Kitchen cabinets are one of the most important elements that define the look and functionality of your kitchen. With the wide variety of sizes, styles, and configurations available today, choosing the right kitchen cabinets can be an overwhelming task. One of the first decisions you’ll need to make is whether to go for standard or taller-than-average cabinetry.
Tall kitchen cabinets, sometimes called ceiling height or floor-to-ceiling cabinets, refer to cabinets that are taller than the standard 54 inches. They typically start around 84-96 inches high and can go all the way up to the ceiling. Going with taller cabinets opens up all sorts of cool design possibilities and provides some unique benefits over standard sized cabinets.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about tall kitchen cabinets, including:
- Benefits of installing tall kitchen cabinets
- Things to consider before getting tall cabinets
- How to incorporate tall cabinets into your kitchen design
- Pros and cons of tall cabinets
- Cost of tall vs standard kitchen cabinets
- Best practices for installing and using tall cabinets
By the end of this guide, you’ll be well-informed to decide if choosing taller cabinetry is the right decision for your kitchen remodel or new construction project. Let’s get started!
Benefits of Tall Kitchen Cabinets
Here are some of the biggest advantages of going with taller cabinet heights:
More Storage Space
One of the biggest perks of tall kitchen cabinets is the massive increase in storage capacity. With the extra vertical space, you can store so much more. Tall pantry cabinets and tall cabinets with adjustable shelves give you the flexibility to store larger platters and bulky appliances with ease. The only limit is your ceiling height!
High Visual Impact
Tall cabinets make a dramatic style statement in any kitchen. The soaring cabinetry creates a sense of grandeur and feels expansive compared to ordinary cabinetry. It brings lots of character and visual interest to your cooking space.
Easy Access to Top Shelves
Standard kitchen cabinets put the top shelves too high to reach comfortably. With tall cabinets, the top shelves come down to a lower, more accessible height while still providing plenty of usable space below. This makes the upper areas much easier to organize and access on a daily basis.
Excellent for Empty Wall Space
Have an awkward, empty wall space? Tall kitchen cabinets are perfect for making use of the excessive wall space. Floor-to-ceiling cabinets can fill the vertical area, reduce the look of a high ceiling, and provide ample storage and display space.
From angled cabinets to unique finishes, tall cabinetry allows for all sorts of customization options. You can create a truly personalized, one-of-a-kind look for your kitchen.
Bright, Airy Aesthetic
The tall heights give a light and airy look and feel to the kitchen by drawing the eyes up. This makes the space feel more open and expansive.
Things to Consider Before Getting Tall Cabinets
While tall kitchen cabinets offer some cool benefits, they aren’t necessarily right for everyone. Here are some important considerations before committing to taller cabinetry:
First, check that you have enough ceiling clearance to accommodate tall cabinets. They are typically around 84-96 inches, but can be even taller with especially high ceilings. Make sure there’s ample room to fit the taller cabinets without looking crammed.
Taller cabinets use more materials and require more customized work. This equates to a higher price tag. Be prepared to spend 15-20% more compared to standard sized cabinets.
Ensure that your kitchen appliances, like the fridge, dishwasher, and range will still fit properly underneath tall cabinetry. You may need to adjust the cabinet heights accordingly.
Ambiance and Lighting
The tall cabinetry can make a kitchen feel dark if natural light is limited. Proper lighting and reflective surfaces become especially crucial. Consider adding more windows, skylights, or increasing artificial lighting.
The top shelves of floor-to-ceiling cabinets can be difficult to reach, even with a step stool. Make sure the contents up top are not things you need daily access too.
With the tremendous storage capacity, tall cabinets run the risk of becoming overloaded. Take care to evenly distribute weight so the cabinets don’t become top-heavy and unsafe.
Standard countertop heights at 36” may look disproportionate next to tall cabinets. You’ll likely need to increase the countertop height as well.
How to Incorporate Tall Cabinets into Your Kitchen Design
Once you’ve weighed the pros and cons and decided tall cabinets are right for your kitchen, it’s time to incorporate them into the design. Here are some tips:
Select Strategic Locations
Consider the kitchen layout and workflow when selecting locations for tall cabinets. They work best placed against a wall or empty corner space, not breaking up the main workspace. Popular spots are near the fridge, flanking the stove, or housing a pantry.
Contrast with Standard Cabinets
Mixing tall and standard cabinetry adds visual interest to the kitchen. Use tall cabinets as a unique focal point against a backdrop of regular cabinet heights. For example, try a tall pantry unit or refrigerator surround.
Complement the Architecture
If your kitchen has high ceilings, make the most of the vertical space by extending cabinetry up towards the ceiling. Crown molding and extra trimwork along the top will complement the soaring heights.
Repeat Cabinet Footprint
Maintain a cohesive look by using the same cabinet box dimensions and face frame for both standard and tall units. Simply stack another cabinet box on top or extend to the ceiling.
Consider Open Shelving
Leave extra breathing room underneath extremely tall cabinets by eliminating the lower doors. Opt for an open shelf design so the space doesn’t get too closed off.
Increase Countertop Height
To align with tall cabinets, consider raising countertops to 42 or 45 inches. This creates better sightlines and ergonomics when working at the taller cabinets.
Add Ladder Rails
Install rollout ladder rails inside corner units and other deep, hard-to-access tall cabinetry. This provides safe access to items pushed towards the back.
Incorporate Interior Storage Solutions
Take full advantage of all the vertical real estate. Include pull-out shelves, vertical dividers, multi-tier drawers, and other space-saving storage additions.
Pros and Cons of Tall Kitchen Cabinets
Let’s recap some of the key advantages and disadvantages of installing taller cabinetry:
- Increased and more flexible storage capacity
- Makes a bold visual statement
- Easier to access top shelves
- Customizable to any ceiling height
- Creates an airy, expansive look
- Perfect for filling awkward vertical space
- More expensive than standard cabinets
- Can make room feel dark and closed in
- Top shelves still difficult to reach
- Need to accommodate appliances and fixtures
- Require more customized labor
Cost of Tall vs Standard Kitchen Cabinets
So what’s the damage for going tall with your kitchen cabinets? Here’s an overview of how the costs stack up against standard sized cabinetry:
- Tall cabinet boxes: Roughly 25% more than standard sized boxes, starting around $200 per box
- Tall pantry and appliance cabinets: Typically 30-50% more than standard versions
- Extra material costs: More wood, veneer, and hardware needed for larger sizes
- Increased installation fees: Added labor for custom measurements and fitting tall cabinets
- Total tall cabinetry cost: Approximately 15-20% more for full kitchen compared to using all standard sizing
But keep in mind, the cost increase may be well worth it for the dramatic style impact, custom look, and abundant storage space tall cabinets deliver. Doing a hybrid of standard and tall sizes can help keep costs down while still achieving the soaring aesthetic.
Best Practices for Installing and Using Tall Cabinets
Here are some top tips for seamlessly integrating tall cabinets into your kitchen:
- Have an expert take careful measurements to calculate needed cabinet heights.
- Use filler material or trim pieces to fill any gaps at the top of the cabinets.
- Anchor tall units securely to wall studs, especially upper cabinets.
- Distribute weight evenly and avoid overload top heavy items up high.
- Open shelves and glass-front cabinet doors create an airier look.
- Consider pull-out shelves or rollout racks to access back areas.
- Install interior organizational systems to maximize vertical storage.
- Use ladder pulls on upper doors/drawers for easier opening.
- Task lighting inside the cabinets illuminates the contents.
- Crown molding and extra trimwork adds character along the top.
Tall Kitchen Cabinets: In Summary
Tall, floor-to-ceiling kitchen cabinets provide a custom luxury look while opening up storage possibilities. But they also come at a higher price point and involve careful installation. When planned strategically, tall cabinetry can transform an awkward, cramped kitchen into a spacious culinary showplace. Utilize this guide to determine if tall cabinets are the right choice to achieve your dream kitchen design.
FAQs About Tall Kitchen Cabinets
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about tall kitchen cabinets:
How tall are tall kitchen cabinets?
Tall kitchen cabinets typically start around 84-96 inches high. However, they can be even taller with extra high ceilings, reaching all the way up to the ceiling. The standard cabinet height is around 54 inches for reference.
How much extra storage space do tall cabinets provide?
Going from standard 54 inch to 84-96 inch tall cabinets gains you an extra 30-42 inches of vertical storage space. That’s the equivalent of adding roughly 2-3 extra feet of standard cabinetry in height.
Can you put tall cabinets everywhere?
It’s best to be strategic with tall cabinet placement. Focus on areas out of the main work triangle flow, like corners, walls, and housing appliances. Avoid breaking up the central prep and cooking zone too much.
Should tall and standard cabinets be different colors?
Not necessarily, though using different colors or finishes can help the tall cabinets stand out as a distinct design feature. Maintaining the same color and style promotes a cohesive, uniform look.
What’s the best way to access tall cabinet top shelves?
Rollout shelves, interior ladders, or pull-down shelves make top areas more accessible. For floor-to-ceiling cabinets, eliminate the upper doors entirely to open it up. Stepladders can also be helpful for temporary access.
How high should countertops be next to tall cabinets?
For a seamless look, increase the countertop height to match the taller cabinets. A good standard height is 42-45 inches high. But you can also do a small backsplash to bridge the difference if needed.
Do tall cabinets cost more than standard cabinets?
Yes, tall cabinets typically cost 15-20% more for the full kitchen. The material, labor, and installation costs are higher because they require more customization. Going with a hybrid of standard and tall sizes can help lower costs.
Are there height restrictions for tall kitchen cabinets?
The only real height restriction is your room’s ceiling clearance. Make sure to leave a small gap between the ceiling and tops of the cabinets for molding or crown trim. Standard tall sizes are 84-96 inches, but can be even taller if ceiling height allows.
What are some good organizational systems to use for tall cabinets?
Pull-out shelves, roll-out racks, vertical dividers, drawer inserts, multi-tier wire baskets, lazy susans, and interior ladders are all great ways to optimize and access storage in tall cabinets.
How deep should tall kitchen cabinets be?
Standard kitchen cabinet depths are around 24 inches deep. For tall units, consider doing shallower depths like 18 or 21 inches for easier accessibility to contents in the back. But you can do standard depths as well.
Tall kitchen cabinets are a great choice for making an eye-catching design statement while enjoying the benefits of increased storage capacity. Evaluate your kitchen layout and existing ceiling height to determine the best placement for tall cabinets. Take care to organize the interior and distribute weight properly. With good planning and strategic installation, tall cabinetry can add a stunning architectural element and custom look to your cooking space.