How to make use of the space above kitchen cabinets – 5 storage solutions to fill the 'dead space'

Make the most of your kitchen storage by mitigating wasted space

(Image credit: Tom Howley)

The top of cabinets are some of the most neglected storage spots in our homes, but their height and exposure make them tricky to use efficiently.

However, professional organizers urge us not to forget about this space completely. These forgotten spots are one of the best ways to maximize kitchen storage without new cabinets, it is just about how to use them effectively.

Here, the pros share the five best ways to use the space above cabinets without making a kitchen look cluttered and how getting it right can fundamentally change the flow of your kitchen.

How to make use of the space above cabinets

No matter the size of your kitchen, we never seem to have enough kitchen storage. This is where using the tops of cabinets can come in clutch to help improve our kitchen organization at very little cost. That being said, there are a few caveats to consider to make good use of this space, warns Amanda Scott, professional organizer and owner of Amanda Scott Home:

‘Short on storage space? The often dead space above your cabinets can be a useful place to store items, but you need to make sure the items stored up there make sense and are ones that won’t come toppling down on you while preparing dinner! Also, keep in mind this space can be an area that collects dust; so if you do store items in this space, make dusting part of your weekly cleaning routine and have a step ladder nearby for easy access.’

1. Use baskets and boxes

Woven storage baskets

(Image credit: The Container Store)

When organizing a kitchen, you can’t go wrong with baskets and boxes, begins Meaghan Kessman, professional home organizer at Meaghan Kessman Home Organization:

‘Elevate your storage and style with decorative bins and baskets. These not only conceal clutter but also add a touch of personality to your space,’ she says. ‘Opt for baskets that match or complement your decor to create a cohesive look. This method is perfect for storing items you don't need every day, such as seasonal decor, extra kitchen supplies, or rarely used gadgets.’

2. Keep kitchen decor at heights

Kitchen chopping boards against a wall with a pot of wooden kitchen utensils

(Image credit: Unsplash)

Kitchens should be, first and foremost, practical. They need clear counters for working and cooking, and organized cabinets to maintain food hygiene. That doesn't mean you have to cut all personality out of the space, however. The area above your cabinets is a great spot for kitchen decor that will spruce up the space without getting in the way, says Tina Priestly, home organizer and CEO of Ready, Set, REFRESH.

‘Don’t underestimate the power of aesthetics when it comes to the space above cabinets. You can use this area to showcase your favorite kitchen items or decorative pieces. Think vintage plates, colorful vases, or even potted plants. By curating a stylish display, you not only make the most of the space but also add a personal touch to your kitchen. It’s like turning a blank canvas into a work of art.’

3. Stow seasonal serveware

A spring setting tablescape

(Image credit: Rebecca Udall)

A common kitchen storage mistake is trying to keep your seasonal pieces mixed in with your everyday serveware and dishes. Not only do they get in the way and make our regular kitchen storage more difficult to navigate, but they also increase the chance of these items being broken or damaged between uses.

One of the best ways to mitigate this is to keep these seasonal pieces out of the way on the tops of cabinets, suggests Meaghan Kessman, professional home organizer:

‘Maximize space by storing lightweight and infrequently used items. The space above the cabinets is ideal for storing large serving platters, specialty cookware, or extra pantry items. Ensure these items are safely stored by using shelf risers or tension rods to prevent them from falling. Stow away holiday decorations, festive tableware, or even spare linens in labeled bins or baskets for easy access when the time comes.’

4. Make a show of cookbooks

Organizing cookbooks in a kitchen can be tricky, especially if you are working with small kitchen ideas. For those books you use less frequently, you can store them up on top of cabinets to keep them on display, suggests Barbara Brock, Founder & CEO of Barbara Brock Inc., a professional organizing and staging company:

‘If placing books, cookbooks, decorative books, etc. – any item that is flat – make sure they are stacked neatly, perpendicularly together,’ she recommends. ‘This suggests order out of chaos. Be sure to also avoid overcrowding the space. A few well-chosen items will look better than a cluttered assortment. Arrange items thoughtfully balancing height, color, and texture. Then, bring the inside in by putting in low-light plants to break up the scheme.’

5. Keep bulkier, lesser-used items out of the way

Tall blue kitchen cabinet with vases stored on top

(Image credit: Original-BTC)

While it is generally a good idea to avoid storing heavy items at heights to avoid them breaking and prevent injury when getting them down, the tops of cabinets can be a good spot for big items we use rarely, but still need to keep a hold of, such as vases and display pieces, says Michelle Poitras, founder and principal interior designer at Lucien Marie Design.

‘For those with large vase and pitcher collections, these items work well up high since they don't require regular access. Instead of hiding them in your cupboard, why not showcase them to appreciate the sculptural element they bring to the display?

‘It's important to break up shapes and forms when styling above an open cupboard, creating a balanced composition and avoiding over-cluttering the shelf is key,’ she adds.

The tops of cabinets are perfect places for storage, but, when decorating or storing items on the tops of kitchen cabinets, it is important to take some important safety precautions to avoid damaging yourself, your kitchen, or your belongings, concludes Meaghan Kessman, professional home organizer.

‘Always use a sturdy step stool or ladder to reach items safely, and avoid storing heavy objects that could fall and cause injury,’ she warns. ‘Secure items in bins or baskets to prevent them from toppling over and, if you are stacking items, place heavier objects at the bottom to maintain stability.’

Chiana Dickson
Content Editor

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for two years, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.