You’re standing in your kitchen, and suddenly you notice the gaping space above your kitchen cabinets. In a small kitchen, this is an unfortunate waste of space. In a large one, it’s a wasted design opportunity. If you’re wondering how to decorate above kitchen cabinets, don’t despair. With a little thought and a step-ladder these empty nooks can shine.
Before we start looking at specifics, here are some general tips:
Keep it consistent. Any collections or items should have a common and obvious theme. Try to maintain your preexisting color scheme and general vibe.
Less is more. Overcrowding the tops of your cupboards will just make your kitchen feel small and cramped.
Don’t try to fit everything. This is a space for decorations and decorative storage.
Not every cabinet is equal. If the space above your cabinets is uneven, have a piece of half-inch plywood cut to size and simply place it on top.
Now let’s tackle two main tactics for using the area above your cabinets: using the space as storage or using the space for decor. There’s overlap between these categories, however, any visible storage can (and should!) be done artfully enough to count as decor.
Because everyone can use a little extra room in their life, let’s start with storage. If you’ve got odd vintage kitchen paraphernalia, awkwardly sized pots, way too many magazines, or just need a little more pantry space, these ideas are for you. Whether you need to squirrel some junk away, or turn your kitchen essentials into decor, here are ideas to get you started.
For when you need to hide it…
Baskets are a good solution for larger items or collections of items. Use a set of matching ones to hold extra coffee beans, crackers, dried fruit, teas, sandwich bags and leftover containers…whatever doesn’t fit in the pantry is fair game. For a more minimalist kitchen, canvas or wire baskets will be a good fit. For more rustic styles, wicker baskets or wooden crates may be appropriate.
For those of us with knick-knacks and odd ends, or who need extra space for storing baking supplies, canisters are a useful choice. This allows a little more breathing room than baskets, and is better for when you need to store specific supplies rather than categories of things.
That said, always remember that you don’t have to tell anyone what’s in your canisters! If you use opaque ones, you can store anything from dishwasher pods to the contents of your junk drawer in a stylish manner.
Curtains or More Cabinets
If you simply want extra storage space away from prying eyes, buy a curtain rod and some valence curtains. This is particularly useful in a smaller kitchen, where a spring tension curtain rod can easily do the trick. Stash away.
If you want to go the extra mile, have matching, small cabinets installed to keep your room cohesive while storing excess items.
For when you want to show it off…
If you’ve got a collection of cookbooks, consider storing them atop your cabinets. This will give a homey feel to any kitchen and keeps your recipes easily accessible just in case. Depending on how many you have, you might want to pair this with a different decor idea. For example, in a larger space, placing a houseplant on a stack of cookbooks could be the adorable accent you’ve been waiting for.
Tall Stuff and Odd Items
Say you have a few larger or lesser-used items, like serving platters, cutting boards, or a dutch oven. Arranging these above your cabinets can be an excellent use of space. Just try to keep these sets of items thematic. Displaying your tea service is a good idea. Displaying baking ware and canisters of flour, sugar, and chocolate chips is cute. Displaying your stock pot, dutch oven, and cast iron pans can be rustic chic. However, mixing dainty china with heavy, blackened pans would make for an awkward look.
Wine Racks or Drink Paraphernalia
If you’re a wine lover, a few wine racks above the cabinets will be ideal. Not only does this miniature wine cellar look sophisticated, it also keeps your favorites at hand. The same idea can apply to spirits for the liquor enthusiast, or beer glassware for the hop-happy.
If you’re hungering for even more versatility, you might try adding levels with another shelf. For simple visual interest, a small shelf (such as a repurposed over the sink shelf) can shake things up. For a broader conversion, try using three wine racks (or stacked cook books, or bricks) to hold up a shelf along the length of the cabinets.
For those with big kitchens, fewer items, or plenty of storage space already, the top of the kitchen cabinet is a perfect place to make a statement. Instead of ignoring that space, you can integrate it into your kitchen’s look to create a cohesive, comfortable aesthetic.
The simplest of changes to your kitchen crevices comes in the form of string lights. Adding a little light can change the mood of your space, giving it a comfortable lift. With just a couple strings of cheap twinkle lights, an awkward space can become a cute lighting statement.
Especially for larger gaps, painting the wall above the your cabinets with an accent color can tie your kitchen together. Suddenly, rather than feeling like an architectural mistake, the space can add a pop of color, creating visual interest and a strong design statement.
Art and Collections
If you need more space for your art—or if you have always liked the idea of art in the kitchen but worry about the practicality of it—then the space above your cabinets might be a great display option. Of course, not all spaces lend themselves to this. If you’ve got a particularly dark, small cabinet gap, art display might not be the way to go.
Along the same lines, collections can make an excellent statement above cabinets. As long as what you collect is large enough to be seen from afar, and fits in with the general look of your kitchen, the space above your kitchen cabinets is a perfect place to show off your prized possessions. Fine tableware, figurines, vases, tea tins, vintage french presses—the sky is the limit.
Known for their ability to brighten a space and provide fresher air, houseplants are a great way to fill the odd space at the top of your kitchen. Look for a plant that has vines, and doesn’t mind being away from direct sunlight. Try a philodendron, golden pothos, maidenhair palm, or creeping fig.
To Wrap Up
Ultimately, the answer for how to decorate above kitchen cabinets is simple. As long as you match your new storage solutions and design ideas to your kitchen’s preexisting look, and don’t try to cram too much into the same spot, using the space above your cabinets is bound to create a great new addition to your kitchen.