Q. We are planning to do some kitchen remodeling in the next several weeks and I am stewing about how to manage a particular problem. The existing kitchen cabinets are great and good looking so I do not want to change them, besides new ones would be thousands of dollars more that I do not want to spend. The problem is it is open above the wall cabinets, and I do not like it, all it does is collect dust and I do not use the space for anything. I have asked how this could get closed in. My contractor suggested to remove the upper cabinets and frame and drywall soffits for the cabinets to hang from. This is so much additional work and expense. Are there any other options of which you can think? — Sam from Avilla
A. A couple of things need to be considered. Taking the cabinets down may affect other parts of the kitchen like a tile back splash; also consider if you have a corner cabinet or appliance garage. These things might have a cost to repair if the wall cabinets were removed.
Also, if the kitchen contains a floor to ceiling pantry or range hood, that could affect the amount of work that it would take to remove the existing wall cabinets and reinstall them.
I have experience with a kitchen remarkably like what you are describing. We did leave everything in place and made a wood panel that filled the space above the cabinet. We made it appear as a raised panel look by several layers of paneling and square stock wood material that was stained to match the existing cabinets.
Our problem was the existing cabinets were flush with the side wall ends, so we could not do anything that stuck out past the walls. We did add a wood crown molding around the ceiling and returned it to terminate into the drywall end walls. Where the wood was flush with the existing cabinets, we used a scrip molding to finish the natural look like it has always been that way. The kitchen turned out great.
Jeff Deahl is past president of the Builders Association of Northeast Indiana. Questions for the Square Corners column may be submitted to [email protected]