What to Do with Awkward Spaces over Kitchen Cabinets

kitchen with a small gap between wall cabinet top and ceiling

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A kitchen without kitchen cabinets is an unlikely circumstance. Kitchen cabinets serve many purposes, not the least of which is storage. In most cases, these come in a set of wall and base cabinets typically installed at standard heights for easy access.

Installers tend to hang wall cabinets about 18 to 20 inches from the kitchen countertops, which is about the right height for using small appliances and working on the countertops in comfort. When the wall cabinet bottoms are less than 18 inches, most people find it too cramped. While it is perfectly fine to hang it higher than 20 inches, some people might find it too high to access the contents easily.

One issue that might affect your choice of the height of wall cabinets is the space over the kitchen cabinets. This is usually an awkward space in kitchens with a standard ceiling height of 96 inches (8 feet), as it is just six inches if you choose standard wall cabinets that are 36 inches in height. It is also too high for most people to reach without a ladder or stool, so in many kitchens, it only serves as a dust collector.

However, that does not have to be the case in your kitchen. Here is what to do with awkward spaces over kitchen cabinets.

Get taller cabinets

wall cabinet that goes all the way to the ceiling

The most obvious way to close up the open space over kitchen cabinets is to simply get taller cabinets. You do not even have to get custom cabinets. Cabinet makers routinely produce wall cabinets ranging from 30 inches to 42 inches high in 6-inch increments, so choosing a 42-inch should close the gap if you have an 8-foot ceiling. You can close up any gaps remaining with crown molding.

Close it up with a wood panel

gap covered by wood and crown molding

If new wall cabinets is not in the cards, you can still work with the cabinets you already have by closing t up with a wood panel. It could be an MDF or perhaps a screen bead. Whatever you choose, you can put it in yourself or ask a contractor to do it for you. Closing up the gap ensures it will not collect dust, and make your kitchen look seemless if you paint or finish the panel to match your kitchen cabinets.

Use it to store books

books along kitchen cabinet-ceiling gap

Another way to go is to use that small space to house some of your books. The most obvious ones would be cookbooks, but you can also use it to store books you do not normally need within easy reach. If you go this route, make sure you keep them away from areas directly above anything that produces heat, steam, or other types of moisture, such as the refrigerator, oven, microwave, and stove.

Bring in plants

plants in kitchen cabinet-ceiling gap

Plants in kitchens is often a good idea, not only from an esthetic sense, but also in a functional sense, especially if you put them in that awkward space over kitchen cabinets. Plants clean the air as it adds a bit of vibrant color in the room. Additionally,  feng shui prohibits dead space in that area because it is where stagnant energy collects, and plants is the recommended solution for that. Live plants that require just the occasional attention is the best choice, although artificial ones can do at a pinch.

Stash stuff

Instead of storing little used stuff in the attic or utility closet, you might want to consider putting them in the space over kitchen cabinets. You can use plastic bins or baskets to organize them even as you keep them out of the way. It will take some effort to reach them again, but that should not be too much of an issue if you only need them infrequently.

Display decorative pieces

artwork or vintage items along kitchen cabinet-ceiling gap

Larger gaps resulting from a high ceiling can give you a bit more flexibility. You can use it to display your decorative pieces such as copper pans, brass kettles, ceramic pots, or even artwork. If you have a collection of colored wine bottles or decanters, this is also a good place to put them. The only drawback to this is you will have to take them down and dust them off occasionally.

Put additional cabinets

If storage space is a premium for you, and you have a high ceiling, you might want to consider putting in special cabinets with upper hinges. You can store infrequently used dishes or décor in them to put them to good use. Manufacturers might be able to offer glass-fronted cabinets or sliders for a more esthetic look.


Most kitchens have space over kitchen cabinets, but they are only a waste if you do nothing about it. Knowing what to do with awkward spaces over kitchen cabinets can improve the look and function of your kitchen with very little effort. Of course, it is always better to implement these suggestions during a kitchen remodel with a reliable contractor. We have many options at Cabinets City. And we service cities such as Chicago, Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, Des Plaines, Hoffman Estate, Elk Grove Village, and surrounding areas.

We carry some of the best brands in the country, from RTA to custom cabinets, and at the best prices compared to Cabinets To Go and Advance Cabinets. These include Schrock, Fabuwood, J and K, Forevermark, and Wolf Cabinets, each of which come with manufacturer warranties. We always deliver on time, so you will not have to worry about keeping your schedule to stay in budget.

We can advise you on the best cabinets to address the awkward spaces over kitchen cabinets. Give us a call for a free consultation and quote, or visit our showroom in Mt. Prospect, Illinois today!

Bayram Gulsen

Bayram Gulsen is the owner of Cabinets City. He always had this passion to redefine cabinetry to be at its best along with his dedicated team and the author of Cabinets City blog: You can find Bayram on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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