Should cabinetry extend to the ceiling or stop at a functionally useful height?

The key issue here is “how large is the room?”. By this I mean the perception of the space and the objects in it. This comes down to two choices: If the cabinetry runs to the ceiling, the room stops at the face of the cabinetry. If the cabinetry stops short of the ceiling, the room stops at the wall behind the cabinetry. What goes above the cabinetry is an aesthetic choice, “decorating” if you will; the decision to bring the cabinetry head away from the ceiling is (perhaps) more “architectural”. With the generally insidious economic pressure eroding technical expertise, the quality of available material deteriorating and the general understanding of the industry based on less and less knowledge (and ironically more and more “information”); lowered expectation of product quality forces us to re-think our approach to design. Making a 42″ (or even 36″) tall door on an upper cabinet runs much greater risk of warp than it once did. This should play into our design criteria when making a decision on this point. In general, I believe that if you have to get a stepladder to access something in a kitchen you’ve designed, at the very least you should have considered the necessity of the higher shelving, how much stuff you’re accumulating, etc. In case it isn’t obvious, I am a firm believer in keeping the head height of cabinetry in the 7′-0″ range…the average height of an American female being 5’4″ or so, the reach to the top shelf of even this cabinetry height is pretty much at the extreme physical capability of the user.

Blog Category: