Space above kitchen cabinets can either blend in or stand out visually. While a solid-covered soffit space is popular in contemporary homes, it's still common to build soffits to hold artwork, dishes or indoor plants. The spacing of the room, from the tops of cabinets to the ceiling, will contribute to the balanced look of the kitchen. You will need to consider the height of the ceiling and other factors in creating soffit space.
Standard Ceiling Space
Take your kitchen's ceiling height into consideration. Soffit space should begin 84 inches off the kitchen floor. This means that a typical soffit for an 8-foot tall kitchen will be 12 inches high. But, you will still need to ensure this size space works well for your kitchen. The standard size is only a general starting point. For example, if you have a 10-foot ceiling, you may need to install taller upper cabinets to create visual balance. Or, you may want to stack two cabinet sizes that fill up the soffit space.
Custom Cabinet Options
Look at several options for finishing the soffit space. For instance, if you like the idea of using tall custom-made upper cabinets in a kitchen with a 9-foot ceiling, this may leave only 6 inches of soffit space at the top. Consider enclosing those 6 inches and finishing them with crown molding at the ceiling level or installing a row of tile to match floor tiles, as possible options, for a professional look.
Balanced Room Design
If your kitchen ceiling is 8 feet tall, leave a soffit space no less than the standard 12 inches used in most homes. Whatever size or types of cabinets you decide to use, you want upper cabinets to appear high enough on the walls to give the room a balanced look. A foot of soffit space leaves ample room to place artificial plants or decorative objects. Keep in mind that lesser soffit room can make the ceiling look too low, and a tiny soffit height of just a few inches will, in reality, provide room for dust collection only.
Every kitchen should be very unique. That's why it's a good idea to draw the room on graph paper with all windows and door facings included. You can create soffit space that works for your plan. It's difficult to change soffit space at any point, so use materials in this space that look pleasing with countertops, furniture, appliances and all amenities.Tiling the soffit front to match the kitchen backsplash or painting it a bold color may look best in your kitchen, for example.
Color Blending Techniques
When in doubt about enclosed soffit space, make the soffit the same color as the cabinets. This way, you will visually blend the surfaces to look harmonious from any angle. For example, paint the soffit covering material hunter green if the cabinets are hunter green. Stain wood veneer sheeting oak, if the cabinets are oak. Use colored pencils to make detailed sketches, so you get the true picture of how your kitchen will look.
Judi Light Hopson
Judi Light Hopson is a national stress management expert and psychology issues writer. Her column on relationships, co-written with a nurse and a psychologist, is distributed by McClatchy Newspapers to over 300 major publications worldwide. Ms. Hopson has written for employee assistance programs that serve over 15% of America’s Fortune 500 companies. links provided below.