Shannon Berrey

How to add height to your kitchen cabinets

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I shared the transformations that my kitchen has gone through in yesterdays post. If you remember, this is where I started.

And this is what it looked like as of last week.

I felt like the height of the upper cabinets looked out of proportion with the tall ceilings and visually cut the space. What I really wanted to do was to add another cabinet on top that would go all the way to the ceiling. But there were 3 problems--1} one of the recessed lights would be cut in half if the cabinet went all the way up and the light could not be moved 2} building these would require a *real* carpenter and not our DIY skills and 3} our budget was $0. yep, zero.      

As much I would love to have the storage that more more cabinets would allow, I realized that it wasn't going to happen. I began to brainstorm ideas on how to add height so that it would at least look better, more custom.

Here's a simple trick that I use when I am in the beginning stages of a design. I use my computer screen like a lightbox and bring up the room that I am working on. You have to do this in a dark room. I put a piece of paper over the room and then sketch my *change*.   

In this case, I added approximately 8" of height to the cabinets to see if that would give me the results I was after. I know it's a little hard to see, so here's a close-up.  


I really liked the added height and decided to get started! Luckily, I had 1 piece of 3/4" MDF {medium density fiberboard} left over from another project. This stuff paints beautifully and doesn't warp so it was the perfect material for this project. {fyi--a 4'x8' piece sells for $30 at Lowes}. 

Using a pry bar, we removed the molding off of the cabinets being careful to not to damage it {we would reattach this on our taller uppers}.

Once the molding was off, I sanded the top edge of the paint to knock down the thickness of the paint layers.

 We cut the MDF board lengthwise in to 10" strips on the table saw {If you buy your board from Lowes, they will cut this for you} Then we measured the width of each cabinet and used this measurement to cut each piece of MDF. We then took little scraps of MDF and used them as back supports. Using the nail gun, we nailed from the back of the cabinet into the scrap. 


Using wood glue on the bottom edge, we placed each piece on top of the cabinet and then nailed into the supports. 

     Here is all of the MDF in place 

I primed the MDF. You could do this before you attach them if you wanted.Then I used wood filler to fill in all the tiny holes made by the nail gun. Everything then got sanded lightly.

Then, this is where bad things happened. I blew the budget....we needed a tiny piece of molding to cover up the seam where the new board meets the old.  

I didn't have any in my *stash* so we had to buy it. bummer. I selected this one. We needed 3 pieces.

We cut the pieces to size, mitering the corners and attaching with the nail gun.

Then I gave it a coat of primer. The next step was attaching the {old} molding. I measured up from the  trim piece 7 1/2" and used a level to draw a pencil line all the way around the MDF. This was the line the molding would follow.

This was the easiest part because it was already cut to size and mitered {remember nothing has changed except the height}.  

Remember the piece over the window that connected the cabinets?



   Using the wood filler I filled more holes and then I caulked all of the attachments.

I sanded again and then painted everything -- 2 coats on the MDF and small trim and 1 coat on the  molding {it was already painted}.  

I already had the paint, primer and MDF. I did have to spent just under $19 for the small trim, BUT we had a $15 Lowes gift certificate!! So our grand total was $3 and change!! I think it's worth it!

 Obviously, the size of your kitchen would determine the cost of doing this. But, if we did have to purchase everything that we needed to do this, then it still would have been under $50.


I would love new countertops. {Why did they do that crazy shape on the island?} I would do a substantial overhang so that we could put stools around it. But, unless there is a vendor out there who wants to throw a little granite, soapstone, or concrete love at me, then these will have to suffice.  

I am going to make a roman shade that will attach at the molding level to *increase* the window height.  





Today is the last day to enter our giveaway for the sweet Vintage Jane tote. Click here for details on how to enter. I'll announce the winner tomorrow. 

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Shannon Berrey Bio
I'm an artist, interior designer, wife and mom. Join me here as I share projects, ramblings, and inspirations.
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