For YEARS I've been planning to build our cabinets up to the ceiling. We picked them out more than 11 years ago and went with the shorter versions rather than taller. I knew that tallest shelf would be too high to reach and I was trying not to spend any more money building this house. :)
We did have crown and if you have basic cabinets I think it makes a HUGE difference. You can see here where I had taken it down to build in the fridge -- it was still up on the left:
That's a super effective way to make your cabinets look a little more high end.
I still would have done this project even with the taller cabinets. I love the look of built ins and building them up to the ceiling just feels more custom to me.
So here's the thing, I didn't use any fancy tools to build these boxes. They were so crazy basic -- no pocket hole jig even. If you will see the sides of a piece you definitely need to use that, but for these (and the box I built to extend the island), I just use screws:
I didn't even use glue (I've learned adjustments may need to be made later). Those who build for a living are probably cringing. :) But these won't be touched much at all and the boxes are strong! My point is, you don't need a ton of tools or a workshop (your kitchen floor is fine) to do things like this. All you need is some wood, a drill and a dream. ;)
The hard part of every project like this is figuring out the sizing of the boards to make the boxes. I spend most of my time perfecting that. I stand with a tape measure and notebook and draw pictures of what I want to do and end up scratching most of it out before I get to the final. It's how I work it all out in my head. About an hour later I'm ready to have wood cut.
I have all my pieces cut down at Lowe's -- I didn't do them all at once this time because I was checking sizing as I went. That is SUCH a wonderful service and I don't mind at all that they've started charging for more than a few cuts. It's well worth it to me!
I built one box at a time and placed them up on top of the cabinets:
Your cabinets are built to hold quite a bit of weight so don't worry about that -- I later screwed them into the studs above (and to each other) so that took most of the weight off.
I built actual boxes -- if you are really good you could build the entire piece and then put it up there. You could build one big box with one piece of wood separating each section, but I knew I wanted to mimic the look of the bottom cabinets with trim so I wanted the sides of these to be thicker. I hope that makes sense!
I waited till I had the three installed before I started the cabinet above the fridge. It doesn't go all the way back but I wanted it to go back enough so that I could attach it to the one next to it. It's also screwed into the stud on the wall and into the cabinet below:
I was already in love!! My husband and child were just humoring me at this point, nodding and saying, yeah it looks greaaaat. Trust!
We had about two feet of space above our cabinets and I made these 16 inches tall. I was adding a header above and didn't want it to be too thick. I also didn't want the cabinets to be too tall either, I thought that would look at little off since our uppers are a basic size.
Next I had to prep for the header piece. I screwed some scrap wood into the beams in the ceiling for the header to attach to at the top. I didn't get a good pic of this but you can see a piece of that sticking out behind the header to the right in this pic:
As you can see, after that was secure in the ceiling I was able to attach my header to that and the cabinets. I used a 1x10 piece of wood for this part.
Also, I didn't remove the crown to put these up -- I knew I could cope new pieces in so that saved me a ton of time. I just notched out a corner in the header so it would fit over the existing crown.
Next were the finishing touches -- this is my favorite part because things start to come together! I added some trim along the bottom:
And then I added the vertical trim to mimic the look below:
I was getting really excited at this point!
I made the header thick because I have crown and trim that I needed to continue around this part. That takes up about five inches of it. Also, I will be adding lighting inside the cabinets and that will run along the back of the header. This gives me plenty of room to add that and have it hidden.
I was working on a deadline here -- I am a procrastinator through and through. I've had weeks to get this done but I work best when I HAVE to get it done. The counters are coming this week and I wanted to get everything up high done that I could.
I finished up the fridge cabinet and started adding more trim to hide the rough stuff:
Here's a shot of how that's coming together:
It's hard to see there but if you look close you can see how I added the small trim along the top that goes around the rest of our great room. It's an easy way to make your crown look extra chunky.
Here's another shot before the crown was started:
And here's how it's looking with the crown (that I had help with, I'm not great at coping yet):
When everything is painted it will look exactly like it did in my head all these years. Paint will come last though, so for now I'll just enjoy. :) As of right now I'm not planning to add doors but that may change. If I do they will have glass fronts. I may add one more piece of small trim where the old and new cabinets meet up -- I'm going to wait on that too.
I used some extra wood leftover from the fridge enclosure so that helped a ton with costs. I ended up spending maybe another $100 and that includes trim. I would have paid hundreds in labor if we had hired it out.
If you have a large space above your cabinets like us, I recommend making them additional upper or open cabinets. If you have less space you can just add the header and close the whole thing up. With a lot of space like we have that would be too big of a header.
Next up -- fill nail holes and caulk like mad. :) Then I'll get the cabinets prepped for the lights and the paint will happen next month. I'm doing that last because I don't want to chance messing it up during the renovation. Other than painting the cabinets this was the last big DIY project in the reno so I feel like I'm over a huge hump! Yay!!
If you have any questions or if I missed anything please let me know! Have you attempted this project in your home? I know many of you have been thinking about it!