Main Line Kitchen Design
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Lafayette Hill Pa Kitchen

Kitchen designers should first consider the 30 plus National Kitchen and Bath Association  guidelines when designing a kitchen.

After doing that the best designers know the simple tips below. Inexperienced designers, architects, interior designers, and home owners usually do not. This is just the tip of the ice berg for good kitchen design.


Please go to our home page in the tabs above to learn more about our company if you are within our service area.


1 ) Never leave crown moldings closer than 9 inches from a ceiling. Once you get within a foot of the ceiling you should have the cabinetry and molding meet ceiling. Don’t create spaces that look odd and that can’t be cleaned.



Molding too close to ceiling without reaching it.


2 ) Professionals avoid corner sinks and equal sized double bowl sinks because they create such dysfunctional designs.


3 ) Keep cabinetry the same distance away from each side of a window.


4 ) Keep cabinet doors the same size and on either side of a window, sink or cooktop.



Cabinet doors on either side of the window are different sizes. Notice the other mistakes like the distance from the wall cabinets to the window is different on each side of the window and the crown molding is too close to the ceiling.


5 ) Some cabinet door styles or colors are so unpopular they that destroy the value of a home. Arched wall cabinet doors or golden oak stained kitchens are home value detractors. Pickled pinkish stain and white raised panel plastic Thermafoil cabinets are also home value killers.


6 ) Never run cabinets all the way to the ceiling without a two piece crown molding or a solid wood spacer. Ceilings are never level and there needs to be some way to disguise this.


7 ) Never put 8 feet of cabinetry in an 8 foot space. Professional kitchen designers know that walls are out of plumb or have bulges and that you can NEVER completely fill a space with whole cabinets. Fillers allow designers to make the adjustments that make a kitchen look right.


8 ) Good designers almost never use 42″ high wall cabinets and would NEVER use anything higher. Builders and amateurs use these heights to maximize cabinetry not realizing that the higher height looks out of proportion and gives little added space benefit. Cabinetry doors look best when their size is closer to The Golden Ratio. Good designers will stack cabinets with small cabinet doors on top to avoid overly tall wall cabinets.


42″ Wall Cabinets. Don’t they look silly so tall?


9 ) Always upgrade to all plywood construction or at the very least make every exposed surface real plywood. Particle board cabinets have plastic pictures of wood on their sides that discolor and peal quickly.


10 ) Highly grained man made quartz and Corian countertop patterns such as the beautiful Cambria Brittanica can not be seamed inconspicuously. These type patterns only work on tops without seams.



Cambria Brittanica countertop


11 ) Never start even the demolition on a job without a completed design plan finalized. NO time is EVER saved rushing. When contractors know what the complete project entails costs are lowered and the job runs smoothly.


The people that finish first are never the ones that started first they are the ones that planned to completion first and then started. When you hear a story about a kitchen that took 6 months or a year this was the fault of the unprofessional people organizing the job.


12 ) How much cabinets cost has little to do with their durability and more to do with the cabinet lines ability to customize. Doing a simplistic design or finish in a very popular door style like a shaker style in an expensive cabinet line is often just throwing money away.


13 ) Higher price level stone and man made tops, are not more durable, they cost more because of their color and pattern. In fact the higher level tops while beautiful may require more maintenance or be hard too seam.measure


14 ) The first constructive step in starting a kitchen project is having a professional kitchen designer measure the space. Any design work or material selections made prior to a professional kitchen designer measuring is inefficient and can lead to frustrations when surprises and problems are revealed to you by someone with more knowledge and experience.


15) The best kitchen designers will not ask for the the design you want. They will show you designs that make sense for your space and that you should at least consider. You can make changes from there to arrive at the kitchen that you want after considering what a profesional would do with your space. Saving money on material selections will make almost any design affordable. So keeping a layout the same ALMOST NEVER makes sense. It is the design itself that gives value to your home. Upgrading to professional appliances or custom styles and colors can be beautiful but the added expense is wasted if the design itself is poor.


Designers that give customers what they think that they want without at least showing them what’s possible are taking the easy road and the final kitchen always suffers.


Call in to our recorded Podcast 2-4 pm Fridays Eastern Standard Time to ask cabinetry and design questions. Have designs ready to email for layout advice. Call 610-500-4071

Close up of the kitchen range and vent on the island

Main Line Kitchen Design 2014 CotY Award winner


Here is a link to some other design tips:


Wishing all our customers a relaxing and enjoyable summer. And of course…


Bon Appetit!

Paul, Julie, Tom, John and Ed

Main Line Kitchen Design.


  1. Jeff Carbine, October 20, 2021 at 12:50 am:

    I loved it when you said never leave crown moldings closer than 9 inches from a ceiling. Once you get within a foot of the ceiling you should have the cabinetry and molding meet ceiling. We are renovating our kitchen, and I want it to look elegant this time. We are looking for the best kitchen cabinets to add to the beauty of the kitchen.

  2. pmcalary, September 28, 2021 at 8:19 am:

    Hi Garret,
    I usually don’t let people post their websites but I have a soft spot for Bozeman Montana. One of the owners of our website development company lives in Bozeman and I designed his kitchen and shipped his cabinetry to Bozeman. I had a great time skiing at higher altitudes while I visited to measure and check on the renovation. You have a great website and a wonderful city. All the best!

  3. Garrett, September 27, 2021 at 9:45 pm:

    We recently started our own carpentry business and came across this article. Thanks for the good read. Take a look at our website

  4. pmcalary, June 7, 2021 at 7:11 am:

    Hi Sunny,
    A waterfall countertop has a seam. On an island a seam on the flat surface would look bad but obviously you need a 45% seam to create a waterfall with any type of stone. For an 8ft ceiling I would normally recommend that the cabinetry reach 90″ with a two part crown molding then reaching the ceiling. For slab doors and more contemporary cabinetry the cabinetry can be taller if the ceiling is very level up to 93″ and then a single flat molding is used to reach the ceiling.

    12″ tiles on the floor are fine for a small bath. Some kind of mosaic also might make the room interesting.

  5. Sunny Armstrong, June 6, 2021 at 9:01 pm:

    Hi! These are really great tips! I saw a beautiful photo from Ceaserstone featured an island with a quartz countertop with a waterfall type of thing going on the sides. Is the corner of the countertop and the side waterfall not considered a seam? Also, what height of cabinetry do you recommend for an 8 ft ceiling? Lastly, are large (12 in) beige/cream ceramic tiles good for small to medium bathrooms? Thanks in advance!

  6. pmcalary, May 3, 2021 at 12:58 pm:

    Hi Ruth,
    Kitchens are way to complicated to answer questions like these. If you sent us a floorplan and called in to our podcast on a Friday we could help. Call 610-500-4071 between 2-4pm on a Friday. The one quest I can answer is yes, generally you want 36″ high wall cabinets and a two piece crown molding reaching the ceiling

  7. Ruth, May 3, 2021 at 12:36 pm:

    Considering replacing cabinets in our small kitchen which is open to dining area (and dining area open to living room); length of kitchen area 102”, dining room 101”; width 107”. Ceiling height 96”. Currently have a 12” soffit and cabinets on each side. Sink beneath window on outside wall that measures 43 1/4” wide and is positioned 26 3/8” from the back wall of kitchen. Range and refrigerator on opposite wall with cabinet on either side of range. Currently cabinets end at 96” from back wall and balanced either side of sink but have a 42” sink base. What would you recommend in layout to balance functionality and aesthetics, especially if go to the now standard 36” sink base? And for upper cabinets do you suggest 36” with riser and crown moulding? Does deeper cabinet over refrigerator work in back corner of kitchen?

  8. pmcalary, April 26, 2021 at 1:19 pm:

    Hi Greg,
    Thanks for following our blog
    We respond to questions from outside our service area free of charge either on our blog via comments on the blog or by phone during our call-in podcast most Fridays between 2 and 4 pm Eastern Standard Time.

    Just call in to 610-500-4071 and leave a message during those hours and we will call you back when your turn comes up. All calls are returned even after 4pm.We review plans free of charge on the podcast simply have them ready to email before you call.


  9. Greg, April 26, 2021 at 10:51 am:

    Hi Paul, I so wish we could find a company like yours in our area. We began by meeting with three different “professional” designers. One of them told us a remodel would cost $50,000 or more and left without even taking measurements. One of them maintained our exact, 1966 tract house layout, despite our request for improvement. And the third showed us two sample designs and when we began to ask about decisions and potential options said she couldn’t do any more until we agreed to a $2000 fee toward purchase of $60,000 plus remodel.

    We found ourselves at Lowes and just finished a design. The design, in a Kraftmaid Bagley (Shaker with small profile to inner panel) cabinet with an “aged” finish (not distressed), incorporates some of our ideas and requests and some great ideas from the designer. It priced out at just over $16,000 — if we take advantage of discount that ends 4/30 (after which 40% discount drops to 35%).

    I found your site last night though and have many areas of concern. I would love to share the design with you for your opinion and suggestions! I haven’t figured out how to do that yet but will keep looking. A huge concern after reading this article is about cabinet height. Our ceiling is low, at 90 3/4″ +/- 1/4″. At my request, thinking it would allow extra storage space, the wall cabs are 33″. After reading your responses above, I am thinking they should be 30″ with “a matching flat riser . . . and an overlapping second, smaller, flat riser [to] keep the contemporary look.”

    I would be very appreciative for any suggestions that you can offer. Thank you.

  10. pmcalary, April 23, 2021 at 5:28 pm:

    Hi Joanne,
    The question is too simplistic to answer. For example in the last 120″ high kitchen we built a coffered ceiling down to 114″ then had 9″ high stacked crown moldings and used 36″ wall below with 15″ wall cabinets above combined to create 51″ wall cabinets. That’s just one of an infinite number of possible ways to get to 120 inches.

  11. pmcalary, April 23, 2021 at 5:23 pm:

    Hi Joanne,
    We have designed spaces and sold cabinetry around the US but doing it is harder to coordinate and the customer must pay as they go (in advance) for design time. If a $2000 deposit to start seems daunting then you should get our free help on our podcast Fridays 2 – 4 pm EST.

  12. Joanne, April 23, 2021 at 4:55 pm:

    I have 10’ ceilings 120 inches. Which size cabinets should I use to reach the ceiling ?

  13. Joanne, April 23, 2021 at 4:47 pm:

    Would you consider coming to Florida?

  14. pmcalary, April 16, 2021 at 7:25 am:

    Hi Danielle,
    36″ cabinets will the the least expensive size and will look best with a matching flat riser to the ceiling. A overlapping second smaller flat riser would keep the contemporary look and look even better IMO. Be careful with hickory cabinets, they are going to be full of stripes with all the wood color differences in hickory. Particularly with solid center panels the cabinets will look very busy. When homeowners make unusual selections or choose unusual woods I also worry that they are getting poor layout advice. I’d consider calling in to our Friday Podcast 2-4 EST. 610-500-4071 We review plans and give advice free of charge.

  15. Danielle Witczak, April 15, 2021 at 7:35 pm:

    Can you help us with solving a wall cabinet height issue? We are redoing our 80s ranch kitchen which currently has 30″ uppers with a 96″ ceiling. My husband greatly dislikes the open top above the uppers, but I think tall cabinets in a small kitchen look disproportional. Also, we both prefer simple straight lines and will be doing a shaker hickory cabinet. We aren’t huge fans of detailed crown, preferring something square or flat. Would 36 or 39″ uppers with a flat trim to the ceiling look too tall for the space? Or is it truly preferable in design to 30″ cabinets without any crown molding? Or is it truly necessary for us to embrace crown molding?(Our kitchen is small–we will only have 4 total upper cabinets, about 36″ each on one wall and 2 18″ on the other.)

  16. pmcalary, February 24, 2021 at 7:52 am:

    Hi Susie,
    Way too little information to give advice here. Sometimes with very high ceilings we create a tray or coffered celling. Depends on the room and on the style the customer is going for. You could call into the podcast on a Friday 2-4 pm EST with photos of the room ready to email. 610-500-4071

  17. Susie, February 23, 2021 at 8:53 pm:

    Hi, thank you for all your great info here. We have 117.5 in floor to ceiling in kit. Please please what size wall cabinets would you do? We like the stacked look, there is no soffit. Going to ceiling…seems like it may be towering?
    Thanks for any help!!

  18. pmcalary, February 22, 2021 at 11:39 am:

    Hi Amy,
    Generally I’d recomend making the two cabinets the same with. But we need to see the plans to really have an opinion.

  19. Amy, February 22, 2021 at 11:33 am:

    Hi, I have a question about my cabinets being built on each side of the kitchen window. On the left they will be two 11 inch wide doors opening in the middle and on the right they will be 12 1/4 wide opening in the middle. Is that to big of a difference in size for each side?

  20. pmcalary, February 12, 2021 at 11:36 am:

    This is purely preference. Although for inset cabinetry the cabinets should be combined so there would be no seam. I like no separator personally, because when you shin the cabinets on the side they look like one cabinet. That’s probably why the other place strongly disagrees. When you skin the sides it gives the look of custom cabinetry.

  21. Karen, February 12, 2021 at 11:22 am:

    We have contacted a few cabinet companies in our area for a complete kitchen remodel. We have 10 ft ceilings and want simple shaker cabinets, stacked to the ceiling. One company suggests using a separator trim between the wall cabinets and the top, glass front stacked cabinets. The other company strongly disagrees. Is there a “rule” or reason for either, or is it purely preference? Thank you!

  22. pmcalary, February 3, 2021 at 7:53 am:

    Hi Tami,
    36″ cabinets are mounted at 90″ on top so you can’t use moldings AND 36″ cabinets. No ones ceiling is usually level enough to not use moldings. You should remove the soffit and use 30″ cabinets with a two piece molding reaching the ceiling. Or shim down the ceiling to perfectly level and use 36″ cabinets and no moldings. I don’t like that look and make sure the cabinet doors dot hit any recessed lights if you go without moldings.

  23. Tami, February 2, 2021 at 11:59 pm:

    I have 90” ceilings. After removing the bulkhead I was hoping to go with a 36” cabinet with 2pc crown molding as opposed to a 30” but I am not sure if that will leave enough room between upper and lower cabinets.

  24. pmcalary, February 2, 2021 at 7:03 pm:

    Hi Kathy,
    You could stack 30″ and 12″ high cabinets to get that look, however if your ceilings are 96″ high you should NEVER be going to the ceiling with cabinets. You need moldings to reach the celling and 36″ high cabinets in a room 96″ high. Ceilings and floors are never level and since cabinetry must be installed level you need some way to account for this.

  25. Kathy, February 2, 2021 at 6:55 pm:

    I love your site and appreciate your willingness to help. I have a small kitchen with 111″ (yes, I’ve triple measured) and would like to replace my 30″ cabinets with ones that go to the ceiling. I’ve looked at 36″ with 18″ stacked but am trying to find a way to cut costs. Do you know if there is such a thing as a 42″ cabinet with 2 stacking doors so that it looks like the one cabinet is 2? You could open the 30″ door daily but only open the 12″ door when you need access to the top shelf? I don’t like the look of 42″ doors (seems huge in my little kitchen) so am trying to think of alternatives. What do you think?

  26. Paul Langley, January 20, 2021 at 3:44 pm:

    It’s great that you mentioned kitchen design. We wanted our kitchen to be upgraded with everything. It gives us some ideas about what to do. I’ll definitely am looking forward to our kitchen renovation!

  27. pmcalary, January 3, 2021 at 5:24 pm:

    Hi Cheryl,
    If you have casement windows you need to be able to turn the crank to open the window. So the window must be up off the countertop enough to turn the crank with your fingers around it. The Sellersville Kitchen had cranks that angled up more than usual, making keeping the existing casement windows possible.

    Also casement windows open out, so patios and decks are compromised by the window. IE You can’t have seating or a table in front of the window on the outside of the house. And you can’t pass anything out a casement window easily. Casement windows also cost 2 or 3 times more than double hung windows.

    So if you are ordering new window keep all these issues in mind. Personally if there is a patio or a deck outside the window I would not use casement windows and might use a picture window with two double hungs on either side if the window openings were wide enough. See photo link below:

  28. Cheryl Dinardo, January 2, 2021 at 12:00 am:

    Hi Paul et al,
    First thank you for all your wonderful ideas! I would love to have the window above my sink come down to the countertop. I have casement windows throughout my house. I noticed in your Sellsville kitchen mentioned above there is a casement window to the countertop. My designer said that if I did this it would be hard to open the window. Any pointers or anything I should know about putting a casement window to the countertop. Thank you

  29. pmcalary, December 31, 2020 at 11:56 am:

    Hi Sally,
    Way too little information here. “Contemporary” means what type door style? What finish? What’s the design layout look like? What type of hood?

    All these things along with the type of countertop, backsplash, and flooring weigh heavily on what type of crown molding (if any) would look best.

    If you are working with a talented professional Kitchen Designer they can explain what things you should consider when choosing a crown and help you make sure all your choices compliment each other.

    As with many people who ask questions on our blog, you might want to email a design to us to help you. We take calls and answer emails free of charge for people outside our service area on Fridays 2-4Pm I decided to man the phones New Years Day even though we are closed so you could try then – or any other Friday.

  30. Sally, December 31, 2020 at 11:30 am:

    We are building a vacation home with a great room that has very high pitched ceilings. the kitchen cabinets will be 42 inches tall, with lots of space above. this is a contemporary design so we have chosen a simple bullnose crown molding. Recommendations for this height of this bullnose crown “trim” on the top vary from 3/4 inch to 1 1/2 inches. I would appreciate your thoughts on this. Thank you

  31. pmcalary, December 26, 2020 at 3:45 pm:

    Hi Barbara,
    Kitchens are too complicated to give an answer to a question like that without seeing a floor plan, and knowing the style of cabinetry you are selecting. Any choice you make with cabinetry reaching the ceiling will put you into an expensive cabinet line.

    One answer might be for custom inset cabinetry: 39″ high lower wall cabinets with 18″ high upper cabinets and 9″ stacked crown reaching the ceiling.

    Personally I love a tray ceiling when it can work in a room with 10 foot ceilings.

    For very traditional kitchens where a tray ceiling works a coffered ceiling could be a dramatic choice as well.

  32. Barbara Gillam, December 26, 2020 at 3:11 pm:

    Hi Paul,

    We are building a new home for our retirement and in trying to keep the cost down we are doing as much of our own research and work as possible. Today I found your blog and I’ve been totally consumed. Thank you for making yourself so available to help others.

    We live in a small town with limited options for kitchen stores. However on the positive there are a number of qualified cabinet makers. The down side they are not so creative and seem to think I can’t take my cabinets to the 10′ ceiling height.

    My house will be a modern farmhouse, open concept L-shaped kitchen with a 8.5′ island all open to the great room. If you would share with me your thoughts of the best measurements for stacking cabinets and crown for a 10′ ceiling it would be greatly appreciated.

  33. pmcalary, October 29, 2020 at 8:41 am:

    Hi Sarah,
    I dislike bare space between the ceiling and the top of the molding so much that I would create a tray ceiling around the perimeter of the room at 10 1/2 feet off the floor. Then I would use 42 inch wall cabinets with 21 inch cabinets on top with 9 inch stacked molding to reach the tray. Inside the tray I would run crowm molding and you could even do a ceiling in somethin interesting like stucco or painted embossed wall paper made to look like tin. Or you could do the tray in beadboard as seen in this kitchen:

    I don’t like the design and cabinetry in the photo above it just had the tray.

  34. Sarah, October 28, 2020 at 5:59 pm:

    We are building and the kitchen will have 12’ ceilings. What cabinet height do you recommend? What I can find suggests either 42” cabinets or 36” with a 12” stacked on top of that. I think that leaves plenty of room for molding on top, and ample space between that and ceiling. Would you agree?

  35. pmcalary, September 30, 2020 at 8:22 am:

    Hi Tina,
    The “Scribe” molding you refer to has nothing to do with custom cabinetry. All cabinet lines sell the molding that is added to the side of the cabinets if your home’s walls are out of plumb, out of square, or wavy. Some high end contractors prefer to not use scribe molding and instead skim coat the walls with plaster to hide the gaps the occur when walls are not perfect. That looks best of all but requires the most work and a skilled plasterer.

  36. Tina, September 29, 2020 at 8:04 pm:

    Should custom cabinets have that finishing strip of wood down the side that meets cabinet to wall area or is it used just for wall / cabinet gap ? Personally i think with it , it looks more finished .
    Thank you

  37. pmcalary, August 31, 2020 at 10:06 pm:

    Hi Chrysalis – A picture is worth a thousand worlds. Show any professional a photo or call us on a Friday 2-4 pm and you can email a photo that we can discuss.

  38. Chrysalis, August 31, 2020 at 7:24 pm:

    Hi! I just bought a new construction condo and noticed that the edge of the base cabinets are longer than the actual cabinets and it looks very odd having that piece sticking out. I have seen other new constructions and none of them looked like that. The construction company told us that that is how it’s supposed to be. The do not intend to place another piece of wood to make it an L-shape edge, so the one piece is just there sticking out. Is this normal? I have been trying to find anything online that looks like it, but have not had any luck.

  39. pmcalary, August 17, 2020 at 3:47 pm:

    Hi Thomas,
    17 or 18 inches is perfect for adding 12″ cabinets on top with 5 or 6 inches of a stacked crown molding. However you may encounter two problems:

    First if you have measured correctly and have 42″ high wall cabinets with 17 or 18″ left without molding this would mean that your ceiling was 110 or 111 inches high. This would make your ceiling a very rare height. This makes me think you may have measured incorrectly. So triple check everything.

    Second, 12″ high cabinets are only available in a limited number of sizes in less expensive cabinet lines. So unless your present cabinetry is higher priced you won’t be able to get all the sizes you need in the same cabinet line. Mixing cabinet lines would be impossible to succeed at unless you were a very experienced designer and unfortunately no responsible kitchen designer would sell cabinetry to a customer mixing lines.

    So unless your cabinetry is a higher end semi custom or custom cabinet line you won’t be able to get the 12″ cabinets you need.

    If your existing cabinetry is a higher end line and has the sizes you need, AND the cabinet brand still makes your cabinet door style and finish, Get a designers help to order the skins and the stacked moldings you will need to complete the project.

    This will be a tough project to pull off but with the right kitchen it could make sense.


  40. Thomas, August 17, 2020 at 3:15 pm:

    Hi, love the tips in the article. We have 42″ uppers with crown molding on top. If we remove the molding there is about 17-18″ to the ceiling. We were thinking about doing 12″ upper uppers on top and then crown molding to the ceiling, but your note about needing a 2 piece molding makes sense. Is 17″ too tall to do a 2 piece molding? I love the look when the cabinets meet the ceiling.

  41. pmcalary, August 7, 2020 at 2:51 pm:

    Hi Karen,
    You always need to have a two piece crown molding reaching the ceiling once you get close. Leaving 3 inches will create a space that can’t be cleaned ot easily painted. The flat riser will allow you to level the crown molding and will close in the space that otherwise would look silly and collect dust, dust mites, grease and dirt for decades which is a health issue. The kitchen designer you are working with is incompetent if they aren’t insisting that you have the molding enclose the space.

  42. Karen, August 7, 2020 at 12:57 pm:

    Hello we are redoing our kitchen, we have remove the soffit and decided to go with 36” cabinets, we purchase 3 inch crown molding and will have about a 3-4 space between the molding and the ceiling.
    Also our space between the countertop and the bottom of the cabinet is about 18-19 inches.
    Do you think we need to go with a 6 inch crown molding vs the 3 inch that we have?
    Also what do you think about the space between the countertop and the cabinet is it too low?

  43. pmcalary, July 20, 2020 at 10:06 am:

    Hi Mrs. T,
    Sorry, kitchens are far too complicated to give answers to these types of questions without measuring, seeing, and deigning the kitchen. I don’t even know what “refreshing” a kitchen would entail.

  44. Ms. T, July 20, 2020 at 7:53 am:

    Hi there, this article was extremely helpful. What do you recommend for refreshing a kitchen with varying upper cabinet heights and mounding that don’t reach the ceiling or soffit? (Soffit only on one side) for cohesiveness is it best to just get the moulding and trim all the same size? Or can you still use stacked cabinets with varying heights? I have been looking for a photo of this and can’t find anything. Thanks!

  45. Paul McAlary, May 31, 2020 at 4:55 pm:

    Hi Laura,
    Soffits are almost always 12 inches high with 30″ wall cabinets below. What looks far better is 36″ wall cabinets with a 6 inch stacked crown molding above. The added cost of redoing any plumbing to fit in a 6″ space is worth the better look. The taller wall cabinets are much nicer looking and 6″ of molding looks appropriate where as 12″ looks too large. You get added storage space as well.

  46. Laura, May 31, 2020 at 9:42 am:

    Hi Paul,
    Forgive me if this is a dumb question! In comments on another post I had asked about soffits and agree with your opinion that they’re a “no”. I am having trouble visualizing the difference in look between:
    A. removing the soffits and then adding a filler piece up to a crown molding
    B. keeping the soffits, painting them or adding the filler piece over, and adding crown molding.
    Same height cabinets either way. The existing soffits are even with the cabinet depth.
    I’m positive that the soffits are going based on your prior advice, so if this question is too silly feel free to disregard! It’s really just a matter of curiosity. I don’t know yet if there is duct work and such in the soffits and in that case I suppose it would have to be moved into the attic space.

  47. pmcalary, May 22, 2020 at 9:08 am:

    Hi DiAnn,
    The answer is yes but how would be determined by the measurements of your specific kitchen. This is what kitchen designers help with.

  48. DiAnn, May 21, 2020 at 11:04 pm:

    Is there a way to have cabinets go to the ceiling if there’s one structural beam that would be in the way?

  49. pmcalary, April 16, 2020 at 7:05 pm:

    Hi Melissa,
    What you really need is to be working with an experienced designer. Since cabinet dealers INCLUDE the cost of the designers time in the price of the cabinets that they sell and there are dealers like Main Line Kitchen Design that are less than Home Centers and only a fraction more than ordering cabinetry on line, it makes no sense not to be working with an experienced designer. Unless you are in a very rural area too far from a choice of cabinet dealers. For example in the three kitchen you have done so far, you have acquired as much experience as a profession would in about a week. Since it takes many years for a kitchen designer to become even competent you definitely need help.

  50. Melissa, April 16, 2020 at 6:02 pm:

    I own some outdated rental properties in upcoming neighborhoods and I’ve had the time of my life designing their remodels. I just completed my third project and I couldn’t agree more with what you have said. I wish I had designed every single thing up front before demo even started – the lag time up front would have made up for itself by saving time, money, and frustration later on. I love all my units… but my latest renovation one looks much better than the ones before! However, I’m always learning (usually the hard way). This project I learned how right you are about uppers. Unfortunately I used 40″ upper cabinets. In a typical home with 8 foot ceilings, you have to run them up basically to the ceiling to maintain proper counter-cabinet clearance of 18″. I thought I left enough room for our 2″ trim but our ceilings are SO uneven that we only have 0.5″ in some areas and I’m at a loss on how to make it look beautiful. Now I know for next time.

  51. pmcalary, February 8, 2020 at 12:08 pm:

    Hi Karen,
    Single doors will look ridiculous higher than than 42″ You should stack cabinetry or have have a combined cabinet with small doors on top if you go higher than 42″ and always have molding to the ceiling if you are closer than 9 inches away. 52″ combined cabinetry would only work if the ceiling was perfectly level. 48″ combined with a two piece crown molding is the best way to reach the ceiling in a 9′ room.

  52. Karen, February 8, 2020 at 10:29 am:

    Hello and thank you so very much for this wonderful article and blog! I know this is a kitchen design site. However, I have a home office cabinets question. The windows in our office are 64″ from top of frame to bottom of frame with 8″ of space from top of frame to ceiling. Ceiling is 9 foot high. Should I have the top of the cabinets even with the top of the window framing or is it OK to have the top of the cabinets below the top of the framing? My cabinet guy originally wanted 52″ high cabinets! LOL. I re-sketched and thought 48″ high max with a 40″ offset in the middle (I know you said nothing above 42″). I want the cabinets to be 23 or 24″ above our desk. Thank you in advance! ~ Karen

  53. pmcalary, February 3, 2020 at 12:15 pm:

    Hi Stephanie,
    Cabinetry on either side of a sink can be done flush or with panels it’s really a matter of personal choice, although panels cost much more and it looks fine without them. If you have a valance connecting the two wall cabinet on either side of the sink then having raised panel doors will not work and the sides must be flush. You can always add them if you decide you want them, assuming you don’t have a valance. They will probably cost between $200 and $300.
    Since they were not in your original design and didn’t appear in the drawings you saw you should expoect to pay for them if you add them.

  54. Stephanie, February 3, 2020 at 11:41 am:

    Our Greenfield cabinets are being installed with a light rail which is substantial. Where there is a sink and window, we have two cabinets on each side. They don’t have an end panel. The designer at the store says they don’t typically put those on when there is a sink. It fits right in because flush with light rail.

  55. pmcalary, February 3, 2020 at 10:18 am:

    Hi Carmen,
    Top cabinet doors must align with bottom cabinet doors so they can not be square.
    The spice pull outs would catch fire being so close to the burners. With the pull outs you would need a 78″ hood to be safe and also remember that when the spice pullout come down to the countertop you lose working space at the range.

    You obviously need a good kitchen designer. If you are working with someone that suggested a hood that would set your house on fire please find a better person to work with.

  56. Carmen, February 2, 2020 at 9:05 pm:

    I love your article and suggestions and pictures that illustrate your points so well! I have two questions… one is, does it matter if the upper stacked cabinets are not square? I see in your link that they are wider than they are tall (12″ tall). Is it optimal to have 12″-14″ width as well so that they look more square? This would restrict the width of the lower set of cabinets, e.g. double cabinets would then only by 24″ or 28″ wide. We have 108″ ceiling and are looking at 32″ wide double cabinets, meaning each door would be 16″. So the uppers would be 12″ high by 16″ wide.

    Second question is in the horizontal direction, regarding the width of the range hood. The range is 36″ and the wall it is on is 15’6″ wide. I wanted to have a wide range hood as I’ve seen this in photos and it makes a lovely focal point. How wide do you think it is safe to go? We were thinking of having two 12″ spice racks on either side of the range, so their combined span would be 12″ + 36″ + 12″ = 60″. Would a 60″ wide range hood dominate the space too much? We are currently looking at 48″ to avoid being too assertive with the width.
    Thanks for your time!!!

  57. pmcalary, January 15, 2020 at 9:29 am:

    We would normally do 36″ bottoms and 12″ top cabinets for full overlay cabinetry. and maybe 34″ bottoms and 14″ tops on inset cabinetry with a 9′ ceiling. The size of the stiles and the rails on the door style also affect what you do here.

  58. Judy, January 14, 2020 at 7:57 pm:

    Sorry! Disregard the duplicate. She suggest 33” cabinets with a 14” cabinet on top. Thanks

  59. Judy, January 14, 2020 at 7:55 pm:

    Thank you! I agree 46” looks odd. What do you suggest? My contractor and cabinet builder doesn’t think so but I disagree. In this case what choice would I have but to do stacked cabinets? She suggested 14“stacked over 33” stacked over 33”. Thanks

  60. pmcalary, January 14, 2020 at 9:42 am:

    Hi Judy,
    These kinds of questions require a floor plan and drawings to comment on effectively. In general, 46″ cabinets would be a odd and expensive height for both a single door and a top and bottom door on a kitchen with a 9 foot ceiling. Never do soffits unless you are creating a tray or coffered ceiling.

  61. Judy, January 14, 2020 at 8:43 am:

    Hi, we building a new home and are supposed to sign off on cabinets this week. Our ceilings are 9’ and our cabinet builder has drawn 46” cabinets. I see you say never go over 42”. Would you suggest small uppers or a soffit or something to fill in between the cabs and crown molding? Also I suggested to her I would like a recessed frig so on that wall which is 9 1/2’ long, there is a 21” base cab with counter, a cab with a built in microwave next to it and a stack of drawers underneath with doors over the microwave, so no counter top. Next to this is the frig. She is suggesting build the microwave out with the frig instead of the cabinet that has the counter and the counter will then line up with the microwave cab instead of the actual cab lining up. This is all to make the frig look more recessed but the frig doors will still be protruding out. Should we line the actual cabinets up? This would mean the counter would protrude past the microwave cab 1 1/2 inches. Please help!! And thanks

  62. pmcalary, December 17, 2019 at 5:40 am:

    Hi Kristi,
    Every design is different. Good kitchen designers weigh a thousand trade offs when designing a kitchen. This is why thinking you don’t need a good kitchen designer when you are remodel a home is a mistake. What works best in your home is too complicated to answer with a generalization.

  63. pmcalary, December 17, 2019 at 5:35 am:

    Hi Kristi,
    If you are getting white shaker cabinets a cabinet line such as Fabuwood would cost less look better and be just as durable. For Maple, Cherry, Hickory and other wood species, or for unusual door styles, finishes, and cabinet sizes a more expensive line like Kraftmaid makes the most sense.

  64. Kristi, December 16, 2019 at 11:36 pm:

    Responding to a previous comment you stated “21″ wide doors are a little wide to usually look the best. As a designer I try to keep doors as close to 18″ wide as possible. That width door looks and functions best.” Please explain further. Does this apply only to the cabinets that flank a window? Are you suggesting a 27 in cabinet would look better as a 12 and a 15 in cabinets?

  65. Kristi, December 16, 2019 at 11:23 pm:

    We want to replace our 15+ year Kraft maid kitchen with simple Shaker style cabinets. Are we wasting money by using Kraftmaid again since we won’t be needing many of the numerous options that are available?

  66. pmcalary, November 24, 2019 at 3:31 pm:

    Sure but find a good designer firs. They can better help you.

  67. pmcalary, November 24, 2019 at 3:30 pm:

    Hi Susan,
    I’d recommend Kraftmaid from a private dealer and not a home center. Kitchens are too complex to give you any comment without seeing your design.

  68. Grace, November 24, 2019 at 10:04 am:

    Thanks for the quick response. Is still ok to put crown moulding between the cabinet top and soffit? What are you suggestion?

  69. Susan M., November 24, 2019 at 9:08 am:

    good morning! Thank you for this article. It is a God send!
    You’ve already answered so many of our questions, as we redesign our circa 1988 kitchen. You have corrected two very WRONG recommendations we’ve received. Thanks again! 🙂 My two questions are simplistic: #1- we currently have a large kitchen table but are considering adding a 6′ long island (w slide in stove/oven unit)- but is there ever a reason to “leave” a kitchen stable (and not get an island?). (our kitchen also serves as main entrance into the house. #2: What do you think of Big Box Store cabinet brands versus custom? We found a style we like in Kraftmaid, and can save $$ (3K) over custom made by local cabinet maker. Struggling with this! Thank you!

  70. pmcalary, November 24, 2019 at 8:09 am:

    Hi Grace,
    Once you get within say 9 inches of the ceiling with cabinetry and molding you must go all the way to the top. Small spaces look terrible and created places impossible to clean and so unsanitary. You will accumulate a lifetime of dust, dust mites, and who knows what on top of your cabinets when you leave a 4″ gap. Here’s a blog on the topic:

  71. Grace, November 24, 2019 at 8:01 am:

    Hello! Need help what to do with our kitchen design. New house, 9 ft ceiling. Plan was to have a 4 in gap from from crown molding to ceiling. Just found it, they put a 12 inch soffit that would just leave us 42 inch cabinet. Any suggestion?

  72. pmcalary, November 20, 2019 at 11:10 am:

    Hi Jake,
    Unfortunately nearly every kitchen we measure can be improved while many customers assume incorrectly that there isn’t much room for improvement.
    This is because they are not professional kitchen designers and as Doug Mottershead says in our video below: “People just don’t know what they don’t know”
    Watch the funny video below:

  73. Jake, November 20, 2019 at 10:37 am:

    The standard 10X10 kitchen has been around forever and full utilizes the functional triangle at its best. Why wouldn’t we just replace the the cabinets utilizing the same design?

  74. pmcalary, November 20, 2019 at 8:32 am:

    Thanks Brian.

  75. Brian, November 20, 2019 at 12:05 am:

    This article is awesome! It packs in so much useful information and does so in a clear and concise manner. Thank you for taking the time to share you knowledge and insights!

  76. ITSAdmin, October 31, 2019 at 9:32 am:

    The cabinet layout would depend on the layout of the whole basement. 42″ wall cabinets with a stacked crown to the ceiling is what I would use in a room 102″ high. Base cabinet height is always 34 1/2 inches. If you are creating a rec room with a second kitchen area it would look nice to be designed in a bar style. If you could fit a 42″ high bar in front of the cabinetry on the wall it would give you seating and a less kitcheny look.

  77. bryan, October 30, 2019 at 4:16 pm:

    Hello, I am working on finishing my basement and I am interested in professional thoughts into what would look best for a kitchenette. I will have approximately an 8 to 9 foot long wall with 102″ ceiling. I would like to have a full size fridge on the left side (up against another wall) and then about 5′-6′ of space left. I am not sure of what size of cabinets to go with on the base and upper. any thoughts appreciated on this would be great

  78. ITSAdmin, October 29, 2019 at 7:23 am:

    Hi Felix,
    Your kitchen designer sound very inexperienced.
    Here are your answers:
    1) yes always
    2) Yes always
    3)Sounds very bad to me. Either level the ceiling or use a two piece crown to reach the ceiling. Eve 36″ cabinets and a 9″ stacked crown, but never leave a gap
    a) if ceiling is within an inch of level across room I still use 42″
    b)Two piece crown never soffit
    4) too little info to answer

    My best advice is a to find a better kitchen designer

  79. Felix, October 29, 2019 at 12:51 am:


    I read your tips and some of these are great.

    I want to get your opinion for my custom kitchen design.

    I have 102″ ish ceilings.
    1) 36″ floor to countertop
    2) Is it still modern to have 18″ above the countertop to the top cabinets?
    3) Right now the uppers are 42 ish as per design and I read your comment that there is not much choice for this height of ceiling. My house is old so the ceiling is slopey and so the custom kitchen designer recommended 3″ gap above the crown molding. That doesn’t sound great to me

    a) Would you change the 42″ to something lower (lose space?)
    b) Would it be sufficient to somehow fill the part above the upper cabinet with a 2-3″ soffit and crown molding it or skip it.

    4) I have a small kitchen of 80-100 square foot, how many bottom cabinet drawers would you recommend

  80. Tim, October 11, 2019 at 4:32 pm:

    De-Funkifying is definitely the goal! Thanks for the input and speedy reply!

  81. ITSAdmin, October 11, 2019 at 2:31 pm:

    Hi Tim,
    For a 104″ high ceiling 42″ wall cabinets would be fine with a 2 piece crown molding reaching the ceiling.

    However it is incredibly important to work with a very good kitchen designer particularly in your case. That is when a past homeowner renovated a space in a “funky” way. As good designers our mission is to “De-Funkify” peoples homes. The good news is that if the kitchen designer can create a more normal looking and functioning design the value of your home will increase far beyond the cost of the renovation. While redoing something “funky” could be valueless.

  82. Tim, October 11, 2019 at 1:31 pm:

    We’ve got an early 1970s ranch style home. If you are familiar with this, they often came with sunken living rooms. A previous owner remodeled to a great room concept and put the kitchen in the sunken living room. It sounds weird, and it kind of is:), but it isn’t too bad. It currently has 30 inch uppers with a large space above. I was considering 42s with crown to the ceiling but after reading previous posts wonder if this is bad. The ceiling height is 104″ so I’m wondering what you think. The room is roughly 13X16 with diagonal corner entry. For the most part, due to a large picture window, it is an L kitchen with a separate pantry wall.

  83. Sean, September 25, 2019 at 6:25 pm:

    Hi Paul,

    You’re not throwing another part of the sheet off because you’re only laying out one part of the sheet for the seam. We were discussing making an L top wider. So you have the long run come out of one sheet and then you have another sheet with two long edges to use giving you 24′ to line up a 25 1/2″-42 1/2″ (peninsula, half wall) seam. This has been a solved game for years. I’m not trying to argue with you guys and I also fabricate stone so I understand what you are saying in regards to matched slabs.

    Thank you for your time in writing a response, this will be my last comment because I don’t want to derail this any further. You should definitely talk to your Corian rep about this. You could be missing out on some great design opportunities.

  84. Paul McAlary, September 25, 2019 at 5:23 pm:

    Hi Sean,
    Then we disagree. I don’t think good seams can be created on the very bold and big patterns. If you are sliding sheets down to match a big pattern you will find that as you align in one place you become unaligned in another. With natural stone since the sheet bellow is almost identical to the one above seaming these large patterns works better.

  85. Sean, September 25, 2019 at 4:48 pm:

    Hi Admin,

    Width to width is easier to do than lengthwise. Lengthwise you only have the depth of the sheet (30″) to play with. Extending the width on an L shape is much easier because you have more room due to lining up the seam using the longer sides of the sheets. You can slide the sheets back and forth until you find a suitable area to seam. This is the first thing we do when laying out veined Corian.If you would like me to email you examples of what I’m talking about I will happily do that.

    Number corresponding sheets only have up charges if you order them in half sheets. All the fabricator has to do is request number match sheets when placing his order and the distributor will load the sheets accordingly.

    I love the site and I have learned a lot here but this is one of the major selling points of using Corian so I just wanted to comment on it. Thank you for your response.

  86. ITSAdmin, September 25, 2019 at 4:05 pm:

    Hi Sean,
    Interesting. I will ask our Corian rep next time we speak. This would seem very difficult to do and the I would assume that getting these consecutive Corian sheets would be very expensive. The fact that you are only considering the top extending in one direction makes me less confident in your information. The issue usually occurs on a L shaped countertop when the width of the Corian sheet is too short and a seam that is required would be width to width and not length to length.

  87. Sean, September 24, 2019 at 5:46 pm:

    10 ) Highly grained man made quartz and Corian countertop patterns such as the beautiful Cambria Brittanica can not be seamed inconspicuously. These type patterns only work on tops without seams.

    Hi Mainline,

    This is incorrect for Corian, Corian can be seamed inconspicuously in these colors. If you’re talking about a top that is more than 144″ (length of a corian sheet) you can order the sheets in such a way that the next sheets veining will lineup within a 1/16″ usually. If your fabricator cannot seam tops deeper than 30″ you need a different fabricator. I love the site it is very informative but this detail is off a bit.

  88. ITSAdmin, September 15, 2019 at 5:22 pm:

    Hi Marie,
    There is no question that you MUST do 36″ wall cabinets with an 8 foot high ceiling. Not only should you save thousand of dollars on cabinetry but it looks better and without a flat piece to disguise however out of level your ceiling is you would most likely have had serious installation problems with 39″ wall cabinets.

  89. Marie Rabenda, September 15, 2019 at 5:14 pm:

    Your blog was so helpful and I so appreciate the time you have given to help us design our kitchens. We only have an 8′ ceiling so my first thought was to go 39″ but then the contractor would only have enough room for a 2″ crown which seems skimpy….we wanted a 3″ crown. So now he is suggesting a 36″ cabinet with a furniture grade filler piece and a crown…I’m so frightened to make a mistake with these white shaker cabs…which one would you suggest look best? Thank you

  90. ITSAdmin, September 12, 2019 at 3:02 pm:

    Hi Danielle,
    This is a great question.
    If you do 30″ cabinets and a two piece crown molding to the ceiling you could save as much as 30% or more on the cost of your kitchen because 33″ is a custom size.

    If you choose to use the 33″ cabinets then your ceiling must me leveled BEFORE the cabinets are installed so that the cabinets with a single piece of crown will reach the ceiling without showing the ceiling to be out of level. So you will need to also pay to level the ceiling.

    When a lot of work and money is involved I would usually rather save the cabinet money and use the 30″ cabinets but spend extra money on removing walls or soffits. Or moving doorways or windows to get a better kitchen design. Even buying a new kitchen table or replacing the floor you were trying to keep and save on, would be money better spent than the the slightly nicer but much more expensive 33″ cabinets.

    Here is a link to an award winning kitchen we did with 30″ wall cabinets and 5 1/2″ crown moldings:

  91. Danielle, September 12, 2019 at 2:20 pm:

    I have 90″ ceilings. Should I get 30″ cabinets or 33″? The 30″ leaves 6″ of space for crown which seems like a lot. I’m afraid it will look unbalanced, but I’m not sure as I’ve never seen a similar example.

  92. ITSAdmin, August 26, 2019 at 1:06 pm:

    No that would be a very bad idea. You must either get the custom size of 33″ high wall cabinets or use 30″ wall cabinets and 8″ of crown moldings. For a very contemporary kitchen you could re-level the ceiling and probably just use filler on top of the cabinets instead of a crown molding and use 36″ wall cabinets.

  93. suresh, August 26, 2019 at 12:37 pm:

    For a 92 inches ceiling height can I choose upper cabinets of 36 inches height and have 2 inches space for crown moulding to fill the gap between ceiling and top of the upper cabinets?

  94. ITSAdmin, August 11, 2019 at 5:02 pm:

    Hi James,
    You should never create a space that is impossible to clean. It is a health risk to your family, collecting dust and dust mites for decades until the cabinets are removed. For this reason your cabinet molding must reach the ceiling. The white molding can die into a transition block between the two moldings Here is a photo from Houzz

  95. jim, August 11, 2019 at 4:37 pm:

    Hi,I wanted to run 3 inch crown moulding around my entire kitchen but my cabinets are only on two walls, the wall crown would be white,my cabinets are chocolate glaze with a 3 inch crown,that leaves me only 4 inches of space above my cabinets for wall crown, this would be too little of space above my cabinets from what I have been reading,so is there a wsy to have crown moulding around entire room with my cabinets touching the ceiling,my ceiling is 102 inches tall,thanks

  96. james mcgourn, August 11, 2019 at 4:36 pm:

    Hi,I wanted to run 3 inch crown moulding around my entire kitchen but my cabinets are only on two walls, the wall crown would be white,my cabinets are chocolate glaze with a 3 inch crown,that leaves me only 4 inches of space above my cabinets for wall crown, this would be too little of space above my cabinets from what I have been reading,so is there a wsy to have crown moulding around entire room with my cabinets touching the ceiling,my ceiling is 102 inches tall,thanks

  97. pmcalary, July 17, 2019 at 6:24 am:

    When molding goes around cabinets cabinet sides need to be made flush with a 1/4″ skin or a 1/4″ piece of scribe molding cab be used to fill the 1/4″ gap. If your ceiling is 1″ that out of level you need to fix the issue to some degree. Building up that corner 1/2″ with shims and skim coating with plaster to reduce the difference 50% would make the issue much less noticeable. Your contractor sounds like he or she is inexperienced so that could be hard for them to accomplish successfully. Searching these issues on Youtube could bring up some videos to held your contractor.

  98. Dea Baldwin, July 17, 2019 at 4:38 am:

    Appreciate your suggestions. have 8 foot ceiling and new 36″ cabinets. Added filler and crown, but do not like the filler sticks out on the sides. Can the filler be built to be flush with the side cabinet? Also we have one 48″ run of cabinets and the ceiling is high at the corner making the filler and crown off by 1″ if up to the ceiling. To you have suggestions to remedy this? Thanks

  99. ITSAdmin, June 19, 2019 at 8:32 am:

    It really depends on the design. If there are a number of narrow wall cabinet doors in the design 42 inch wall cabinets can look worse than 36″ high. With ten foot high ceilings there are so many options that can look good. Certainly paying for custom or high priced semi-custom cabinetry is a waste if you are not going to the ceiling because you could have probably gotten less expensive well made cabinetry and stacked cabinetry to the ceiling for the same price. Building a tray ceiling so that cabinetry with moldings reach the tray is also a better look than leaving it open above cabinets. These kinds of decisions are why you need to work with a good kitchen designer. Getting the best bang for the buck especially with 10 foot high ceilings is complex and will never be possible without all the design and pricing knowledge that the most experienced kitchen designers can put in perspective for you. Talking to builders or architects about these issues is above their level of expertise. Even less experienced or less talented kitchen designers will have trouble weighing the options here.
    Remember whatever your budget the amount you are spending on the kitchen is coming from the same pot. Splurging on expensive appliances, cabinetry, countertops, and other purchases has far less impact on the beauty of your kitchen and the value of your home than a good layout and design. Less experienced people mistakenly don’t appreciate design and so can only focus on colors and purchases.

  100. Jennifer Connors, June 18, 2019 at 9:42 pm:

    So what height uppers do you recommend for a 10’ ceiling? I can’t afford to go all the way up but thought 36” would look silly

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