What to Do About Kitchen Soffits

August 19 2016

We do a lot (and when we say a lot we mean a lot) of kitchen renovations, and one issue that many homeowners want to solve is what to do with unwanted soffits – that boxy, closed-in space stretching from the top of a kitchen cabinet to the ceiling. Sometimes there’s stuff hidden behind them; sometimes there isn’t. Either way, kitchen soffits of all kinds can look dated and clunky, or they simply might not work with your kitchen design. While it’s not always possible to completely remove them, there is always a renovation solution that can help you make peace with them. Let’s investigate!

Can you remove them?Rednik 15

Before you think about getting rid of your soffits, you need to know whether they were a design choice or a structural necessity. It’s common practice to hide mechanicals, like electric wiring, plumbing or HVAC duct work, in the soffit space and then box it up with drywall. The only way to find out what’s inside your soffits is to crack open the drywall and take a look. You can do this yourself if you’ve got a bit of DIY skills, or get a professional to do it.

If there’s nothing hiding inside, congratulations! Your soffits were a design choice, and knocking them out will be a quick and easy project.

If there are mechanicals in your soffits, it’s slightly more complicated. Whatever is in there will have to be redirected; either further into the wall, into the ceiling, or elsewhere. Your contractor will likely have to bring in a plumber, electrician or HVAC specialist, which will obviously bring the cost up. Cabinets may be effected too, depending on how they were installed.

Taggart 02If they must stay, how can I disguise them?
So your soffits hold important mechanicals that you either can’t redirect, or it would cost too much to do so. Don’t panic! Just get creative. There are plenty of design solutions and tricks to help you blend them in with your kitchen. Here are a few ideas to help you:


  • Create the illusion of tall cabinets – paint the soffits the same color as the cabinets, or, if you’re installing new ones, ask if matching panels can be made to cover soffits.
  • Add niches – is there room between the mechanicals to open up a few built-in shelf niches in the soffit? Wire each niche with a recessed light and use them to display fine china or artwork!
  • Make a counter nook – Extend the soffit past the end of the cabinets to create a nook around the kitchen.
  • Paint ’em! Clever use of paint can disguise the soffit too. One idea is to paint the cabinets, walls and soffit all the same color to create a monochromatic look. Another idea is to paint the ceiling a vibrant color while leaving the soffit, walls & cabinets neutral.
  • Use Molding – Trim the soffits with decorative molding where the cabinets stop, and where the ceiling starts.
  • Add ceiling beams – adding beams to the ceiling gives you an opportunity to hide your soffits themselves as beams.

Having a hired designer or contractor can be really helpful with this kind of problem. If they are familiar with remodeling kitchens, they’ll have a bevy of ideas to suite your specific needs and bring your kitchen up-to-date. If you live in the tri-state area, give us a call! We’d love to help.