Remodel Woes: Kitchen Ceiling and Cabinet Soffits

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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Curing a Funk

January 19th, 2015

I couldn’t put my finger on it for a few days but then I realized that coming down off the holiday high followed by the excitement of a new year coupled with gloomy weather made me feel like I was in a funk. I know I’m not alone, friends and relatives have mentioned it too. I’m generally a very positive person which makes the state all the more uncomfortable.

There’s funk (we love you Bruno) and then there’s a funk – much different. Every January 1st we share inspirational quotes with the message more or less to “make this year extraordinary” but those left me empty because truthfully I’m very content with the way things are going and the pace in my life and don’t feel any pressure to change it. But I still felt like I was in a funk last week, lacking in all creativity and energy, so I made efforts to change my mood. I realized I had to actually do something to lift my spirits, it wasn’t going to appear out of thin air. A few things worked.

Get Busy Sweating. The hardest part is tying the laces on my trainers, but exercise truly is the best mood changer, I always feel fantastic after a run or some weight lifting sets. Sweat is a go-to cure so I turned to my playlist of favorite jams and I got busy sweating. I’m not where I want to be fitness wise, but working toward my goal makes me feel better. 

girl working out

Get Busy Cleaning. I came home from weeks away in Las Vegas to piles of stuff and papers everywhere and the sight made me want to run screaming for the hills. I knew I had to conquer it in baby steps so I began by organizing my pantry last week. It took three hours, I killed two large spiders in the process, and filled several bags with things I wasn’t using (cookbooks, plates) and dropped them at the Goodwill.

My pantry should win the Most Boring Pantry Ever award, I’ve considered painting it or wallpapering it and photographing it with glass jars filled with flour and pasta with printable labels but then decided no that doesn’t work for me, mine is filled with everyday things like cereal boxes and canned goods and I’m totally fine with that because each time I enter it now I breathe a sigh of relief knowing where everything is and that every single thing in there serves a purpose.

organized linen closet


I want this feeling for my whole house (don’t we all) so on Saturday I tackled my daughter’s room with her help (gah! it’s amazing what they accumulate). My linen closet is next, I figure if I can tackle one or two spots a week I’ll get that same sense of relief that came with the pantry reorganization. (P.S. I love how Jerry describes how we all have too many things – truth!)

Start Making Plans. I took a walk around my yard yesterday, at first glance it was so depressing in winter with so many barren branches but then I remembered it will bud again soon. The benefit was that in dormancy I can see where we might plant a tree or add some shrubs here and there. The same is true for the blank pad of paper that sat in front of me until I filled it with some things I want to do this year: Update the website. Transplant the olive tree. Make more art. Design more fabrics. Visit more wineries, etc.

projects to conquer list

printable to do list found here

I never know where motivation will come from, sometimes an encouraging TED talk or inspirational website, sometimes a book or article that kicks my booty into gear. Other times is the act of creative work, picking up a paintbrush or going outside with my camera. I think when you find whatever it is that helps you recharge – crafting, cooking, solving puzzles, whatever – those activities help you get your groove back.

Seek Out Laughter. When all else fails, I call up my sister or a friend who brings joy while I drink a glass of wine and chances are I leave that conversation feeling better than I did before the connection. Or I turn on a comedy that makes me laugh, that helps too.

What tricks do you use to pull yourself out of a funk? Do you get the same feeling this time of year?