Last updated October 6, 2023
Let’s talk about that space above your kitchen cabinets for a second. You know, that useless space that does nothing but collect dust and cause design dilemmas. Do you decorate it? Leave it? What if there was a third option where that space disappears completely? Something ultra budget-friendly that makes your kitchen more beautiful AND more functional?
Here’s the good news: option three is entirely feasible. Check out this before and after…
How much better does that look!?
Here’s more good news. You don’t need to be taking on an entire kitchen remodel to raise your cabinets, and you don’t need to be an expert DIYer to make it happen. All you really need is a screwdriver, at least two sets of hands, and some determination.
HOW TO RAISE YOUR KITCHEN CABINETS
Step One – Remove your cabinets
I know this sounds scary (like you are ripping your house apart), but to remove a cabinet, you literally just have to unscrew some screws.
Make sure you have at least two (or more) people for this. One person will unscrew the screws, and another person (or people) will be holding them up, so they don’t come crashing off the wall.
Step two – Raise the cabinets and screw them back into the wall
After the cabinets are down, then you get to put them back up, only higher.
A few notes on reinstalling your upper cabinets-
- You need to make sure that all the screws are going onto studs, so the cabinets are secure. This should be pretty simple though, since they were previously screwed into studs at the lower height. If you raise the cabinets directly up, you will be able to hit those same studs. Use a level and stud finder to verify this.
- One problem you may encounter is that the cabinets were previously screwed in from the top, outside of the box. Now that they are so close to the ceiling, you won’t be able to access that area. Instead, you will screw to the wall from the inside of the cabinet. Your cabinets should be reinforced along the top two inches or so; that is where the screws need to go. Make sure you screw every single screw into the reinforced area of the cabinet AND into a stud. If you don’t, your cabinets will come crashing off the wall when you add weight to them.
- Verify that your cabinets are level before attaching them to the wall. Using your ceiling as a guide isn’t a good idea…ceilings aren’t always flat, even if they look it.
- Don’t push the cabinets all the way up against the ceiling, you need to leave room for moulding. We left about an inch gap between the top of the cabinets and the ceiling, and used a 1×2 as moulding. If you are planning to use thicker moulding you will need a larger gap between the cabinets and the ceiling.
And that’s it, your cabinets are now touching the ceiling. Hallelujah!
The bad news is that once your cabinets are securely back up on the wall, you will be left with something lovely and patchy, like this…
Step three – Make it pretty
There are a couple of things you need to/may want to do to make it look custom and amazing.
First, figure out what to do with the patchy spot that was left after moving the cabinets. This could be as simple as painting it if you don’t have a backsplash, which is what I did in the laundry room. If you have a tile backsplash, this could mean adding more tile. Or you could leave the tile as is, add the shelf (we’re getting to that), and paint above that shelf. There are no rules here, just do what feels right!
My husband and I ending up planking the entire kitchen and dining room, including the backsplash. Click to below to read that tutorial.
After you have figured out the backsplash situation, add your moulding to the gap between your cabinets and your ceiling. We used a 1×2 piece of trim for this.
Skim the underside of the cabinets (optional)
When you raise your cabinets, suddenly the ugly underside becomes very exposed. If your cabinets are wood, this might be a non-issue. We had recently painted our cabinets though, and it looked terrible.
You can keep it simple and just paint the underside, but we took it a step further and covered the whole cabinet underside with a thing sheet of plywood.
After securing the plywood, you just caulk and paint and are good to go!
Ok, I lied…you’re not quite good to go, because now there is a massively awkward gap between the countertop and the upper cabinet. So…
HOW TO ADD A SHELF BELOW YOUR CABINETS
There are so many different ways you can make shelves, and the way we did it is just one super easy way to do it.
First we hung up a wood strip (screwed into studs) as a support for the back of the shelves…
Then made the shelves out of two pieces of MDF glued together.
Why MDF? It’s cheap, mainly. It also doesn’t bow like plywood, and since it doesn’t have any grain it looks really nice painted. We used two pieces for strength and to mimic the width of the face frames on the cabinets.
Next, we added hardware and daisy chained them to the top cabinets (more info in THIS POST).
And there you have it! Here is how my kitchen looked after all the final sanding, caulking, and painting was finished.
And here is the finished laundry room. This project was much smaller but still a great before and after.
Hopefully this tutorial gives you the confidence to tackle this project, because raising your cabinets is such a cheap and easy way to customize and update your kitchen!
Some extra information – The shelf in the kitchen is 18 inches off the counter, and the bottom of the shelf to the bottom of the cabinets is 10.5 inches. We have standard 8-foot ceilings. If there is something I forgot to cover then leave a comment and I’ll get you an answer!
Looking for more budget-friendly kitchen remodel ideas? Click the links below!
Kitchen Remodel Links
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