simple is beautiful

Accessorizing Upper Cabinets - What to do?

Monday, July 23, 2012

While working with clients on kitchen updates, I often hear the question, "What should I put on top of my kitchen cabinets?"  My first thought is - nothing.  And whatever you do, don't stick a fake fern up there.  This is a time when the old "less is more" rule applies.

If I had my preference, I would choose a cabinet that reaches the ceiling like the one below.


This image came from the tumblr hole.  If anyone knows the original source, please let me know.


My second option would be to leave the space free and clear of tchotchkes as seen in the image above.

Or like this image...


 via

Here is a great example of  upper cabinets that are positioned a foot or more below the ceiling.  The placement of the Roman shade draws the eye upward leaving no reason for additional items to distract you.


The large majority of us are working with what we have until we can do what we really want.  In this case, for those who have cabinets that do not reach the ceiling and feel the need to accessorize the upper cabinets, I recommend going with groups of like things.  Collections.


Micheal Penney scored bigtime upper cabinet points with this collection of baskets.  They work well in contrast with the white cabinets and help move the organic textures around the kitchen.


Here is another example using baskets.  This time all the same size.  Kinda fun seeing them marching in a row.  I like the numbered chalk labels too.  Could be a great way to store extra items that aren't used every day.


Collections of ironstone, milkglass, pottery, and cake stands are all examples of things that would work above the upper cabinets.

 via




Colored glass works especially well on white or maple cabinets where contrast is needed and it's also a great way to bounce an accent color around the room.

If you happen to be a do-it-yourselfer with mad carpenter skills - you might consider adding height to your cabinets.  This kitchen went from this...


to this with a little elbow grease and a trip to Lowes.  


Read more about this project here.

So now it is your turn.  How do you feel about accessorizing the upper cabinets?  Yes, no, maybe so or somewhere in the middle?

29 comments:

  1. I have been starting a collection of seltzer bottles and baskets and am liking the look so far. Perhaps I would like to have cabinets to the ceiling, however I don't at this time.

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  2. I did a post a while back on my struggles with decorating above my kitchen cabinets... if you want to read it here is a link

    http://antiquechase.blogspot.com/2012/01/decorating-above-kitchen-cabinets-why.html

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  3. Great photos. I prefer the space to be empty if there is one. Repeating items in a collection looks nice imo, but I wouldn't want to dust it. We have a builder basic kitchen with a soffit above the cabinets. I dealt with the boring soffit by adding trim that mimics the board and batten wall opposite.

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  4. What?! No tchotchkes on top of cabinets? Then where do I put my Queen plate? *sigh* I hve been spending the summer in rehab--rehabilitating my living room. Prt of that rehab involves a 12-step program for British women who love their "china bits." It's a long, long way for to tote the weary load.

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  5. Great post!!! I think about this too. No joke, one day I came home and my husband put fake vines and empty designer beer bottles above our cabinets. He thought it was the coolest thing ever. I thought about divorce for a few and politely asked him if we could take them down.

    I love the look of a clean cabinet but I like the right accessories too.

    Take Care!
    Mandy

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  6. Yes! I completely agree with you and love all of your inspiration photos! Baskets look great...as long as they are not filled with fake ferns and greenery!

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  7. i accessorized in our last home and then i couldn't live with it.... i think i like it open and clean. or fake ivy. ha ha!

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  8. I love the clean open look, or minimal item or two for texture. Pretty kitchens!

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  9. I made faux ceramic vases for mine-it helped contrast my dark cabinets. I also added one of my paintings. http://www.thehappierhomemaker.com/2012/05/diy-white-faux-ceramic-and-milk-glass.html

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  10. I don't put any decorative items on top of mine, but I do have white Christmas lights up there. You can't see them ... I have them taped down periodically so that they don't pop up. Then the cord runs down the end of the last cabinet and plugs into the outlet in the backsplash.

    It makes a really nice ambient light up there, and it's really cheap! Looks fabulous at night. :)

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  11. The pictures you found with the accessories make it look beautiful! I agree with you that collections can be a good way to draw the eye up--I love the baskets and milk glass.

    -Lane

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  12. Great examples. I am guilty of having an aged kitchen that desperately needs new cabinets. I dislike anything above the uppers. I like the use of cabinets to the ceiling, even if they store rarely used items, it's just smarter I feel.
    Nancy
    powellbrowerhome.com

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  13. Great post! I have had this on my mind a lot lately. We are renovating our new home. There are ten foot ceilings throughout the home. My husband is convinced that we must have a run of lower & upper cabinets. I'm not convinced we necessarily need uppers at all. But, if we do I prefer that they go to the ceiling. There are some great ideas here. Do you think it will look strange to go all the way to the 10 foot ceiling with upper cabinets? I almost think they need to be custom with some shelving and what not....Anyway...Great ideas here! Thanks! Carrie

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  14. Thank you for your responses! It is nice to get the feedback!

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  15. I am with you, Rene, about preferring if you can to leave them bare. If it feels TOO bare, baskets are my second choice, but love all your options and inspiration photos!

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  16. Great post. I am a bare girl. Mine are empty. The only time I place something up there is at Christmas time with lit garlands. I think this comes down to being one of those very personal things. I love to hear all of the thoughts.

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  17. I'm with you... I like the tops of cabinets clean and simple. Although, I did like the look of the clear cake stands in the Martha Stewart pic!

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  18. I like only a few well-chosen accessories. In our previous home, we had rope lighting installed above the cabinets, and it really provided wonderful ambient lighting at night. In our current home, the cabinets go to the ceiling. Really liking the birdcage on top of the refrigerator in Layla's house!

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  19. I also prefer empty but now have a vacation home with limited storage. I like the basket organizers for extra silverware and gadgets.

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  20. All great examples....because some people just don't get it. The eye needs a place to rest and cluttering the top of cabinets with crazy stuff is wrong......

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  21. Love all these kitchens and that second one looks almost like mine! I like the two toned look and cabinet placemen is key.. wonderful examples.

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  22. You're reading my mind! We've got about a foot from the top of the cabinets to the ceiling and it just looks too bare for me (no moulding or anything) I have some glass growlers up there right now but I've been wanting to take them down (which I'm going to do now to see how I like it). But I just purchased a jadeite bowl that I absolutely love and it looks great on top of the cabinet - brings in and repeats the green. I'll keep you posted but this was just on my mind as I placed my new bowl up there.

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  23. Oh, no no , don't junk them up! Keep it clean and bare I say. Those baskets all lined up: how in the world would anyone remember what is in each one? Collections of glass etc.: how in the world would you remember, or get up there, to dust?
    No, absolutely nothing is the best solution by far!

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  24. Hi!

    Love your blog, have never commented until now. I am not sure about the drive to have cabinets reaching to the ceiling. What's the problem, exactly, with having a little room up top?
    I have wonderful white, beadboard cabinets, and I am very happy to have space on top of them. I love some of the pics you have shared of ways to fill the "real estate" up top. I find that it is important to be careful or selective about what is placed. I have seen it done poorly more often than well!
    Personally, I have used blue Ball jars in a crate, a small white vintage suitcase, and some mercury glass. Fills the bill! :)

    Amy in CA

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  25. Thank you for commenting Amy! It is certainly a personal choice as to what to place (or not place) on the cabinets. As I said before, my personal preference is cabinets to the ceiling (mixed with open shelving if possible) simply because that is what I like. My second choice would be to leave them bare. Not everyone agrees with me and that is OK. The important thing is that we all do what makes us happy in our own homes :).

    I have enjoyed getting feedback from so many different perspectives on this topic.

    Thank you!

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  26. I really like kitchen cabinets that reach the ceiling, especially when they have a nice thick crown moulding.

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  27. ....no clutter on cabinets for me and DEFINITELY no ferns or other fake foliage....

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  28. We have a collection of pottery up above the cabinets along with a few baskets. It is all lit up with white lights that are on a motion sensor at night. I love the look. I have black cabinets so everything seems to pop.

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Thanks so much for stopping by! I love your comments and read each and every one. Your questions will be answered here or you can email me at rene.cottageandvine@gmail.com

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