Closing the Space above the Kitchen Cabinets

How to cover the empty space above kitchen cabinets

From the beginning of the whole kitchen renovation, closing this gap was one of my priorities and now even more because I had to conceal the hood ducting.
This is how the kitchen looked before:
How to close the gap between cabinets and ceiling

I followed what I believed was the most practical and economical way for me to do it.  It doesn't mean it’s right or wrong, it has worked for me and that’s why I’m writing about.
I just screwed long pieces of wood(1"x 2") on top of the cabinets, and on the ceiling (to the ceiling joints, using anchors when needed).  They have to be aligned to the cabinets, but be aware of the thickness of the front board when taking your measurements. The front board has to be flush to the front of the cabinets.
Oak cabinet ready to being close above and up to the ceiling.

I used ½” MDF to close this space, the same material I used to cover the front and sides of the hood, it’s excellent for painting.
Builder's grade kitchen updated by closing space above cabinets
Here you can see the pieces of wood screwed to the ceiling and
one screwed on top of the cabinet (still missing one piece to the bottom left)

MDF and moldings are used to cover space above cabinets

DIY how to cover the space above oak kitchen cabinets

This picture below shows you how I tried to get the most out of a single 4’x 8’ sheet of MDF.  Since I don’t have a table saw at home I always ask for the long pieces to be cut at the home center.  At Home Depot they usually do it for free on week days, if you go on weekends is a different story.
After it was closed:

Added moldings completed the look

This is how the kitchen looked at the end of the total makeover.

This is how it looks today after painting the kitchen island a lighter color, updating the range hood and opening some of the cabinets.

That space was just 12" height from the top of the cabinets to the ceiling, if you have a space grater than 12" a good alternative would be to give it the look of "open cabinets" as I did in my Laundry Room HERE,

Or as Morgane from Bear, Dolly and Moi did.

But if you're dealing with a soffit or fur down, you have to check Kaylor @ Fisherman's Wife Furniture, she made the soffit look like part of the cabinets. Brilliant!

You can also check Crazy Gorgeous, she did a similar job by bringing the cabinets all the way up.

You can also click on the next links for:
How to add moldings to your kitchen cabinets
how to paint the cabinets.
Install a marble backsplash.
Add moldings to your kitchen cabinets 
Build a range hood.
Build a fridge enclosure.
Update the kitchen island
Tips about installing recessed lights
Final kitchen reveal
Kitchen cost breakdown
1 ½ Year Later How the Kitchen is Holding up
Build-in Plate Rack
Pull Out Shelves in Pantry
LG Appliances Review and Complain




  1. Ah! Finally, someone who solved my design dilemma! You just made me your official new follower. This is amazing and beautiful. Thank you for the post with pics! If I stay in this house long enough, I'll be using this.

  2. Stunning transformation! I just discovered your site today, and I'm obsessed! I really want to give my 16 year old kitchen a facelift. My first estimate for a complete redo from a construction company was $70,000! GASP! Still waiting for a couple more, but maybe, just maybe, I can do some of this myself.

    I love the level of detail and how clear your descriptions are. Thank you!!

  3. I love your remodel, it is so inspiring and I love your style! Now I want to buy a house with ugly oak cabinets so I can do this!

  4. Wow!!!! I too have been searching for ways to deal with the dreaded open space... This is perfect and something I can easily accomplish... Now, if I can just figure out the easiest way to relocate the ice maker supply line with a finished basement making the least amount of drywall damage... Oh!!!! but for the moment, you have greatly made my day!!!! Thank you so much... for keeping it simple and showing the pictures as you went along each step... I truely am a visual learner...

  5. Thank you for this article. That’s all I can say. You most definitely have made this blog into something special. You clearly know what you are doing, you’ve covered so many bases.Thanks!

  6. Great blog. You are such an inspiration. I am about to tackle the same exact issue with my cabinets.

    How did you deal with the corners? Did you have to do anything special or you just squared off the mdf?

  7. Thanks a lot Cheryl! Nothing special was done to the corners, I simply squared them off. The mdf edge can be seen, I tried to smooth it out the best I could, in the end, it doesn't bother me that much. You can see a close up pic (the first one), of the corner above the fridge in this link:

  8. I have been looking and looking and looking for the exact same solution - my cabinets are the same way, and they collect so much dirt and junk up there - ugh! thank you so much for sharing how you did this!!!!!! Now, I just have to get up the courage to do the same. Thank you! I'm a new follower!

  9. I found this on pinterest...whoa!Is there anyway you can give me an estimate of how much it cost you to close the tops of your cabinets? We just bought a home with the space open above the kitchen cabinets too and they look so blah!I absolutely loved the transformation in your kitchen! You did great! If there is anyway you could give me a rough estimate, I would be ever so grateful! my email is Thank you

  10. Jamie, If your kitchen isn't that big, I think you only need to buy one sheet ½" MDF (around $30), and moldings, crown and wall moldings. The total I guess would be something around $100 if you diy and have the tools. Oh, you'll also need screws, anchors and paint.
    You can check the entire kitchen cost break down here:

  11. I am in LOVE with your kitchen! I have 24" above my cabinets and am thinking about raising the the cabinets 6" then boxing in the 18". Not sure if it will look odd though. I am not really wanting open shelving all over even though I love your laundry room! Thanks so much for sharing! I can't wait to attempt to do it to mine!

  12. Beautiful! and You did a great Job. Do u Mind telling how high is the ceiling? is it 9' or 12'?
    thanks in advance

  13. and how much gap did u have above the cabinets to begin with.? thanks

  14. and one last question. what size are the cabinets(height) and how much space between countertop and cabinets? thanks

  15. The gap was 1-foot. The cabinets are 42" high and the space between the countertop and the cabinets is 18".

  16. Cristina, I am following your example and am doing the exact thing to my cabinets right now. How did you attach your MDF to the trim pieces on the ceiling and the ones on the top of the cabinet? Did you use a nail gun or pin nailer?

    1. Yaay you're gonna love it! ;) I used a nail gun. I have a set that I keep on using for all my projects. You can see them right here:

  17. Thanks Cristina! We had to do a "hybrid" attachment with the nail gun on the ceiling trim pieces and Liquid Nails on the bottom trim pieces. Every time we tried to use the nail gun on the lower pieces, the impact of the nails going in kept pushing the trim away from the edge of the cabinet, even though we back nailed everything. So far, it seems to have worked great. Now on to caulking and some finishing touches before tackling the decorative trim. Whew, I'll be glad when this is done!

  18. Hi Cristina, great tutorial! I was just wondering could you please describe what you did to the range hood cabinet?

    1. Thanks Jeremy! You can check what was done to the range hood cabinet right here:

  19. Can you share what types of moulding you used? Alot of the tutorials I am finding just have plain wood with crown moulding on top to ceiling which looks pretty obvious to me. Is that baseboard on the bottom? Thank you.

    1. Hi Sarah, the link to check all the moldings I used is this:

  20. What is paint color on cabinets?

  21. You did a beautiful job. I love it. I am thinking about updating my kitchen, then I found your site.


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