Renovation Story

Remodel Woes: Kitchen Ceiling and Cabinet Soffits

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

We’ve owned and rented homes over the years with kitchen cabinet soffits, those boxy sheetrocked rectangles that take up space above kitchen cabinets. They’re a common element in many a subdivision kitchen built in the 1980s and 1990s and I’m not a huge fan of them, so in a remodel, removing them or disguising them is my first plan. 

Kitchen soffits as a drop down ceiling can serve a purpose, often it is to hide beams, wiring, and pipes but sometimes not; I’ve always preferred a kitchen ceiling the same height as adjacent rooms. Kitchen cabinet soffits are often space fillers, there are decorative ways to disguise or improve the look of them and there’s the more challenging architectural undertaking of removing them. It’s a topic on my mind this month since we’ve encountered a situation where we’re unable to remove the drop down soffit in our two ongoing kitchen remodels.

Here’s a view of the kitchen in Las Vegas from last fall before we removed the old countertop and cabinets and lowered the pony wall. It shows the drop down kitchen soffit above the footprint of the space which I wanted to remove so very much so that the kitchen’s ceiling was the same height as the adjacent family room and breakfast nook.

soffit vegas kitchen

We tore out part of the ceiling only to discover that a structural beam and water pipes ran through the middle of it, the soffit wasn’t there just to house the big box florescent light, it was the hub of all the electrical, plumbing, and structural support of the home which made me upset because I wished the architect of this subdivision had designed the home so that the beams and pipes lived in the subfloor instead, grrr. The cost and headache and permits were just too much to change it so instead we paid to repair the demo and live with a drop down ceiling soffit in this space.

The new lighting plan will help – we did remove the florescent light box and updated the lighting with recessed cans and pendants over the peninsula in December – new cabinets and countertops will also be a huge improvement.

Grandma’s kitchen remodel (below) is progressing but we hit a similar road bump when we discovered the drop down ceiling soffit couldn’t be raised because of structural issues running through the center of it. Strike Two. We had to delay the cabinet order so that the new upper cabinets fit the lower height and thankfully we caught the issue in time to not be charged for the changes, however again we are stuck with a ceiling that we originally anticipated raising to the same level as the family room. (See the “before” for this space here and the kitchen design plan here.)

grandmas kitchen progress

While our issue is one of a full drop down ceiling, I’ve been in plenty of kitchens with a similar issue of soffits that exist just above the cabinets (also called fur downs in different regions of the country). I went in search of kitchen spaces where soffits look good because they’ve been incorporated into the design plan of the kitchen.

This wood and white kitchen’s cabinet soffits are trimmed beautifully with molding so that they blend in with the upper cabinetry.

white trim kitchen soffit

authentic oak

Here’s another dreamy example in a favorite kitchen of molding used to enhance the soffits above the white cabinets.

white kitchen fiorella design

fiorella design

In this all white kitchen, the cabinet soffits are hidden by beautiful beams and part of the architectural plan from the start.

white kitchen wood floors plank ceiling with beams

 wendy resin interiors


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Home Remodel: Six Month Progress Report

Monday, January 12th, 2015

Last week marked the six month date of when we started remodeling the house we bought in Las Vegas, looking back we’ve accomplished a lot given it’s been a ‘back and forth across state lines’ process but we’ve loved every minute! From the beginning, we’ve approached this renovation as a full overhaul since the home had been neglected for years. Over the past six months we’ve made a lot of progress and done much to improve the interior to add value to the property. Everything needed fixed or updated and since we’re in town for limited periods of time, we’ve hired help to speed the process along.

The house is 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms and what we liked about it was situated in a desirable planned community (Summerlin for those familiar with Las Vegas). Our whole goal has been to modernize the home so that it’s fresh and contemporary and make timeless choices. While I’m injecting my personal taste I still want the home to appeal to a large market someday. We furnished it so that we can enjoy it while were there, saving us the expense of staying at a hotel or imposing on our family in the area. 

Let’s start in the entry… in the beginning there was old tile and dingy carpet on the stairs. We replaced the mismatched flooring and upgraded the lighting. The hardware and light fixtures were upgraded to ones with an oil rubbed bronze finish, a nice contrast with the white smooth textured walls. (Find the entry and hallway light fixtures from Lamps Plus here and here.)

entry before


entry after

We debated whether to carpet the stairs or refinish with wood treads, I prefer the latter but Matt pointed out that many families prefer carpet since wood and tile can be a slipping hazard with little kids. I had to agree, as much as I’m dying to add wood treads it made sense to carpet for now, if we had plans to keep the house for 5+ years I’d definitely add wood treads and white risers like we did years ago in our California home but for now it’s staying carpeted. The handrails is also acceptable so no plans to change that either.

In the living room (opposite the entry) we hired help to remove the second story popcorn ceilings and also hired help to retexture the walls. We removed the balloon window treatments, replaced the 25 year old windows, and replaced the flooring.

living room before


porcelain tile floors

In November we added plantation shutters, and I furnished with a sofa paired with thrift store chairs and also gave the coffee table a makeover to create a gathering space

gray sofa in living room


Here is the space we consider a bonus room when we bought the house, just off the living room and kitchen. It was originally considered a formal dining room but in my opinion better used as a home office. For now we refer to it as the “sunroom” since it’s a sunny space with a nice view of the backyard.

sunroom before

It serves no purpose other than storage for now, but I may stage it with a desk in the future. It has new tile floors which replaced the old carpet and also no longer has popcorn ceilings. We removed the old light fixture and replaced the windows, the walls were textured and repainted. Right now its only purpose is home to the kitchen’s upper cabinets.

sunroom storage space


Speaking of, here is the kitchen in July when we started.

kitchen before range wall

Since we took ownership we’ve removed the wallpaper, replaced the florescent box lighting with recessed cans (and pendants over the peninsula), removed all the cabinets and countertops, and updated the flooring with porcelain wood tile.

Here’s a peek at kitchen in progress, last week the cabinets arrived from Cliq Studios,  the lower cabinets are a gorgeous gray blue, the upper cabinets are white. (See the full kitchen plan with links to products in this post).

kitchen in progress


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