The Tricks You Need To Know For Decorating Above Cabinets

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.



Maybe something more like these that we were looking at from Rejuvenation recently.


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.

Quel mess!

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…)

And yet…


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.


via One King’s Lane

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.


Craig Schumacher photo: Nathan Schroder

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.

Virginia Tupker via Elle Decor – photo  Mikkel Vang

Classic French Country.

photo Tim Beddow

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.

Richard McGeehan

One just can’t have too many blue and white Chinoiserie porcelains.

Those, you can layer on to your heart’s content.


Country Living

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.

Holly Mathis designer and from the photography/styling site of Becky Griffin

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!


decorating above cabinets - Katie Luepke with a red lacquer china cabinet and Chinoiserie porcelains on top.

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



ironstone and browns transferware for decorating over cabinets and in them.


Do you have a favorite way of decorating over cabinets? Or maybe it’s never come up before.


PS: If so inclined, there is a new page about hot sales in the home furnishings marketplace.
I plan to update it about once a week.

108 Responses

  1. You are so funny, Laurel, I laugh out loud for the way you point out the ridiculous. Someone’s got to say these things! May you live forever!

  2. I just loved this post Laurel, and thanks for the laughs.
    So what I’m seeing is if we’re going to put something on the top of our cabinets or armoires, or behind a glass door on a cabinet or hutch, those things should be basically all one color. It looks meaningful, quiet, not busy.
    Laurel, do you have any idea what that beautiful creamy blue is on the walls in the Richard McGeehan photo?

    1. Hi Kim,

      Yes, a unified color scheme is better. Or at least a unification of objects.

      I don’t know the wall color. I am seeing it as a blue-green gray. Benjamin Moore Woodlawn Blue is pretty.

  3. Laurel…I nearly did a spit-take when I saw your “BARF” where there was EAT in the previous photo. Hysterical!!

    I see homeowners over-using stuff above their cabinetry all the time when they are selling their homes. I’ve been in realtors’ homes too when they are selling – same thing. They also wonder why I tell them to get rid of “A Crab Lives Here” artwork too!

    I haven’t put anything above my kitchen cabinetry – mainly because there’s only 3-4 inches above them! That wouldn’t stop some of my clients though. I am going to link this article on my Facebook site – it’s so important for home sellers (and owners) to read!!

    I have a few other cabinetry areas that I’d like to put some things upon…so I am going to give it a whirl. On one of my tall darker cabinets (that did need something!!), I placed a lot of dried hydrangeas lining the perimeter. It looks really lovely…but mainly because the wall is a pale pinkish hue and it blends in so beautifully.

    Thanks for your humor…I needed it today…and your great advice!!


    1. Hi Linda,

      Glad to help the day be cheerier. I forgot to mention that if there’s less than a foot, it really will not look good to have anything up there, which you pointed out.

  4. I just removed ‘things’ from the tops of my cabinets in order to paint and will not be putting anything back.


    Two words – GREASY DUST.

  5. Oh Laurel, you are so funny! Had a real laugh reading this post.

    My kitchen cabinets are about a foot below the 10′ ceiling and have a moulding at the top. I didn’t see any examples of that type of kitchen cupboard. I have nothing on top of my cabinets.

    When I first moved here (about a year ago) it really bugged me that the cabinets didn’t go to the ceiling, however, I’m getting used to them…kinda.

    Thanks Laurel. Though I don’t comment often I really enjoy your posts.

  6. Why do we always feel the need to fill every last nook and cranny with stuff? I think one reason why so many love the home of You Tuber “How Jen Does It” is because her home looks so clean and uncluttered.

    1. Hi Again Trulaine,

      I don’t have the answer to that, although I suspect it’s a rhetorical question. I guess some folks like having a lot of stuff around them and some really do not.

  7. I LOVE reading your blog and I finally picked a paint color for most of our downstairs, Revere Pewter. Love it! Painted all our ceilings and trim SW extra white. So nice and clean looking! We used SW “Creamy” in our front entryway/hall. So so pretty! After all this updating, I removed all the crap/junk above my kitchen cabinets (it was really an acceptable amount of nice things). I decided to keep my clean look by putting NOTHING above the kitchen cabinets! Looks so much better! Maybe one day I’ll change cabinets and have them go all the way up! All that stuff up there just gets gross anyway!

  8. Arrghh, for 5 years my upper cabinets had a random collection of dust collectors…until last night when I climbed up on the counter and took every last bit of that stuff down!! And the real kicker is that an interior designer curated and arranged it for me! I never liked the look but thought “hey, what do I know. about interior design.” Thanks Laurel, now I love my uncluttered look.

  9. In the house we’re building I ran the cabinets all the way to the ceiling so I wouldn’t have to deal with this. However, we had to have the dreaded “plant ledge” above our front door in order to protect visitors from Texas weather: hail from hell/hot as hell. My thought would be to put one large statement piece up there, like an antique carousel horse. My husband, who normally has good taste, thinks we should put a collection of old suitcases & trunks up there (I deserve an award for not puking in front of him). It’s a pretty big area – do you think I can just ignore it?

  10. Oh my goodness Laurel….
    I have been reading your blog for a LONG time and I have to tell you that the BARF image literally had me belly laughing and I made everyone in my family come to my computer and read your whole blog to get the humor in that one particular image. Your wicked sense of humor has kept me coming back and back (along with your expertise in interior design as well!!!)…minor detail of course. Back in the Pinterest heyday, I was a power pinner with 5,000,000 followers and pinned your images without even knowing about that wicked humor. I have turned your Essential Paint Color Collection into a binder and have just about slept with it. We are building our dream house as hubby is nearing retirement and I have memorized that Collection almost to the copyright text. LOL. I have decided to go Cotton Balls all the way in the whole house, using Lookout Point here and there with bits of black to accompany all of it. I am starting to second guess myself about all white but I love the look and I love cotton balls. Thanks for making us smile each day and for offering the wisest, most intelligent, delightful advice for our homes.

    1. Hi Kathy,

      What a darling comment! Thank you so much!

      And by pinterest heyday, you mean the origins of pinterest when they took a couple dozen or so people and gave each millions of followers.

      I have read about that. One time, one of you pinned from my top post about white paint and my traffic was so crazy that the site kept crashing all day long. That was two years ago. But that one event propelled my blog along at a faster pace.

      Cotton Balls is a very pretty white. I’ve done it numerous times and it looks good in all lights. At least that has been my experience.

  11. Spot on !
    I will comment though, I do have a small grouping of black and white photos of my kiddos (as babies) eating their first messy meal and my H and I sharing our wedding cake under a small saying “Enjoy Life, It’s Delicious” Don’t judge! Oh well go and judge I still love it and it makes me smile. But I hate stuff on top of cabinets unless it is clearly there for a purpose. No plastic plants for me!

    1. Hi Merri,

      I’ve been through the word “judge” earlier. I guess people mean “don’t criticize.” “don’t make me feel badly.” I would never do that for something that you or anyone loves and is sentimental. I think that’s beautiful! And that’s a judgment too!

  12. I broke out into a cold sweat when I read about the dark cabinets with light walls and the disconnect it creates…yikes! My new home has cherry cabinets and light gray walls, white tile floors and countertop, glass brown/gray/white tile backsplash. What “dark, hunky color” on the walls would you suggest? And if I were to start a “collection” for above the cabinets, what would it be? Thanks so much, Laurel!

    1. Hi Debbie,

      I wish I could help you with your individual decorating needs but I would need to be standing there. It’s impossible to just throw out what colors would look good because I don’t know what else is going on in the other rooms, what style your home is and 100 other things. I hope that makes sense.

      And it might be that your kitchen doesn’t need a darker wall. Light gray looks very pretty with cherry. And white can work too if there’s other white and brown and white.

      No cold sweats please. :]

  13. Great post. I used to have cabinets with “the space” at the top. I used blue and white transferware well as English brass pans. Cleaning up there was a challenge and it always looked a little too “decorated” . Now my cabinets go to the ceiling and I love it!
    The “DO” pictures you choose are some I have pinned and love. I collect both ironstone and transferware. They always seem to work.
    Thanks for reminding us what works!

  14. Your blog is great. The comment about the ivy octopuses jumping down to attack was hilarious.

    I am curious about what you think the best way to have a soffit built above cabinets is. It seems some people have it made with wood and paint it the same color as the cabinets and other people have it made with drywall.

    1. Hi CM,

      The drywall still needs a wood support behind it. But one could put faux doors or panel moulding in front to look like a cabinet above. Or, one could actually add a little cabinet. Either way is fine.

  15. Hi Laurel, thank you for another timely and informative post. I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog on Sunday, always so interesting and thought provoking.

    We recently bought a “new to us” home and immediately made some minor renovations in the kitchen. We painted the cabinets and replaced all the hardware. The upper cabinets were very close to the countertop, only 12″! so we raised them up about 6 inches. The ceiling has exposed beams so we couldn’t go all the way up, but the ceiling feels higher now. No room for collections of any kind on top, and I don’t have to worry about the toast popping up and hitting the bottom of the cabinets. We expect this kitchen will help us plan its awesome replacement, a little down the road.

    I laughed when I saw the octopus ivy, it reminded me of the silk ivy garland (complete with a string of clear mini-lights) above my oak cabinets c.1990. Oh the shame! At the time I thought I was all that and a bag of chips, lol 😀

    I have a somewhat cabinet related problem that you may have already covered in a previous post. I’m wondering what to do with our china cabinet in this new house because there is no dining room. What we do have is a dining area in the kitchen, separated by a peninsula, thankfully no cabinets hanging above. The only wall is far too narrow for our china cabinet 🙁 I’m thinking about putting it in the adjoining living room. Or would that just be weird?

    Do you think china cabinets can be moved into other rooms to house collections, books and/or other items? I just don’t know if it will look silly, like the china cabinet has been banished to another room : / I wonder if there’s some way to help it look at home in the living room? I could paint it…

    (BTW, I had great success with Glad Press and Seal affixed to the tops of my old cabinets. It will have to be pretty darned clean to begin with, and completely dry. Live and learn. The next time you want to remove the gunk you won’t need to scrub it, just peel off and toss the sticky wrap, and apply new)

    Looking forward to next Sunday’s post, have a good week!

    1. Hi Michele,

      I have put china cabinets in dining rooms a number of times. Often, there is no room for them in the dining room. But when you think bout it. A china cabinet is also a bookcase with glass doors.

  16. I never liked chinoiserie until you! Guess I just don’t like old, dirty, dusty, CHIPPED kitchen ware! I did like one that was sorta sea foam green, on Etsy one of my favs, but it was chipped and I can’t do it. Just had a kitchen fire and got an entire new design which I did myself. I have an 11′ wide 8′ tall wall with cabs up to 7′. I now have a little of this above cab area you speak of and I do see the humor in your posts. None for me; I need clean and modern. I wish I knew how to post a pic-I’m keep trying to show you because you’ve been a major influence in no uppers!

    1. Hi Valerie,

      If you’re a subscriber, you get an email from me when I post. If you respond to that post, it goes to my email.

      Too funny, doing research today, found myself sucked into a famous English designer’s instagram feed. Well… he posted a couple of kitchens that most Americans would have condemned! hahaha – but the comments from his followers were things like “perfection” “heaven” etc. very interesting!

  17. Hilarious! I thoroughly enjoyed this post. And seriously, what is up with EAT? EAT needs to be deemed illegal from here on out. “Keep Calm and EAT” (wouldn’t be surprised to see that sign somewhere too). Hahaha!

  18. I agree with all your views save one: namely, that Buddha (?) looking down. I think it’s kinda cool!

  19. This has to be one of the funniest posts you’ve written in a long time — I mean those were some easy targets and you went for it (well-deserved IMO)! I appreciate that you come out so strongly against upper kitchen cabinets that end short of the ceiling, because no, no and more NO! — Barb

    1. Hi Barb,

      I need to do a follow-up post because there are situations that make it a necessity for them not to go all the way up, like an 18 foot vaulted ceiling.

  20. All those kitchen photos are so bad they’re almost funny…I’ve seen a million of them…half of America has kitchens like this! Ahhhhrrrrghhhh! 🙁 I know it’s a matter of taste…and I don’t mean to judge. I guess we can partially blame the builders/developers who do these houses. You KNOW there wasn’t a designer or an architect within ten miles of these homes. Oh well, I’ll stop myself before I say something I might regret. 🙂
    Laurel, I get excited overtime your email/blog arrives in my inbox! You’re the best!

    1. Hi Amy,

      Thanks so much!

      It’s okay. I think it’s vital to judge!

      And here’s why.

      Don’t we make judgments all the time? Should I eat? Wait. There’s no eat sign, therefore I won’t eat. ;]

      We decide if we should wear a coat or a sweater or no just a t-shirt.

      Even with people. Of course we are constantly judging. Should I leave my six month old with this woman for 3 hours? No, I smell alcohol on her breath. I am not leaving my six month-old with her.

      I believe that judgments are necessary for our very survival.

      No, not in the case of cabinets. But maybe that’s the difference. It’s a non-essential judgment and perhaps that’s why it’s deemed to be bad. Or maybe it’s just been drilled into our heads.

      Don’t judge.

  21. First I just want to say that my mother gave me a kitchen sign from Cracker Barrel that said Eat and Get Gas. 😕 No. no.

    My cabinets are up to the top now but in the past I put nothing or stuff I liked but did not use often but was pretty. Then I realized how grimy it would get. That’s when I switched to nothing.

  22. Another wonderful and all too true post. The proliferation of stuff above cabs is one of my pet peeves but I do like most of the good examples you posted. Don’t even get me started on the ubiquitous signs. I know they are ubiquitous because sly Hubs pretend asked for a s**t sign for the bathroom….and he rarely notices anything.

  23. Hey Laurel! I began reading your post and immediately started sweating. OMG, OMG ..that’s me with “stuff” above my cabinets. Then I read further down about the blue and white porcelain. OMG, OMG…THAT’s me. Whew, because there is no budget to enclose that space. But I do love my blue and white collection up there.

    As for your very nasty 2AM commenter…my very smart PhD husband always says about people like that, “f*#k ’em if they can’t take a joke”! Personally, I l❤️V every word you write!! Have an awesome week.

  24. Hi Laurel! We could be twins, because I agree with everything you say. You are a hoot, and I love reading your blog. It is funny and informative all at the same time…..where else do you get all that?
    At first I didn’t get the “dude overseeing the cook….or taking a shower” quip, but then I saw the head. Ha! You are quite clever 🙂 But I did notice the apple bowl on the table??? The ones sticking out of the bowl look like green boobs to me. Thank you for sharing you with all of us.

    1. Hi Holly,

      I have a sister named Holly! I think that she reads my blog sometimes but doesn’t comment publicly. And she’s a REAL writer and very talented!

      That fruit bowl is seriously weird. But maybe it’s so that the air can get to the bottom of the apple? A wire basket would be so much nicer, I think.

      1. I agree. At first I thought it was some weird bowl from like..the MOMA catalogue, It looks fiddley and like it would damage the fruit. Do not like.

  25. You are so right about those “eat” or “dine” signs. They were only sort of cute when I first saw them IN 1971!

    I, too, love ironstone and transfer ware and tarnished silver. Still, I am sensing a constricting of style choices in American popular design. (I don’t mean you😌) The turquoise beauty of majolica, the whimsy of Quimper, the serenity of yellow ware, the colorful ‘Americanness’ of the old Fiestaware all seem to be replaced with fake white stoneware from big box retailers. And it seems that home furnishing choices must meet the narrow standard of catalog living, unless one has a huge budget.

    I do appreciate the emphasis on simplicity in design that is prevalent, but it seems like THERE IS SO MUCH SAMENESS out there.

    Thanks for letting me rant –you are absolutely me fave!

    1. Hi Kathleen,

      Rant away!

      You’re right. There is a lot of sameness, but even with that, a lot of the stuff I post would be seen as avant garde in many places.

  26. LOVED this post and this has been a pet peeve of mine for years. I do have a space above my cabinets in a brand new home, and it is empty and will stay empty. That is my answer to the space, ignore it and don’t take they eye up there at all. You had some great examples of the Don’ts and Do’s. I did snicker at some of the Don’ts I have seen so much of that look and I just want to grab a ladder and pull things down. You are so good at not mincing words, love your direct, honest approach to writing. Fun and informative!

    1. Thanks so much Kathysue. I have a space above mine now too. I just realized that, but it is a nine foot ceiling and the doors are pretty tall and I have no intention of climbing up there, anyway. Although it really should be cleaned. That is another story. Oh, I tried once. IMPOSSIBLE.

      You’d need a power washer. LOL

  27. Laurel I love your blog and your comments about blue and white porcelain and I love it….but I generally do not use blue or white in my decorating; more of a warm color preference….question…..if you display your blue and white does the room have to be blue and or white or have blue or white in it? Maybe the question should be Is blue and white a universal design element and it does not matter if it doesn’t have any other blue and white near it?
    Thanks for all you do for the design world…I think you are quite fascinating in your writing and design.

    1. Hi Susan,

      Well, that would be a great blog topic. I am going to add it to the list just now.

      But in the meantime, the short answer is that in all of my writings and then developing my curated paint collection, I realized some time in the last couple of years that dark blue (and white) is indeed a universal color. So, the short answer is no, you do not need to have other blue in the room, but you do need to have other white. All rooms benefit if not downright need some white and some black.

      The irony is that while I ADORE the stuff, I have not one lick of it. NOTHING. Not even a blue and white bud vase.

      Why? Well, in my old life, no money and I mean NO MONEY and no, no room. But… that is also a part of what’s behind the new kitchen design.

      Big beautiful glass cabinets.

      Are you catching on?

  28. Dear Laurel,

    You newest contribution made me laugh so loud that my husband asked me what I was reading.
    I did not have time to read your blog for a while. I closed my design business in Silicon Valley, sold our freshly remodeled home and moved to Tahoe last Sunday.
    Transition is fraught with emotions. So
    thank you for so much laughter.

    You are the best and most entertaining design blogger in my books😘

    1. Hi Magdalena,

      Thank you so much for such a sweet comment. This is not the first time, I’ve heard the husband wants to know what’s so funny? That’s the best compliment ever because without laughter life can be pretty freaking difficult.

      That’s a big move that you made, but it’s also a fresh start. Here’s wishing you all the best in your new endeavors!

  29. Laurel, this is a great post you have put together here and it probably took some time to do. I love and get something out of each post that you give us. Your blog is my favorite and I do read lots of decorating blogs. I love your style of writing and it feels as though you are next door or just across the street. You are honest and and funny also. I am trying to be more restrained with accessories, but sometimes it is hard. Something in the mind says I paid for this and liked it at the time and I should use it somewhere. I need to part with lots of items that I don’t have room for as I don’t have a garage or attic drop down. It is so hard to part with so much that have sentimental aspects. Thank you for your dedication and sharing so many money saving tips. You are loved by many!

    Judy E

    1. Thanks so much Judy,

      Your words are appreciated immensely. I gather that you are maybe reading between the lines to know that I had a 2:00 AM nasty comment from a reader (a decorator too!)

      Fortunately, it’s not very often, but it usually happens when I’m REALLY tired and is usually the very first comment I get. (although, occasionally I’ll get a troll on an old post)

      The reality is that 99.999% of you are so, so sweet and kind, but it’s like eating a delicious pie, only there’s one bite that’s gone all moldy and it taints the rest of it.

      This type of comment is rare, and it does not mean that I can’t handle a difference of opinion. This one crossed well over a very thick line into a mocking personal attack.

      So, after only sleeping for two hours, I decided that I needed to delete the comment and ban her from the site and that is what I did.

      It is also my impulse to contact her and giver her a piece of my mind, but experience has taught me that these types never understand that they have the power to hurt, nor do they understand WHY their words are hurtful in the first place. And they are quite adept at turning it around that they are the injured party because of them being called to the mat.

      I didn’t make up this word, but the common vernacular is mindf***k.

      Sure, I wish I could just brush it off, but every time it happens it feels like being punched in the gut.

      I love this blog and spend a loving hefty number of hours producing these posts. It is as close to a dream job as one can get. And I do my best to make each one something that hopefully one can learn from and maybe be entertained by at the same time. Of course, I can’t please everyone. That is impossible.

      But there is still a part of me that when this happens wonders if I DO suck???

      That is not a ploy to get praise. I don’t need that either. It’s most welcome, for sure, but that’s not why I’m here.

      Oh well, thanks for listening if you come back or for whoever is reading this.

      It helps to get it out because then I can let it go.


      I am wondering if for some of those cherished items, that you have, if there are family members who might want some of them? That way maybe it won’t feel like you’re cutting off an arm, just giving a pint of blood?

      1. Hi Laurel
        I’m so sorry to hear that someone out there needed to leave a destructive and hurtful comment. In my opinion this says a lot about this person.
        I love your post. And just to shorten this comment, let me say I wholeheartedly agree with what Judy English and so many more of your followers say and how much we enjoy reading it.
        Not only do you teach us all immensely valuable lessons in interior design, but you are able to convey them in such an enjoyable, humorous way. That is a Talent that’s rare. I haven’t found another interior design blogger who does it as skillfully as you and it makes these lessons stick.
        And, hoping to not overstep boundaries, I have to say I just recently read your bio on your website. And I thought, look at her, what a courageous, colorful interesting life she lived so far.
        Please don’t let destructive people undermine you (sometimes easier said than done). I know you value invigorating and fruitful discussions of different opinion, ideas and suggestions, I see it on your blog. And thank you for the great work you keep doing

        1. Hi Gabriele,

          Thanks so much for your sweet, supportive message.

          You’re about a million miles from over-stepping boundaries. My bio doesn’t even cover the half of it, but I find that these unsavory topics make a lot of people uncomfortable and that’s understandable.

          But then sometimes I hear what other people have gone through and it makes my life seem like a trip to the candy store.

      2. Laurel, good morning. Before commenting yesterday, I did see that you posted that you had a commenter who had been very ugly and disrespectful in their comment and that you had deleted and blocked her. I did not see her comment.. I totally believe you made the right decision. I don’t like ugly words, but constructive words I can accept. I would have said the same words of praise about your blog even if I had not read your comment about the situation. I remember reading some years ago, anonymous horrible,dreadful comments on Cote de Texas blog. They were unmerciful to her and I could not fathom how people could be this way.i think she had to do the same as you.I believe you nipped it in the bud and continue to be true to your beliefs.

        I have a couple questions as we might be remodeling our kitchen also, and I loved your plans for your redo of your kitchen.
        The first question is , will the Shaker Cabinets be considered classic and not be out of style in five or so years? Also I am leaning against the farmhouse sink as most all people are using them, and is it a fad?

        The second question is, where do I start? It is so mind boggling. I tend to be a perfectionist. I want things done the right way. I want white cabinets and brass cabinet pulls. I first wanted unlaquered but at my age of seventy-four I could not keep them shiny, and I read that unlaquered brass can be toxic. I don’t want the cheapest cabinets, but also don’t want the most expensive. We are seniors and don’t want to spend a large chunk of our savings.

        Getting back to my problem with the sentimentality of items I have that I don’t have room to store. A lot of the items belonged to our mother who passed this August, will be two years ago. Our children have already come and got what they wanted, and gratefully so. Mom had dementia also. I understand what it is like.
        Thanks again and you take care.
        Judy E

        1. Hi Judy,

          Thanks so much for your support. I very much appreciate that. It is all but forgotten today.

          As for your kitchen, I cannot predict with 100% certainty if something will be classic or not. Shaker doors have been around for a very long time. There, I think that you’re good.

          With the farmhouse sink, it very much depends on the kitchen. It is not a mistake to not have one, but I would definitely do an under mount sink.

          What I would do, if you have not done so already, is go on houzz and go hunting for your perfect kitchen. Keep a board of all of your inspiration kitchens. Soon, you will see the patterns. It is unlikely to all be in one kitchen.

          In any case, you will need a kitchen designer. It might just be the person at the cabinet place. After all, someone has to come and measure and do shop drawings.

          But don’t let them strong-arm you. If there’s something you want, explain it to them. If it’s not possible, they will tell you why. I say this because some kitchen places get into their same-old, same-old and don’t deviate from it, unless told to do so.

          Hope that helps!

  30. Hi Laurel,
    I love your blogs and decorating style, and all of the wonderful tips you give! I’m not very good with computers, and I thought I just sent you a big long comment, but maybe not?? Haha! I’ll try this again, now… anyway, I loved the ” over the kitchen cabinets”- I could have given you the tackiest one- mine!! It’s all coming down- NOW! Oh my goodness do I need help – I’ve just inherited half of my mothers household, and on that note I’m going to retrieve the rest of her blue and white chinoiserie!! I have so many items , furniture, silver, crystal etc. to squeeze into my small house. I’ve already sold so much of it, because I have no room! A terrible position to be in, I know, but my home ( I downsized 14 years ago) currently doesn’t lend itself to a lot of her beautiful antiques. However, I’m doing what I can to accommodate- new wood flooring in LR, DR, and hallway. I am taking her dining table (Karges) and chairs ( chippendale- painted a Chinese red). I am determined to have at least one beautiful room! However, small it is! Next step is to find an updated chandelier to use in there . Currently it is a 1990s brass one. I just wanted to thank you for all the wonderful advice you give in your blogs and pictures you post!!!! – Robin

    1. ROBIN!!!

      For anyone reading this blog, Robin is a child-hood friend from my formative years in Evansville, IN. My mom and I moved away when I was 15 and then those ties were severed unfortunately. But not forever!

      Robin’s mother was the most beautiful woman ever– She could’ve been Jackie Kennedy’s sister. And Robin, I gather that she passed away? I’m so sorry for your loss.

      BTW, my mom is still with us, but at 94, her dementia is quite pronounced. She’s in a lovely assisted living home in Meqon, WI.

      But I always say that everything I learned was from your mom. She had the most elegant timeless taste and it definitely rubbed off on me. I just remember that I wished that our home looked like that.

      It’s so fabulous to hear from you! {{{big hugs}}}

  31. Hi Laurel,

    What is your opinion of upper cabinets, unattached on both sides, “supported” by brackets, and not extending to the ceiling? The idea is that it would kind of look like furniture. Asking for a friend who is re-doing her kitchen. Ok it’s me, and all the other upper cabinets would extend to the ceiling. I think I just answered my own question. 🙂

    And I have to point this out too – have you noticed that deVol’s upper cabinets are never shown all the way to the ceiling? I think maybe they get a pass.


    1. Alexa,

      You mean like a hutch without a base? But it sounds like you figured it out.

      And yes, you are so right. Their cabinets usually do not hit the ceiling.

      But… in those cases, it is usually one or two cabinets. I don’t recall seeing a very long run of cabinets without it being interrupted with something.

      But, I have never seen them put anything on top of the cabinets. That one gorgeous green kitchen has a shelf with artwork, but the shelf runs lower than the top of the cabinets. It is over the range area.

  32. “we are mortgaged up the arse” – It’s like you know me!
    Thanks for this, we are moving into a new house in a week and it has a lovely kitchen, but the cabinets don’t go to the ceiling. I’m not a tchotchke person and have been dreading what to do other than leaving it all empty up there. Love you blog!

    1. Hi Stephanie,

      Well, it sounds funnier than “house poor,” the more common vernacular, but it’s also exceedingly common. Oh man, we were!

      It was horrible and I was so naive that I had no idea how much it really cost to live as a home-owner. That was 26 years ago.

      Since you are moving into an already lovely kitchen, I would just close up the area with sheet-rock. I mean, have a contractor do it. It’s not a big deal and then you can add a crown moulding, perhaps. That will also serve to raise the ceiling. It will look so much more finished.

      Maybe I need to do a part II and also discuss what to do it the ceiling is REALLY high.

      Sometimes I feel like I could go on and on and then I have to remind myself that it is NOT an entire book. It’s just one blog post! Not even an entire chapter. Just one section, in one chapter.

  33. Best blog post ever!!!!! And thank you for setting me straight regarding my past kitchen decorating sins.

    1. Hi Joni,

      That is so sweet! And greatly appreciated! I think a lot of us, myself included in some areas of our lives, do stuff without even thinking clearly why.

      When it comes to furnishing our homes, my aim is only to get folks to think about the possibilities and then figure out what is best for them. It’s not a one-size fits all!

  34. Hi Laurel- Do you have ESP? You are kind of creeping me out with your uncanny ability to post on topics exactly when I’m struggling with the same issue. White paint colors? Check. Kitchen reno? Check. Space above cabinets – ugh! I so wanted to take our new, being built this minute cabinets all the way up, but for the darn cathedral ceiling! (I know – problems, problems. ) The previous owner had squat, honey oak cabinets with cascading plastic ivy on top. New ones will at least be taller and white. Any other suggestions for sloped ceilings? Love your blog and hope you get the Blue Star!

    1. Hi Sue,

      I wrote a few comments down the answer to this. It’s a common issue and one I forgot to address. But that’s what the comments are for.

      Well, blimey. I am operating on two hours of sleep which is not a good thing. I don’t know where the comment is now. But if you look at the DeVOL website, you’ll see lots of examples of cabinets that don’t go up the ceiling and cathedral ceilings as well.

      And there are some examples on this post too.

  35. I’ve read on another designer’s blog that if you have a soffit above your cabinets that you should put thin molding up between the cabinets & soffit. Then add crown molding along the ceiling/above the soffit. To finish it off, paint the soffit & molding the same color as the upper cabinets. It gives the illusion of higher cabinets.
    So for those of us that don’t have the soffit, it’s a easy way to update a kitchen.

    Your comments about the signs crack me up. Please make them go away.
    I have a girlfriend that thinks they’re “cute”. I just want to shake her!!!!

    1. Hi Mary,

      Yes, there are a lot of blogs and tutorials (you can find them on pinterest) that show how to fill in the area if there is no soffit.

      Sometimes, I wish that they’d add a panel moulding because if the height is more than one foot it looks disproportionate to have a short door and then more than half its length of blank wall. Painted the same color does help. Not sure if that’s clear from my explanation.

  36. The photo with the greenware and the two dogs I think was just in the March issue of a certain magazine. I too am not a fan of signs with “cutesy” sayings. In my condo there are inexpensive kitchen cabinets which I have to live with for now (did not win the Powerball), and yes, they do not go all the way to the ceiling. I have my collection of vintage mixing bowls (mostly cream and green) on display up there. Makes the kitchen look more homey. Can always take them down and wash them out periodically, and sweep the spider webs down from the ceiling line. Saw in a photo recently that Ina Garten has a collection of white cakestands. I love collections, as long as they don’t get out of hand.

    1. Hi Susie,

      It’s not a new photo. I posted it years ago. But sometimes magazines post old images.

      I agree about the hominess– especially for smaller kitchens. My old kitchen cabinets were melamine and I had the contractor put up picture frame moulding and then he sprayed they a creamy white. They looked wonderful!

  37. I have been reading your blog for many months and I usually save it until last because it is so entertaining! (AND as as your followers know, you are most generous and educational sharing real design knowledge)

    This post made me laugh out loud on this dreary GA morning. You have that knack of writing what we are all thinking but don’t say out loud. Thank you for the best design blog out there!

    1. Thanks so much Regine! Much appreciated! Sorry for the dreary weather. We have sure had our share of it in the northeast, but it was gorgeous and sunny yesterday and is again today, but they are saying that it’s going to heat up and the air-quality won’t be so great.

  38. One thing I noticed in your sample photos is that the items that work visually also are the things that actually might be grabbed and used for serving a few times a year. Thanks for another great and very funny post!

    1. Yes indeed! One thing I wanted to mention about the way that the platters are displayed vertically is to be very careful. I did that once in my kitchen, only one day, the platter came crashing down and broke my pretty tea set. :[

  39. The last time I ‘looked’ at one of your curated offerings, I wound up with the WS ‘Southampton chair! It’s now in my sunroom and I love it, so thank you for the wonderful ‘hint’:-)
    I have a collection of big French copper pots over my natural cherry cabinets, and they look super, and they replaced the antique ironstone collection that is now languishing in the basement, so I am happy to see what you’ll have me do with them next. I wished my kids would want some of my old beauties..
    If you ever do a post on natural wood toned kitchens, could emphasize paint colors that would look wonderful with that type of cabinet? I don’t want to paint my cabinets, but I realize now that my ‘Cotton Balls’ walls are too light. I came to that conclusion after my design savy sister asked what color I’d be painting the walls 🙂

    1. Hi Dolores,

      As I recall, your cabinets are very pretty. And sometimes white walls can work, but I think there would need to be white tile and maybe white counters and lots of glass with white inside. And then some brown and white drapes. Like maybe a brown and white toile.

      I love the copper. Did you see @faithmd (Jennifer’s) kitchen on instagram? She has copper for days and it’s stunning! There is a post I did about some colors that look good with wood. Of course, there are many, many more. Actually, red can look great with wood. A warm red.

      1. OMGosh!!I love her kitchen, as well as all of her stunning photos, I’m now a follower. Thank you!
        Last year,I sprung for soapstone counters, but since I also have a wonderful Wolf range with red knobs, I used that red as accents, along with more blue and white on the walls than you would ever think is normal.:-)
        I love the Hollis Matthew design- and that wonderful wall color too.I think I know where I went wrong!
        I’ll ask my sister to help with a new wall color as she’s got an amazing , intuitive sense of color.
        Did I tell you lately how much I appreciate your wonderful,(and warm hearted) blog??

        1. Hi Dolores,

          I knew that you would enjoy Jennifer’s kitchen. And you don’t have to say anything; it comes oozing out of every sweet word that you write! xoxo

  40. Ha! I DIED over the “Eat” signs.

    I have the same problem — row of uppers that don’t go to the top, a reno still a couple of years away. My mother and mother in law both keep giving me stone ware and pottery in blue and green. They actually relate beautifully to the blue laminate (don’t even get me started!) counters. I have all the crockery above the cabinets. Looks as good as it can for now.

    1. Hi Amy,

      That sounds very pretty. I think it’s like some of the bad examples when folks just put up too many different types of things that it starts to look bad if not like someone just stuck a bunch of stuff up there, because they don’t know what else to do with it? That’s what rummage sales are for. You never hear the word ‘rummage’ any longer. Am I dating myself?

  41. Hey Laurel, what about those kitchens (like mine!) that have a soffit above the cabinets? What can we do?

  42. Laurel, I love your blog and wish I had found it earlier. Happy that I can go back and read posts from the past.
    Thanks for addressing the signage craze. I HATE all of them and a certain popular HGTV show does indeed encourage the proliferation. What is next?
    Sleep in the bedroom, P**P you know where.

    And, I have blue and white porcelain a top my dining room cabinet.
    You brighten my day!

    1. Hi Jane,

      I think I know the show even though I’ve never watched it!

      And yes, the posts never come down. One isn’t allowed to do that because Mr. Google hates that and we can’t have that. However, I can go back and rewrite them and some I have gone back to make them better.

  43. I have lived around the world in a variety of rentals and complexes where each flat is the same. The beautiful objects that people use to fill the spaces absolutely make rooms look better (or worse).

    1. Thanks Eileen,

      Cathy is gone. Deleted, deleted and deleted. After sleeping for only two hours, that is what had to be done. I don’t understand why some people think it’s okay to get on a site and insult the blog author. Fortunately, it’s very rare. xo

  44. I, too, love your blog Laurel, and I say “yes”! Blue and white porcelain can fix mostly anything! Thanks for the links – I’ve bought myself a beautiful blue and white bowl to fix my pink-beige cabinets. Done!

  45. Thanks for this! It’s great timing for me as I’ve recently been eyeing the gap between the top of my two vintage Temple Stuart corner china cabinets and the ceiling thinking that something needs to happen. But I admit I’ve been frightened by some of the things I’ve seen done with this kind of space.
    Some great suggestions here and definitely feeling less overwhelmed now. Thanks again.

  46. Boo hoo. I LOVE real plants like a row of pothos on top of cabinets. But it is a bit impracticable – I have to stand on a stepstool to get to them, have to line the top of the cabinets with something waterproof to out the pots on, have to exchange them to get enough light.

    But where else can I put a large mass of plants? (I already have 2 ficus trees & several large peace lilies.) I don’t want to get those cheap wire plant stands & look like the crazy plant lady. (I also hate plants that trail.)

    But, yeah, those ferns on top of kitchen cabinets look like the 80s/90s restaurants.

  47. Imagine if we had signs all over the house instructing us what to do in each room – ha!

  48. Hi Laurel, good morning again from the horse farm in Norway! Very timely post: we will have a wall of kitchen cupboards. Yes, with upper cabinets, and not open shelving…. Some of the cupboards will have glass doors, if you consider that a redeeming factor ;)?

    I know that is very against current trends. But, I always wonder when I see all that open shelving: WHO DOES THE CLEANING THERE?? In our house, that would be me. Oops!

    But, love the idea of blue and white chinoiserie on top there! So maybe I will let go of practicalities for that.

    Have a great week!

    1. Remember the 80s country trend when restaurants started putting all kinds of crazy things on their walls & then we started putting all kind of things on top of our kitchen cabinets?

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I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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