and cooling with no real advantage. Why not do 10’ and run cabinets to the ceiling because any space up there will be covered in dust all the time unless it is closed in and then it will look like a giant soffit which is really unattractive.

  • PRO

    Agree on ceiling. Anything over ten feet adds nothing but expense, for no real gain.

    Have no idea your personals. But that is quite a trek from garage to pantry and fridge. The island stools if any, will be in prep/fridge traffic. Are you island eaters? It's a long every day schlep to the dining area for a casual meal as well. You need a long hard look at the whole plan and a PRO kd. Look at the master bath too : )

  • zp99
    Thanks a lot for your responses.
    Yeah, 12 is tall but we like that uniform high ceiling with the family room. Unfortunately, can’t change ceiling height at this point...:( wondering if there is other way to make cabinets flow in there.
    Yes, refrigerator is far from garage but we can land in bar area on the way or we have second refrigerator in the mud room.
    Would like to hear your thoughts on master bath too.
    Best regards.
  • afcgirl

    We have 10 foot ceilings in our kitchen and just remodeled with 10 foot cabinets (no soffit above them, just a thin modern trim). The top cabinets (that are above the upper cabinets) are glass with lighting and will be used only for display (we will need a ladder to get up there). I love how it looks. So I would recommend 10 foot cabinets. Also, our kitchen is open to our family room which has even higher vaulted ceilings so you can do different ceiling heights even in one great room. I can post photo if you want to see but the cabinets are not completely finished yet.

  • zp99
    Thanks afcgirl. Would love to see the pics when you get a chance!!

    Best regards.
  • PRO

    I see a really expensive build, with a lot of bells and whistles, and a lot of inconveniences. jmho. Even if you are empty nest, warm climate, no kids etc . Again, jmho.

  • zp99
    Thanks for your feedback Jan. We are in CA with two teenage kids.
  • PRO

    Well. I can only advise. No matter you love to entertain....whatever : ) I'd not want a bar focus in my family room with teen age any gender.

    I wouldn't want them in my path , raiding a fridge and hanging in my traffic pattern with friends, while I was cooking. It appears you DO cook ; you have two dishwashers planned, or you keep Kosher.

    I'm simply saying........re look at the entire thing. The mud seems inadequate, even in a fair weather clime, the chunk devoted to walkin pantry and bar, is limiting island placement.

  • xiangirl zone 4/5 Nebraska

    It will be beautiful. As long as you understand the top cupboards are not going to be easily accessible, you're in good shape. 9' leaves you with 3' of wall space to display or above cabinets. 10' leaves you with 2'. If you build in lighted glass cabinets your display is behind glass doors...and won't gather as much dust. You can display the marlin you caught on your yacht, antique cookie jars, cabbage patch dolls, or Joseon porcelain.

  • afcgirl

    This is not my kitchen (I will try to post photos later, my counters are going in today, yay) but this looks like 10-11 foot cabinets with 12 foot ceilings. Looks great to me!

    North San Antonio Kitchen Remodel · More Info

  • PRO
    Carolina Kitchen & Bath

    Get a design done and look at the proportion of the top row of cabinets. Are the doors with glass too short or too tall? Does the design look too stretched up?

    Personally, I think up to 8' of cabinets is tall enough, but I'm short. The second row only adds extra cleaning to your life and I'm never in favor of that ;) I'd also drop the ceiling, but your past that point, so that's moot. JMHO

  • amazon4

    We have 9' ceilings in our build and boy, did hubby and I have some "discussions" over that (I wanted 9', he wanted 8'). Going to the ceiling with stacked cabinets was costly. But it will look great IMO. Like you said, you just have to realize it's just not every day useable space. 12' would be challenging. But I get what you mean having them be the same as the other area, and not wanting the gap above.

  • zp99

    Thanks again for your feedback Jan. I understand your points and some of that (bar being the focal point etc), we have thought through. Would love to hear your thoughts on kitchen cabinet height. We can not change the ceiling height at this point.

    Thanks Xiangirl, as of now we are leaning towards 10' cabinets (including lighted glass cub on top) and 2' of empty space on top. Yes, I love the idea of having the display behind lighted glass and avoid dust.

    Thanks afcgirl for the picture. It looks great to me too. Love it!

    Thanks Carolina Kitchen and bath. Yes, we are past the point of reducing the ceiling height. I am meeting KD on Monday and see what design suggestions she has come up with.

    Thanks amazon4, yes, I understand that everything on those top selves will be not much of use. We had different height ceiling between kitchen and family before and we did not like it. So, will deal with 12'.

    Once again, thank you all for hearing me out and providing comments. Feels good to be able to discuss this.

  • nidnay

    I would love 12 foot ceilings! No need to go all the way to the ceiling with cabs and you can add some beautiful ceiling drama in the extra space above your cabinetry depending on your taste and style. Some examples...

  • Karen Rose
    We have 10 foot ceilings and did up to the ceiling, the tops are glass boxes with decorative items so they don’t need to be accessed very much if ever. I just like the cohesive finished feeling it gives. House is a mess but you can see the cabinets.
  • PRO
    Anthony Perez

    I am with Patricia, I do not see the point of 12" ceilings, please look at the attached image ( for scale purposes only)of 12' ceiling with 10' elevation, it looks very disproportionate,

  • felizlady
    The biggest negative for building cabinets to 12’ height is the added cost. They also would require a library ladder in order to reach them if you actually put anything waaay up there. The negative for 9’ cabinets will be the necessity of cleaning the tops every week or so because dust will want to collect there. You could have 9’ or 8’ tall cabinets and have dummy fronts to go from the top cabinet to the ceiling....less expensive than useless too- high cabinets but helpful with the dust problem.
  • PRO
    CL Designs

    Anyone that has a 12’ ceiling-I am totally jealous!!!!

    You can put “up/accent” lighting above, shining upwards-more in a soft glow and that’s it!!! plain is beautiful too. Get really creative and get the lights that can change colors-and set the mood for any occasion.

    Otherwise if you have some pretty seasonal things in moderation like fake fruit, large Christmas balls, fall candles, snowmen, etc., but only in one “small gathering” over just a Door or slim set of doors. Maybe in 2 spots, just don’t overkill. Whatever you like. It’s your home, lol.

    If it were my home I would sit back and admire the tall ceilings and beautiful cabinets .

    Good luck.

  • PRO
    CL Designs

    Another choice is staggered height cabinets. That could help your concern. Google them with a 12’ ceiling.

  • Sarah B

    Do not do staggered height cabinets. We just spent a fortune replacing our kitchen because the last people that lived here did that. It looks silly with 12' ceiling.

    We did full height with our 12' ceilings. But have some taller crown at the top for balance.

    Here are some other things we did on our reno:

    1. Our cabinet bottoms to counter distance is the more modern height vs the short height of the 80's/90's which looks more balanced and actually more comfortable for reaching (we are all 5'5 or taller)

    2. We made the first row of cabinets slightly taller than standard 42 - I think they are 44 - it looks balanced and normal.

    3. We put a 12 or 15" second row of cabinets above those - we did not do clear or lit in those since there is another section of crown above that and it would cut the room short. Yes those are "hard to access" and yes they are a "waste of money" because we will never open them or use them but its our money and we like the look.

    4. We did a 3 level crown. that doesnt' look oversized in the space.

    We love our kitchen and yes we could have saved 10k by doing things differently, but given our neighborhood and home and our tastes we are thrilled we did it what we saw as more complete vs trying to save a little money on a full house renovation.

    BTW - I LOVE LOVE LOVE having 12' ceilings on the first floor. We have 24 foot ceilings in the family room right off the kitchen. Our gas/electric bill is less than when we had 9ft ceilings through our entire last home (and we increased in size 2k sq ft) because this home as more energy efficient items. The high ceilings helps so much with warm summer days and keeping the house cooler. It doesn't hurt in the winter either because with higher ceilings came larger windows and we get a lot of natural warmth. Your new home is gorgeous and plans look great.

  • Sarah B

    Its hard to tell perspective for height in these and we are still in progress wrapping things up - but here is what we did. For measure - the island is a full jumbo slab (130' wide x 5 or 6' deep)

  • Nicole R Dsp
    Our living and kitchen is a vaulted open concept. I wish our kitchen area could have had a flat 9/10ft ceiling and the vault stayed in the living. Helps separate the space while still feeling cohesive but cozy. I personally find the floor toe ceiling cabs greater than 10ft to look excessive, and wasted expensive space I’d never use.
  • PRO

    As long as you are willing to double your budget for it all, go with the height and the library ladder. It is far from an insignificant cost increase. If the room doesn't match the ceiling heights in the rest of the home, it will look like you've mated two different home's. A dachshund and a Great Dane. That's the #1 mistake in renovations.

    You have to look at the style cues of the existing home if you don't want it to look like this. That's a big ????? WHAT were they thinking??

  • PRO
    CL Designs

    Well Lots of clients really like the look of staggered-I never tell someone never,, lol. Everyone likes their own, but in the right setting.....absolutely staggered height is great. Staggered height cabinets help take the eye off the large space between the cabinets and ceiling whereas “straight across” cabinets actually makes the heights distinct. BUT everyone is different.

  • Heather N

    Go to the ceiling! I love this look (this isn’t my kitchen, I just like it). Also, how wide is your main sink? I couldn’t tell from the floorplan.

  • zp99
    Thanks Heather N,
    This seems even taller than 12 feet and they have a matching ladder too..:)
  • ci_lantro

    Not only more than 12' and the cabinets stop about 4' short of the ceiling. Reminds me of an ancient hardware store.

  • ci_lantro

    We have dropped soffit/cloud on top of the island.

    Then what is the point of having 12' ceilings? With a dropped ceiling in the middle of the room? Sounds like you're building canyons.

    Floor plan is just all around disproportionate. Tiny, tiny bedroom, dining room, living room? All about the size of the master bathroom. One heckuva' trek from the kitchen to the dining room, too. Mudroon is a hot mess. All those doors & another doorway to negotiate. Narrow passageway. Major bottleneck.

    This plan needs a re-think. Big Time.

  • PRO
    CL Designs

    Is the kitchen a 20’ x 18’? I’m sorry-it’s a bit fuzzy on the smaller wall-

  • PRO
    The Cook's Kitchen

    What height ceilings does the rest of the home have?

  • pleballerina
    As an aside, don’t forget to have extra insulation installed in the bedroom walls that abut the garage and mud room...it will help with noise and heat retention when the weather is cooler. Good luck with your new home.
  • zp99
    CL design, yes the kitchen is abt 20x15 till the pantry door.
  • zp99
    The cook’s kitchen, kitchen and family area is 12’. Rest of the house is 10’.

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