How To Extend Your Kitchen Cabinets To The Ceiling On A DIY Budget

If you are looking to hide the gap above your kitchen cabinets, you may have researched multiple options. Some possibilities, like adding tiny cabinets over the existing ones, are functional. Other choices could be more aesthetically pleasing. For instance, if you are looking for an inexpensive option that looks great, you can make it appear as though you have extended cabinets without adding any storage space or doors.

TikTok user southernyankeediy demonstrates the benefits of creating these faux extended cabinets. Rather than redoing the entire kitchen and replacing everything, you can save on kitchen cabinets by not replacing them with taller units that go all the way to the ceiling. Having tall cabinets is a recently popular design style, and simply hiding the empty space above your cabinets accomplishes this look on a tight budget.

Because you're going to move the trim pieces above the cabinets and paint the new construction the same color as the doors, at a glance, the new construction will appear to be an extension of the storage space.  It will be obvious to anyone who looks closely that this space is not an actual extension of the storage area, because the doors don't extend over the added space. Still, this process can give you the same feel of a larger kitchen if the cabinets had extended all the way to the ceiling in the first place.

How to add a faux cabinet extension in your kitchen

To pull off this DIY project, you only need a few basic supplies, some of which you may already have on hand. You probably will need to purchase 3/4-inch high-quality plywood for about $55 for a 4-by-8-foot piece at Home Depot. Make sure that you have paint available that matches what's already on your kitchen cabinet doors.

If you have trim pieces at the top of the cabinets, gently remove them with a small pry bar (about $12 at Home Depot), as you'll need to reuse them. Use a stud finder to locate the ceiling studs. If you have some leftover 2x4 pieces from a previous job, you can reuse these to attach to the studs to save money. If you need to buy wood, though, you can inexpensively purchase 1x3 furring strips (about $2.25 at Home Depot) to the studs. Leave 3/4 of an inch to attach the plywood, so it will be flush to the front face of the cabinets. Attach more 2x4 pieces or 1x3 pieces vertically and horizontally above the existing cabinets, creating a makeshift frame to which you can securely attach the plywood. Cut the plywood to fit and attach it to the frame with a brad nailer. Add the trim you removed earlier along the ceiling. You may need seam trim or paintable wood filler between the top of the cabinets and the plywood. Then paint everything to match the existing cabinet color.

What are the pros and cons to hiding the space above kitchen cabinets?

Should you spend the time and effort to cover the gap above the kitchen cabinets? If you struggle to keep this area free from dust and cobwebs because of the height and the awkwardness of trying to reach it, enclosing it keeps this type of debris out of the space. Enclosing the space by making it appear as though the cabinets go to the ceiling gives your kitchen a custom look, and certainly does not give the impression that the homebuilder purchased standard-built cabinets. Finally, most people can do this project as a DIY job as long as they have a little bit of woodworking experience, which saves money over purchasing taller cabinets to install, which can cost about $6,000 on average.

A major disadvantage of simply enclosing this space with faux extended kitchen cabinets is that you lose access to this space for storage. Some people use this space to store decorative items to add a sense of personal style to the space. You also can use this space to stash items you don't use all that often, like a picnic basket or large jars that simply don't fit easily inside the cabinets. If you have recessed lighting near the space above the cabinets, you may not be able to enclose the space without cutting off these light sources or causing odd and harsh shadows.