Kitchen cabinets play a crucial role in any kitchen design. Not only do they provide essential storage space, but they also define the aesthetic of the room. For many homeowners, tall kitchen cabinets are an attractive option that offers both form and function. This comprehensive guide will explore everything you need to know about tall kitchen cabinets, from pros and cons to design ideas and installation tips.

What are Tall Kitchen Cabinets?

Tall kitchen cabinets refer to upper cabinets that are taller than the standard height of 30 inches. They typically start at 36 inches and can go up to 48 inches or even higher with custom options. The extra height provides additional storage space while creating a dramatic, vertical look in the kitchen.

Tall cabinets make excellent use of high ceiling or high wall space. They are available in standard depths of 12 or 24 inches like regular cabinets. The most common widths for tall cabinets are 30 or 36 inches.

Benefits of Tall Kitchen Cabinets

There are many benefits that make tall kitchen cabinets a popular choice:

Increased Storage

The prime advantage of tall cabinets is the abundance of storage space they provide. With 12 to 18 inches of additional height compared to standard cabinets, you gain a considerable amount of storage volume. This allows you to stack plates vertically, store large pots and pans, and fit bulky small appliances. The extra space makes it convenient to organize supplies and reduce countertop clutter.

High Visual Impact

Tall cabinets make a dramatic style statement in any kitchen. The vertical lines draw the eyes up and make the space appear larger and more open. The tall height emphasizes high ceilings, while the abundant storage keeps countertops clean from clutter. This creates a streamlined, upscale aesthetic.

Improved Ergonomics

Tall cabinets improve ergonomics in two ways. First, the additional height puts frequently used items within easy reach. No more stooping or stretching to access what you need. Second, less clutter on counters creates more usable work surface for food prep and cooking.

Flexible Storage Options

The interior of tall cabinets can be outfitted with a range of storage accessories. You can add pull-out shelves, spinning lazy susans, dividing racks, or roll-out trays. This allows you to customize the space to suit your exact storage needs.

Considerations for Tall Kitchen Cabinets

While tall cabinets have some clear benefits, there are also a few things to keep in mind:

Need for Sufficient Ceiling Height

To comfortably accommodate tall cabinets, you need ceiling height of at least 8 to 9 feet. Standard ceiling height is 8 feet. In kitchens with low 7 to 8 foot ceilings, tall cabinets may not fit or will feel overpowering.

Reaching Top Shelves

The upper shelves in tall cabinets can be difficult to reach, especially for shorter adults and children. This may require use of a step stool to access items. Pull-down shelves are one solution to increase reach.

Weight Distribution

Tall cabinets place more weight at the top portion of the cabinet. This may require additional reinforcement of wall studs. Improper installation can increase risk of cabinets pulling away from the wall.

Visually Overpowering

In a small, narrow kitchen, very tall cabinets can feel dominating and closed-in. Proper layout and mixing with standard height cabinets can help strike the right visual balance.

Design Ideas for Tall Kitchen Cabinets

Tall cabinets offer many possibilities to create a custom kitchen design. Here are some ideas on integrating tall cabinets:

Flanking the Range

Position tall cabinets on either side of the stove or range to create a focal point. The vertical lines draw eyes to the range area. You can store cooking tools and supplies in the cabinets for convenient access.

At End of Runs

Install a tall cabinet at the end of a horizontal run of cabinets. This maintains the streamlined look and takes advantage of unused space near corners. Use for food storage or small appliances.

Mixed with Standard Cabinets

Incorporate just a few tall cabinets mixed in with standard height cabinets. This prevents them from feeling overpowering while still adding style and storage. Put tall cabinetry only in zones where you need the storage capacity.

Paired with Open Shelving

Balance out tall cabinetry by integrating open shelves either above or next to them. The open and closed storage provides visual contrast. Tall cabinets for enclosed storage, shelves for frequently used dishware.

Accenting an Island

Add a tall cabinet to one end of a kitchen island to create a focal point. Use glass doors to show off attractive dishware. Or create a built-in refrigerator cabinet.

Pantry Storage

Take advantage of the abundant vertical storage in a tall pantry cabinet. Perfect for organizing food packages, baking pans, or small appliances. Add pull-out shelves or roll-out trays.

Installation Tips for Tall Kitchen Cabinets

Proper installation is key to getting tall cabinets to fit right and function well in your kitchen:

  • Carefully measure ceiling height and plan cabinet layout on paper before installing.
  • Have cabinets professionally installed, as the tall weight can make them tricky to hang and secure properly.
  • Reinforce walls with additional studs at tall cabinet locations during rough framing stage.
  • Use filler material or soffits to fill gaps between tops of cabinets and ceiling.
  • Install durable shelves and roll-out trays to maximize vertical storage space.
  • Position frequently accessed items at medium height within cabinets for easy access.
  • Install lighting above or inside tall cabinets to illuminate top shelves.
  • Add glass doors to some tall cabinets to reduce the imposing look.

With proper planning and design, tall kitchen cabinets can be a functional and beautiful addition to any kitchen. Take advantage of the high storage capacity while creating a cooking space with customized style.

Frequently Asked Questions About Tall Kitchen Cabinets

Many homeowners have questions when considering tall kitchen cabinets. Here are answers to some of the most common queries:

How tall are standard kitchen cabinets?

The standard height for base kitchen cabinets is 34 1/2 inches. Standard upper cabinets typically measure 30 inches tall. Some may go up to 36 inches.

What is the standard height for tall kitchen cabinets?

Tall kitchen cabinets start at about 36 inches high. Standard widths are 36 or 42 inches wide. Depths are usually 12 or 24 inches. Custom sizes can be created.

How high should tall kitchen cabinets go?

Ideally, tall upper cabinets should be 6 to 18 inches below the ceiling. In standard 8 foot ceiling rooms, cabinets up to 42 inches high work well. With 9 to 10 foot ceilings, cabinets may go up to 48 inches or higher.

Are tall kitchen cabinets hard to install?

Tall cabinets are harder to install than standard cabinets. Their increased height and weight puts more strain on the wall. Proper reinforcement of wall studs is crucial. Hiring a professional installer is highly recommended.

Do tall kitchen cabinets make a room look bigger?

Yes, in most cases tall cabinets create an expansive, airy look that makes kitchens appear larger. The vertical lines draw the eyes up to the high ceilings. Less clutter on counters also contributes to a more open look.

Should you put tall cabinets on both sides of a stove?

Having tall cabinets flanking both sides of a range or stove is an excellent use of space. It draws attention to the functional cooking area. Be sure to allow proper clearance for range ventilation.

How deep are most tall kitchen cabinets?

The standard depth of tall kitchen cabinets is either 12 or 24 inches – the same as regular cabinets. Deeper cabinet depths of 24 inches provide more storage capacity. But 12 inch depths can work well in smaller kitchens.

Should I put tall pantry cabinets all the way to the ceiling?

For maximum storage, pantry tall cabinets can extend fully to the ceiling. Be sure to allow space for molding or crown trim along the ceiling line. Filler panels may be needed to fill any gaps above the cabinets.

How far apart should tall kitchen cabinets be spaced?

Standard spacing between tall cabinets is 36 to 48 inches, depending on traffic patterns and room size. Allow at least 42 to 48 inches if the space between cabinets serves as the main kitchen walkway.


With their abundant vertical storage and eye-catching style, tall kitchen cabinets can be a smart and stylish addition to your kitchen. Take the time to carefully assess your space and storage needs. When thoughtfully designed and properly installed, tall cabinets create a customized kitchen that both looks and functions beautifully. Explore the many possibilities that tall cabinetry can bring to your cooking space.