A lot of us have cabinets that don’t hit the ceiling.
These may be in the kitchen, usually as a built-in, OR they could be cabinets in any other room of the house.
What are the rules concerning decorating above cabinets?
Well, it would appear that there aren’t any, because in all of these years, I have seen it all. Anything goes!
And by cabinets, I mean anything that’s too tall for a table lamp. It could be built in or a free-standing piece of furniture. And it can be in any room, but the primary focus will be the kitchen cabinets that don’t go up to the ceiling.
Let’s begin with that because that’s where a lot of us get hung up.
We move into a home. We’re not crazy about the kitchen, but it’s not in the cards to redo it for a while because we are mortgaged up the arse.
But, there’s one foot (or more) of dead space between the top of the cabinet and ceiling and oh, wouldn’t it be pretty to decorate it? It’s just begging to be decorated, isn’t it?
But here’s the problem.
It shouldn’t be there in the first place.
Of course, that’s not an absolute rule. But long runs of cabinets are not a good idea in the first place.
Please let me rephrase that.
You are not to have a long uninterrupted run of upper cabinets— anywhere in your kitchen.
Do you hear me?
They need to be abolished from the kingdom!
We have discussed this numerous times. Nobody needs to have 30 feet of counter space in their kitchen, that has cabinets going overhead. If you are lucky enough to have this space, then some of the cabinets should be floor-to-ceiling. It looks so much better.
But I know, you’re not planning on changing anything, just yet.
Of course, one choice is to fill in the space with some sheet rock. That usually looks a lot better. There are zillions of tutorials out there on how to do that. And we’ve discussed it here, too.
Another thing that I think helps immensely is to take the doors off, or at least some of them if the design can manage that. Yes, I know, I know— the dust. But having the shelf in a cabinet at least has a roof over it. :]
And I guarantee that it’s going to give your kitchen an automatic, lighter more stylish look.
Next we will look at what not to do when it comes to decorating above cabinets.
Oh, you knew it was coming and I’m sure that I won’t disappoint, unless one of these is your room and then I’m going to need to hire a body-guard.
Please hang on…
Talk about your dust catchers!
This is where they stashed all of the horrid wedding gifts they didn’t know what else to do with.
But what’s with the dead leaves?
The plastic jungle on top of the cabinets.
Oh, they might be real. But they are really too much! And here’s what’s the biggest problem with this kitchen. If one is going to do dark cabinets, then there needs to be a dark, hunky color on the wall.(although, the cabinet color is way too red!)
That’s right. And NO, you cannot lighten it up because then you are going to have this massive chunk of dark cabinetry and fine, if you like it. I think it looks awful–disconnected from the rest of the room.
You have to go with what’s there and that is one of the biggest mistakes that I have seen over and over.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t have any light elements.
You MUST have some light elements. but that could be some wonderful brown and white transfer-ware, large handsome globe pendants over the island, not those puny, wimped out lights over the island.
Twin Octopus ivy is threatening to jump off and attack that thing covering the coffee table.
So weird. And that cabinet is way too big for that wall.
I found this on pinterest. These people are delusional. This is NOT paradise. Someone said that they love the window above the cabinets.
Blimey! It is not ABOVE the cabinets. It is behind the cabinets. There is no such thing as a little sliver of window like that. That makes no sense!
Dude is overseeing the cook. And/or he’s taking a shower in there! haha!
Sorry, no. I don’t love. I would at least like if there was maybe only 1/4 of what’s up there.
The painting is nice.
Is that a real bird making a nest? Could be.
No cutesy, hackneyed sayings. please.
Please. What kind of message are you sending to your children?
But praying IS a good idea.
And what is with the ubiquitous
Like, we need a reminder? HA!
Probably most of us need a sign that says:
DON’T EAT. (or else…)
These EATSIGNS are EVERYWHERE!
i don’t get it.
I bet that you knew that was coming too.
Have to say that I do like this one though. Cool retro kitchen!
Okay, enough of what NOT to do.
Here’s what I think works best.
- Whatever is above the cabinets needs to relate to what’s below it.
- The decor needs to relate to the style of the room.
- And it all needs to integrate with the wall and cabinet color.
- Group like with like
- when in doubt, do less
Did anyone every say, “There aren’t enough tchatches above your cabinet?”
Here are some examples of beautiful decorating above cabinets and why they work.
It’s a tiny kitchen and the cabinets are small. By using a tone on tone scheme, the owner gets to display her pretty things and fill in the way too large space. Yes, taller cabinets would’ve been nice, but sometimes you needs to works with whats you haves.
Some might think this one a little too much, but I think it’s quite handsome. What pulls it together I believe is the pin-stripe wallpaper.
Ironstone. Oh man, I love this stuff! Do you like ironstone?
Well if you do, I have a treat for you in a bit. (no fair peeking ahead).
But, this tone on tone is so yummy to me.
Dan Carithers via Cote De Texas charming, charming kitchen with ironstone and transferware.
That’s coming up too.
Beautifully styled, sophisticated, rustic, country, urbane kitchen. I don’t know.
What would you call this style?
See how the collection seems to grow out of the cabinet?
An image I posted years ago but don’t know the original source.
Love the colors and collection of analogous greens on the top shelf.
Classic French Country.
More classic French Country. I love what’s on top because it relates so beautifully to the wall, while lifting the eye up and balancing it all perfectly.
One just can’t have too many blue and white Chinoiserie porcelains.
Those, you can layer on to your heart’s content.
I love brown and white and the simple baskets atop help round out the room and give it a more casual feel. This is what I meant about how to lighten up a dark cabinet.
Oh, why is this room allowed to be white? It’s because it is just one cabinet and the doors are glass with the pretty white china inside.
Love both of their work! Pretty new-traditional living room with a pine armoire and blue and white chinoiserie porcelains. I do believe they work anywhere!
And how about this fun china cabinet in red lacquer. Love this vignette by Katie Luepke. She’s not a designer but her home was in a house tour. To see the rest, click here.
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of what we can put on top of our cabinets, but it’s a good start.
And now for your surprise.
I put together three groupings of beautiful collectibles; most of them can go on top of cabinets. A few are better suited to the counters. If you happen to be interested in any of them, please check and then double-check the sizes. Many of these are one-of-a kind and from several different sources.
Hope that you like looking. It’s a lot of fun for me to put them together. Just click on the images if you are interested in sources and you can also share on social media if so inclined.
The first is obviously all blue and white. Again, please check sizes.
Ironstone with a smattering of Creamware and Milk Glass.
Baskets of all kinds and some chic kitchen canisters
Do you have a favorite way of decorating over cabinets? Or maybe it’s never come up before.