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Kitchen Design Tips Only the Pros Know!

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 kitchen design tips below. Inexperienced designers, architects, interior designers, and homeowners usually do not. This is just the tip of the iceberg for good kitchen design.

Below are our top 15 kitchen design tips:

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 the ceiling. Don’t create spaces that look odd and that can’t be cleaned.

Brown kitchen with island and radius corner countertop overhang


Molding too close to ceiling without reaching it.

2) Professionals avoid corner sinks because dishwashers and cabinetry open into where you stand at the sink and the countertop is much less functional.

Good designers also avoid double bowl sinks in favor of large single bowl sinks. Having a larger bowl to work in and being able to fit large pots, trays, and cookie sheets is more useful that a second small bowl. Double bowls are a convenience left over from a time BEFORE dishwashers.

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.

Kitchen with stained wood cabinets and an island


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. NO professional designed this kitchen!

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. This is why professionals use 36 vs 42-inch kitchen cabinets in a room that’s 96 inches high.

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 use 42″ high wall cabinets infrequently 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.


45" cabinets that go to the ceiling
45″ cabinets that go to the ceiling


9) Always upgrade to all plywood construction or at the very least make every exposed surface real plywood.

Particle board cabinets, besides being less strong, 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 cannot be seamed inconspicuously.

These patterns only work on tops without seams.

brittanicca kitchen with countertop with thick gray veining


Cambria Brittanica countertop

11) NEVER start 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.

Because of this, doing an uncomplicated design in a popular door style and finish, like a white shaker style, in an expensive cabinet line is just throwing money away.

13) Higher price level stone and man-made tops are not more durable, they only cost more because of their color and pattern.

Contractor measuring with a ruler

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 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 professional 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. All experienced kitchen designers know probably hundreds of kitchen design tips.

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:


Bon Appetit!

Paul, Julie, Chris, Ed, John, Lauren, Tom, Anna, Juliet, Camilla, and Mark

Main Line Kitchen Design.

126 Replies to “Kitchen Design Tips Only the Pros Know!”

  1. Sarah

    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?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  2. Tina

    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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  3. Chrysalis

    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.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  4. Thomas

    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.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.


  5. Karen

    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?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  6. Ms. T

    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!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  7. Paul McAlary

    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.

  8. Laura

    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.

  9. DiAnn

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  10. Melissa

    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.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  11. Karen

    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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  12. Stephanie

    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.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  13. Carmen

    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!!!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  14. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    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.

  15. Judy

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

  16. Judy

    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

  17. Judy

    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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  18. Kristi

    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?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  19. Kristi

    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?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  20. Grace

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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

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

  21. Susan M.

    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!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  22. Grace

    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?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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:

  23. Jake

    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?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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:

  24. Brian

    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!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Thanks Brian.

  25. bryan

    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

    1. ITSAdmin

      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.

  26. Felix


    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

    1. ITSAdmin

      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

  27. Tim

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

  28. Tim

    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.

    1. ITSAdmin

      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.

  29. Sean

    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.

  30. Paul McAlary

    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.

  31. Sean

    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.

  32. Sean

    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.

    1. ITSAdmin

      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.

  33. Marie Rabenda

    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

    1. ITSAdmin

      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.

  34. Danielle

    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.

    1. ITSAdmin

      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:

  35. suresh

    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?

    1. ITSAdmin

      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.

  36. jim

    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

    1. ITSAdmin

      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

  37. james mcgourn

    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

  38. Dea Baldwin

    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

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      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.

  39. Jennifer Connors

    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

    1. ITSAdmin

      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.

  40. John

    Those are 48 in wall cabinets in the picture. Judy is correct. I’m pretty sure the ceiling in that picture is at 108th in and there’s a 6 inch Crown so that would make the wall cabinets 48 in. Also look at the proportion of the cabinets on top of the refrigerator. And there’s nothing wrong with 42 inch wall cabinets. I’ve been designing kitchens for 25 years. I am not a fan of only using 12 inch cabinets I would much rather see 15 or 18 inch cabinets. I usually use one third proportion on the top cabinets it looks much better. Also keep in mind when you stack wall cabinets the price will increase significantly. Both in the price of the material and the labor if you’re hiring an installer.

    1. ITSAdmin

      Hi John,
      Looking at the refrigerator cabinets I think the answer may be that the ceiling is the unusual height of 105 and the cabinets are 45. However while using 18″ high cabinets is the most common size kitchen designers stack on top of 30″ below I would say that this is only because they don’t know any better. Using 15″ high and 33″ cabinets is better for inset cabinetry and 36″ and 12″ look better for most full overlay door styles. Of course in custom cabinetry tweaking the sizes becomes available.

      I have found that the better the designer the more likely they are to design this way.
      If you do the design both ways and show almost anyone the difference they won’t have to be a kitchen designer to select what looks better and that is NEVER the popular choice of 18″ cabinets over 30″ cabinets.

  41. Tsipora

    I just found your website and, Wow! You really put a lot into informing and helping people. I didn’t go through all your resources so maybe this is addressed elsewhere but I’m wondering what you’d suggest for upper cabinets height wise for an 8’ ceiling? I don’t like soffits and would love to have the extra space a taller or stacked cabinets would give me.
    Also, what would be your recommendation for a 9’ wide u kitchen with a 4’ window at the head of the u that is two feet from one side and three feet from the other. I was thinking of just putting uper cabinets on the two long sides of the u and none on the window wall. That will bring the front of the cabinet one foot from the window on one side but two feet on the other. Any ideas? I can’t move the window.
    Thanks for any comments!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Tsipora,
      First 36″ high wall cabinets should be used with stacked crown molding for all doorstyle except slab slabs. On slabs 39″ high wall cabinets could be used with a single filler reaching the ceiling if that custom hieght is available. Otherwise use 36″ high cabinets. 96 inch high ceilings are a foot too short to stack cabinetry.

      Design questions are too complicated without a floor plan. We give free advice Fridays 2pm to 4pm EST

  42. paul mcalary

    Hi Susan,
    Thank you for being so appreciative.

  43. Susan

    That is a brilliant idea!! Thank you so much. I don’t like wide doors either so I think an 18″ on one side and 18″ & 27″ on the other will look great. You have no idea how much I appreciate you taking the time to respond. Thank you!

  44. Susan

    My layout is very similar to the 2nd photo where it is pointed out that cabinets on either side of a window should match in size and spacing from window. I have one 21″ cabinet on right side of a window and on the left I need to line up the outer edge of wall cabinets with the outer edge of base cabinets (for backsplash). I have space for 45″ of cabinets so I would put two 21″. If I line up with the base cabinet edge, there will be 5″ of wall to the window and just 1.5″ on the right side. What would you do? I’d hate to reduce a base cab from 24″ to 21″ unless the window would look really “off”. Someone suggested a 3″ filler between the two 21″, but wouldn’t that look bad if all the other cabinets are full overlay? Thank you.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Susan,
      Without actually seeing your layout it is difficult to say. But I’ll take a shot.

      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. Less experienced designers and homeowners first instinct is always to grab every inch they can for cabinetry even if their kitchen looks worse because of it. In your kitchen I might switch the wall cabinet on the right to an 18″ wide cabinet this would leave the cabinet 4.5 inches away from the window, but you can then add a filler and a filler overlay between the 18″ cabinet and the cabinet right of it to bring the cabinet back to 1.5 inches from the window trim. Now on the left of the window start with an 18″ wide cabinet 1.5 inches away from the window trim and then use a 27″wide cabinet with a 1/2″ filler between the cabinets to line them up with the base. You now have the same amount of cabinetry and also no less desirable looking 21″ wide doors. Of course as I mentioned this is without seeing your design so I’m just throwing darts.

  45. Grace Lipson

    He doesnt sound unhappy to me, just interested in the subject matter. Maybe a hobby.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      When people correct us and mistakenly tell us they know better. And go out of their way to tell us that they don’t like one of our award winning kitchens. I wonder why they are spending time on our blog if they disagree with us and don’t like our kitchens.
      Sometimes people asking for advice first tell us that disagree with things we have posted. Why ask us for advice then if you aren’t taking and don’t agree with other advice we have given? Certainly we would never work with a customer that started a relationship with us this way.
      I never tell people I don’t like their kitchen unless I’m asked for a professional opinion. I visit friends and families new kitchens that we didn’t help with all the time and I simply smile and say things look great. Going out of your way to comment negatively on a kitchen from the company whose blog you are reading free of charge seems a bit creepy. Even if you are interested in the subject matter.

  46. Judy

    Actually those were not 42″ cabinets in that picture, they were 48″ and no I don’t think if it’s done right 42″ look silly at all. I am not a fan of the designer kitchen that won the award, designer or not it doesn’t look functional, are you against upper cabinets all around??

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      If you examine the distance between countertop and wall cabinets, which is 18″, and compare it to the size of the wall cabinet. Or you examine the wall cabinet over the counter depth refrigerator it should be obvious that the cabinets can not be 48″ high. Since I didn’t design this terrible kitchen it could be a couple of inches higher than 42″ and be a custom cabinet. What a waste of custom cabinetry. Paying extra to get a couple of inches of extra space on a 42″ wall cabinet that is already to big to be the most attractive size. Having such small crown molding with such a large cabinet demonstrates in another way that the designer here was incompetent.
      I’m not sure what kitchen you are referring to that won an award but you seem like an unhappy person with too much time on her hands.

  47. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    Yes a flat filler is usually used as a riser

  48. John

    That is a beautiful kitchen! I like the contrast b/w the gray cabinets and the white cabinets on the island. If we did stacked cabinets, would be there be any vertical frieze b/w the cabinet top and the crown molding? I guess you usually need some vertical piece to connect the cabinets to the crown to hide ceiling imperfections/not being level. Thanks for the ideas!

  49. John

    Would you please remove my last name from my previous post! Thanks!

  50. John

    Hi Paul et al,

    These tips are extremely useful. As a follow-up, I am wondering how tall you would suggest for wall cabinets if the ceiling is 108″. Our current cabinets are 41.5″ tall and are 12″ from the ceiling. Given that, would you think new cabinets could also be 42″? I was planning on installing a frieze board from the cabinet top to the ceiling, and then installing crown molding (also what you suggest). Would it make any sense instead to add another level of smaller cabinets (possibly with glass doors) on top of the 42″ cabinets? There is room (12″) but I want to have crown molding. But with 108″ ceilings, having glass door cabinets near the ceiling seems totally impractical and likely out of proportion. Thanks for your thoughts!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      For a 108″ ceiling what looks best is to stack cabinetry with 36″ high wall cabinets and 12″ high wall cabinets, often with glass doors in some of the small cabinets above. A stacked 6″ high crown molding goes on top reaching the ceiling. See photo link: If you can not afford to stack cabinets then I would still use 36″ high wall cabinets as the door sizes look more proportional than 42″ high cabinets and still use a 6″ stacked crown above leaving you an foot from the ceiling. We only would recommend a 42″ high wall cabinet for a ceiling that was around 102″ as there would be no better alternative.

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