Here’s a real design debacle for you: what do you do with that little space above your kitchen cabinets??? Do you do anything with it? I had lots of questions about this space when I accidentally discovered the power it has to bring your eye upward (trust me it’s powerful). Let me tell you the backstory –– it all started with a bowl…
I live in a studio apartment that has about 5 kitchen cabinets total. It’s the perfect little space for my boyfriend and I, but there’s one little problem: we LOVE to cook and do it often. Well, that’s really just the root of the problem, the main issue is we don’t have enough storage for our pots, pans, and portable pizza ovens/grills (that’s a real thing). As birthdays, Christmases, and anything else that could possibly involve a gift comes around, our cookware collection grows stronger, better, and faster. While we love our huge collection of random kitchen appliances, we’re getting more and more desperate for storage. Well 2 months ago it officially outgrew these 5 cabinets and we were desperate.
Here’s where the bowl comes in. We realized we didn’t have a good, big salad bowl (and we love making big salads as full meals) so I thought, no worries I’ll grab a big, deep, bowl for our salad needs. I found a classic white one from CB2, brought it home, found a perfect spot for it in cabinet #3, went to shut the cabinet door and *CLUNK* the cabinet door was stopped in its tracks by my large bowl (and it was only about .3 inches from it shutting all the way). Have you been there before??? It’s demoralizing to say the least. So I did what anybody would do, I threw it at the awkward space above my cabinets because unless I wanted my bowl in my “bedroom” closet, I had NO other option. It was a “for now” kind of temporary solution until (to my surprise) I realized, “wait a minute I think I like this.” It IMMEDIATELY brought my eye upward (which in a small space is beyond critical. So I started throwing random items up there like it was basketball season. It was a whole new world of opportunity. I could have tall, wide, long items up there that would have never fit inside my cabinets in 1 million years. PLUS the space felt BIGGER. Was I dreaming? I thought I was until…
Once I got all my random bowls and serving dishes up, I realized it looked like sh*t thrown together with no rhyme or reason. And the best part? I don’t know how to make it look good. So welcome to my design agony where we do what I love doing most…figuring it out with you guys 😉
Let’s start by doing some homework (FUN!!) aka collecting inspiration photos that will give us an idea of what’s been done before so we can copy, I mean recreate, the things we like. Let’s start with Emily’s kitchen in her first house:
Okay, let’s dissect why this works and what we can take away from this. There’s lots of artwork, which looks great because it adds a lot of color to an otherwise white space, and it can add some depth if you want to layer things in front of it. It offers height too, which if you have A LOT of space between the top of your cabinets and your ceiling like Em does here, then it fills up that vertical space really well. I want to incorporate more color into my styling, so this could be a good area to do that in. There are 2 other things I want to point out about this styling specifically: 1. the wood basket adds a lot of warmth and helps to sprinkle around a wood tone that would only otherwise be on the floor and the counter in that cutting board –– we love spreading the color palette around in a room and this is a great area to add more of the colors you already have (even if wood TECHNICALLY isn’t a color, you should treat it as such :)). The second thing I want to mention is that this above cabinet styling job is pretty minimal. Now I’m rethinking if I should style the entire wall of cabinets or if I should just do a small section like in these photos…what do you guys prefer?
Ah, I love this kitchen Orlando renovated for his parents (it’s sooo sweet). This is an interesting inspo picture because he was dealt an awkward nook card and he slapped it down, crushed it, and won the game. I like how he used a really minimal color palette in his decor, but kept the visual interest by adding in that really fun sculptural thing on the right…I don’t even know what it is but I love it and want it desperately.
Plants!? Plants. This photo definitely solidifies that plants can work above your kitchen cabinets and make your home feel like a cute little earthy greenhouse if you want it to. I’m not nearly skilled enough to keep this many plants up here because I would in fact forget about them and let them die (I’m not a good plant mom and that’s okay). I might opt to put one or two easy going plants like, I don’t know, a succulent?? Or maybe something that would make it feel a little more bright, happy, and just all around alive up there, but I don’t think I could physically handle this many…
Repeat One Design Element
We’re all about the power of repetition in a space, and this area seems to be no exception. This is an especially great option if you have a collection that you want to display. For example, this would be a great spot to display a collection of plates (my grandma has a plate collection and it’s very cute) or vases or even something like candle holders. Remember though, this is probably best if you’re looking for pretty over function and would be best served in kitchens that already had ample storage space for your needs.
Make It Your Cookbook Library
First off, I love the way they styled this…it looks SO effortless, cozy, and casual. It’s definitely making me rethink things. If you don’t have the space to stack your books vertically (I definitely don’t) then you can also stack them horizontally and incorporate them in with your cookware storage.
If you’re interested in taking a stab at styling above your kitchen cabinets, I thought I’d give you a little roundup of our favorite decor items on the internet right now to make it look the best it can look!
1. Chevron Flow Print | 2. Tara Serving Bowl | 3. Vintage Dough Bowl | 4. Colorway Pot | 5. Cake Stand | 6. Tobi Taper Candle Holder | 7. Pillar Sculpture | 8. Form Ceramic Candle | 9. Pool Party for Two | 10. Soft Shapes IV Framed Art Print | 11. Black Waxed Metal Vase Set | 12. Waverly Wall Mirror | 13. Wooden Hand | 14. Wicker Wall Clock | 15. Kati Stash Box | 16. Shaped Taper Candle – Set Of 2 | 17. Wood Chain | 18. Whitney Vase
My Next Steps…
These inspiration photos definitely got me thinking and I have a few key things I know I’m going to change after researching and writing this post. Now we’re all aware that due to the space limitations I explained in great detail before, I’m most definitely here for storage, so having some bowls and random vase storage up there is going to be critical for me (I’m really driving this storage point home). I’m thinking I should pair back a bit on the AMOUNT of stuff up there. For example, I probably don’t need 2 of the same pitcher styled directly next to each other like I have now (lol). So some rearranging and minimizing may be in order. The last thing I’m thinking about is incorporating more of my cookbooks up there (probably horizontally with a little box or something on them), just to break up the glass vase/bowl museum and give myself some more cookbook storage space (yup, that collection is growing quickly too). What are your thoughts?? Any wisdom or styling advice for this area before I take a real stab at making it look nice?? Thanks for reading and I’ll meet you in the comments below 🙂