Above the Cabinets - Juniper Home

Above the Cabinets


It’s a question most of us had asked ourselves before… Should I decorate the space above my kitchen cabinets??

Reader Lisbeth wrote in with that exact question. She recently bought a new home (pictured below with the previous owner’s decor). The kitchen has particularly high ceilings (higher than 14′) and Lisbeth is not sure if or how to fill up all that wall space.
Here’s my two-cents.

Best case scenario, if you have a lot of room in your budget, you could follow the new trend of building up and adding a second row of cabinets. I especially like glass paned doors on the second shelf.

via Giannetti Architecture
design by Nate Berkus

image via Cottage Living

image via Domino Mag

And don’t forget a ladder.

Okay. Back to reality.

It’s not likely that adding more cabinets is in the budget – that would be a very big expenditure. So regarding decor above cabinets – the rule is go big, or go home. No small paintings. No cake plates hanging out up there solo. It would be better to leave the cabinets blank if you don’t have a nice collection to display.

And, in fact, there’s something really nice and clean about leaving the tops empty…

I mean, if Gwyneth Paltrow doesn’t care about blank wall space!…

If you decide that you do want to put up shelf decor though, I’ll share with you a few of my favorite ideas.

1. Storage items.

Find and collect large boxes, baskets, storage chests, etc. for storing dry goods or magazines or cook books or food processor attachments that you never use like the cheese grater thing, or whatever.

I like these baskets from Domino (RIP)

Or these from Cottage Living.

2. Purely Decorative

Scour your local salvage yard for cool architectural pieces to display as almost sculpture.

Or start a collection of birdcages, like this pagoda cage in this Ruthie Sommers room.

Or antique water jugs.

3. Plates

I love me some hanging plates. It would be easy to amass a small collection to hang on the wall with plate hangers. You could stick with all white plates…

Or add some fun color and eclectic patterns…

Eddie Ross also likes to hang plates in the space above his cabinets. He has an incredibly gorgeous collection of antique ironstone, which you can pick up on eBay and at flea markets. You could also hang just plain, cheap, white plates and platters to achieve a similar effect.

I also like layering the hanging plates on the walls with stacks of bowls, pitchers, compotes, urns and cake stands. Again, though, you’ll need a substantial collection to fill in all that space above your cabinets.
Here are other collections of whiteware on top of cabinets.

4. Shelves.

I love the idea of adding a long shelf to the two corner walls to help fill in the large wall space. I would probably add a collection of plates or pottery to these shelves (see above and below). The shelves will help fill in the space and make the dishware collection feel more substantial, and best of all, draw the eye up and bring attention to the incredibly high ceilings.

like so –
5. Mirrors.

Remember this photo from an old Martha Stewart Living? It’s been floating around in my mind for years.

It would be so easy to recreate this look in any room or on any wall in your house – including the wall space above your cabinets.

Mirrors are like little lamps during the day. They are great for spreading natural light and making rooms feel bright and happy.

As for sourcing – you’re in luck. Mirrors are absolutely everywhere. And you can usually get them for cheap. Thrift stores. Ebay. Michaels (or other craft chains). Target. HomeGoods/Marshalls/Ross. Bed Bath and Beyond. Pier 1. Pretty much any store you go to, you can find an interesting and cheap mirror. Talk about a big impact for this room.

So what about you, readers? What is your favorite trick for decorating above the cabinets? {And if any of you suggest faux ivy or grape vines, you’ll be officially banished from the blog.}

P.S. Don’t forget about the give away – you still have until Sunday night at midnight to leave a comment here.

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21 thoughts on “Above the Cabinets

  1. Hi Jenny!
    What a great post. Kudos on the great research and pics. I love the look of double stacked cabinets as well, and think of all the extra party gear that you could store up there. And with a ladder to boot, that would be heaven.

  2. I agree on the keeping it clean. If they really want to put something above – the think the plates are nice – but might start looking cluttered.

    Less to collect dust. That is my ideal.

  3. My mom collects antique tea kettles. They are all different colors and shapes and I think they look great up there. I’m going to tell her about the shelf idea. That’s a good one!

  4. I like my kitchen to look almost sterile, so I vote nothing. Although I HAVE seen plates look cool.

    My friend has a beautiful light blue and white kitchen, and she puts pops of yellow up on those shelves. Anytime she goes somewhere and finds something bright yellow (vases, plates, baskets, urns) she picks it up and adds to her collection. I think it looks adorable, but I’m a sucker for pops of color.

  5. Also, oh my goodness, I can’t believe I almost forgot about this: we’re house hunting, so we get to see a lot of really crazy decorating, and we went to this house where the kitchen had a border of pineapples. So, so weird, especially since the rest of the kitchen was decorated with native american prints. And, of course, they had fake ivy up there above the stove. I couldn’t buy the house because I just didn’t trust someone with that bad of taste to have lived there before me.

  6. I’m so glad you posted about this. Great ideas. The go all out or go home rule is so true. I hate when there are just tiny things up there that you can barely see.

  7. I love the ‘nothing idea’ but with a painted wall above. I also enjoy a very clean kitchen feel. I have never been able to convince myself that buying a strand of ivy was a good idea and it is good to know I at least was right about SOMETHING!

    Great post. I great blog. great brain.

  8. Leaving the space blank is the best bet and most economical! however, if one must “decorate” the tops of their cabinets, then only large baskets should be added. remember it gets dusty up on high. really the less is better, especially with high ceilings.

  9. Another solution to high walls is to dress the ceiling. Faux beams or wood planks makes the upper part of the room look finished with out the need for accessories.

    Adding wallpaper or some other form of visual texture above the wall cabinets is a very cost effective solution and best of all, no dusting required.

    Add rope lighting. Uplighting enhances the room and adds some character at night. The best time to buy it is after Christmas on clearance.

  10. I loved the mirrors–I had that thought myself before getting to the part where you mentioned it.

    I also love the idea of different sizes of clear apothecary (sp?) jars in little random groupings…with maybe a different color or texture to the walls behind??

    I love your blog. I thank Katy for turning me on to it. I have many a question for you! he,he,he. I am redoing an entire house that is in orginal 1960’s form. Na-sty.

  11. recently i decided to take everything off the top of my cabinets and i love the simplicty it has brought into the room. so i vote, less is more {sometimes!}

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  13. Ditto with the empty space above the cabinets! I popped a few large inexpensive World Market baskets up there and filled with those pesky holiday dishes that you never have enough room for. Covered with some linens and no worries about dust collecting…..

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