Living in an older farmhouse (built in 1938, to be exact) means that our home has a ton of character—Ornamental door knobs! Old-fashioned fireplaces where you wouldn’t expect! Decorative woodworking!—but also plenty of practical downsides. One of the biggest logistical pains is that (like most farmhouses of its day) our home has a relatively tiny kitchen: not Brooklyn apartment-levels of cramped, for sure, but definitely not completely comfortable for two people chopping and sautéing simultaneously. And the lack of storage space? Don’t get me started.
One fateful night, after a particularly acrobatic and squished-together dinner-making process, we decided to take the first baby step toward making our kitchen at least feel a little bit bigger: Raising our cabinets to the ceiling.
If your house was built anytime in the 20th Century, there’s a high likelihood that the cabinets sit at a really strange juncture: right in the middle of the wall. This leaves a bunch of unused space—that basically serves no purpose but to gather dust—between the top of the cabinet and the ceiling while also cutting off the height of the kitchen, thus giving the illusion that you’re cooking in extremely close-quarters. Raising the cabinets to the ceiling gives an almost immediate sense of openness to a kitchen, while also providing for extra storage space below the cabinets. It’s a budget-conscious (read: pretty much free) win-win that’s DIY-friendly.
And the process couldn’t be simpler. Most cabinets are hung using just four screws (really!), so to begin, remove your cabinets from the walls by carefully taking out (and saving) the screws. Next, using a level to double-check that everything is even, move the cabinets up to the ceiling and re-screw them back in, making sure to find the studs in the wall for maximum cabinetry support.
After making the big lift, you’ll probably find the space where the cabinets once lived is not painted, so the next order of business is getting it covered in some way. Go as elaborate (new backsplash tile all over!) or not (just paint the spots to match!) as you want, and then begin planning more exciting prospects: new under-cabinet storage space! Here, you can build a small open shelf to go underneath the cabinets, install a horizontal spice rack or even store taller jars filled with essentials like flour and sugar to free up pantry space. When it’s all said and done, you’ll marvel that you hadn’t made the lift sooner.
Replacing cabinetry is often one of the most expensive—and daunting—parts about redoing a kitchen, but by simply raising cabinets to the ceiling, you can give your pint-sized space a little bit extra breathing room without breaking the bank.