If you have a gap between your kitchen cabinets and the ceiling, then you might well be wondering how to fill this space. Decorating above kitchen cabinets is a wonderful way to fill the space with an attractive feature, rather than just letting it gather dust.
Whether you prefer a classic look with lots of detailing or something more modern, these decorating above kitchen cabinet ideas will provide you with the inspiration you need to create a scheme that fits your home's period, your decorating style and the room's proportions.
Decorating above kitchen cabinets – 10 ways to add interest
We asked the experts for their top decorating above kitchen cabinet styling ideas and tips. Adding them to your list of must-have kitchen ideas will ensure a more charming space, and needn't drive up your budget, but will create a unique room you, and your guests, will want to spend time in.
1. Use an accent color above cabinets
‘An accent color above eye level is a simple way to add strong contrast to a room, without overpowering. As it’s not immediately noticeable, the accent color will draw the eye up for a visual surprise,’ says George Miller, home designer, Neptune (opens in new tab). ‘This can have particularly good results in rooms with taller ceilings or grand cornicing, accentuating either feature to great effect.’
Continuing the kitchen color idea across different surfaces and planes – for instance, the cooker hood here – has a blocking effect that feels modern and can help smooth out any awkward architectural junctures.
2. Enhance the visual interest
Bring a little joie de vivre to your kitchen by decorating with art above cabinets and shelving. Many would argue that art belongs in the kitchen just as much as it does any other room, and we can't help but agree.
Here, interior designer Jessica Summer (opens in new tab) sets the scene with earthy tones and plenty of texture. ‘The cabinetry is minimal and contemporary to allow the materials above to stand out, but also to balance the traditional features like the antique butcher’s block and open shelves,’
3. Take paneling to the ceiling
Add interest to the space above a kitchen cabinet with wall panels. In period properties, wall paneling ideas that match or complement the original style and architecture of the property are a wonderful way of marrying old with new. Alternatively, in a plain kitchen that is lacking decorative details or any original architecture of its own, adding a paneled area is a clever way of bringing character to a featureless space.
Here, tongue-and-groove paneling, linen curtains and wall-hung storage all contribute to a French country kitchen feel in this space designed by Charlotte Crosland (opens in new tab). Keeping your batterie de cuisine in view and close to hand via magnetic knife blocks, utensil racks and pot stands adds to the laid-back, ‘unfitted’ ambience. Decorate with typical brocante finds like chic vintage china, enamelware and artwork inspired by country pursuits.
4. Fill the space above cabinets with objects you love
'Colorful kitchen ideas have been enjoying rather a renaissance, and we’re seeing brighter colors on walls, cabinets and even ceilings,’ says Emma Bulmer, head color consultant at Edward Bulmer Natural Paint (opens in new tab). ‘The colors and color combinations being used are also becoming more creative and confident.'
Use the space between cabinets and ceiling to really make your space sing. 'An absence of top cupboards really opens up this kitchen, allowing the dusky pink paint color and artwork to add character and personalize the space.’
5. Raise your game
The sky – or in this case – the ceiling is the limit when decorating above kitchen cabinets. On maximizing the potential of statement ceilings, architectural practice SPPARC has the drop.
‘Ceiling ideas featuring interesting shapes and materials can be used to achieve an articulation and rhythm with architectural features elsewhere – in this case the floating stairs that lead from the kitchen to the living spaces above,’ says Trevor Morriss of SPPARC (opens in new tab). Crafted from stained ash and oak, this chunky ceiling is certain to have everybody talking.
6. Decorate to delight
Put a performative and decorative stamp on a room with wallpaper ideas that delight the senses. Kitchen wallpaper ideas offer a beautiful way to decorate above kitchen cabinets – and there is a huge range of paint colors, as well as wallpaper and fabric patterns, to choose from. Traditional paper patterns, which were frequently inspired by nature such as here, are often block-printed in the same way now as when they were first produced. Classic motifs, such as botanicals, checks and stripes, are eternally popular, while also being particularly on trend at present.
Wallpapers made for kitchens and bathrooms are particularly durable, and we see many clients combining tiled walls with wallpapers to great visual effect – in fact, people seem to go bolder in the kitchen as it is a creative space,' says Paula Taylor, head stylist and trend specialist at Graham & Brown (opens in new tab).
7. Curate a smart display
Building a kitchen backsplash out into the room may be of more value to your kitchen than the space it initially takes up. Here in the kitchen of Roddy Murray, founder of interior design practice RJ Murray Design (opens in new tab), is a marble kitchen backsplash providing clever cubby-style kitchen storage within, as well as creating a shelf above to display the couple’s favorite pieces of crockery and kitchenware.
8. Light the way
When decorating above kitchen cabinets it can be all too easy to forget about kitchen lighting. However, a few LED strips can go a long way in the kitchen, bringing shelving to life and dialling the mood to relax. The most sophisticated solutions are completely hidden when the lights are off, which requires early discussions with your designer.
‘It is essential to ensure that the LED strips are properly set into recesses within the shelves or cabinetry,’ explains Mark Holloway, managing director, Kitchens By Holloways (opens in new tab). ‘Angling them at 45 degrees, back towards the wall, will achieve the best lighting effect and prevent garish reflections or visible fittings.’
9. Introduce decorative elements
The whole purpose of interior design is to create decorative room ideas that answer the needs of the individuals living in them while reflecting their personalities with good design, and that is just what Jake Arnold (opens in new tab) has achieved here.
Careful consideration of materials and their placement has the ability to transform your existing kitchen ideas into a decorative room that is truly spectacular. The kitchen of this Californian home is anchored by the carefully-chosen decorative objects above the kitchen cabinets. These materials add interest yet they don’t compete nor do they overpower the room of this size.
10. Install a gallery wall
Unexpected as it may seem, we are seeing more and more people experiment with beautiful gallery wall ideas in the kitchen. Now this may not seem like a most sensible space for displaying an expensive art collection, done right, it could be your most admired.
If you are dedicated to the cause, then we suggest taking your gallery wall above the backsplash, or perched on a shelf away from the kitchen sink or stove. However, it is imperative that you speak to a specialist framer before doing so. ‘Objects you might not notice, such as kettles and toasters, can cause damage,’ says Daniel Syrett, Runway Gallery owner. ‘If the artwork is going to go in a kitchen it needs to be sealed in a particular way.’
Is decorating above kitchen cabinets outdated?
The short answer is no. There are so many beautiful ways to decorative above kitchen cabinets that will inject modernity, textural interest and decorative style to your kitchen.
There are many interesting kitchen styling techniques and designs to chose from. First and foremost, you should focus on what you love, whether that be certain colors, patterns or textures. Next, think about how these elements can work together to create a harmonious scheme that is bursting with decorative flourishes.
If you are not planning a full revamp, then art and ceramic objects are the perfect place to begin adding color and pattern contrast to the space above your kitchen cabinets.
Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.
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