When planning a new kitchen, the tops of your walls may not be your first consideration when thinking how to add more storage, bring in more light or create an airier feel. But a good designer will already have thought of this special zone, which could otherwise become dead space. Check out these ways you could make use of the equivalent area in your own home.
Fill it with floor-to-ceiling storage
If you have the space – and in a new extension, there will often be enough – you could cover one wall top to toe with storage.
In this open-plan kitchen, Amberth fitted cabinetry right to the ceiling. The designers chose handleless, matt lacquered units and included a column of ovens and shelving in the middle, so the big doors don’t dominate. The full wall provides ‘secret’ storage for throwing in not just kitchen clobber but also toys, garden cushions, sofa blankets, pet paraphernalia, brooms, etc.
Kitchen steps are useful to have within easy reach if you have high-up cupboards. If space is tight, look for a folding design that could slot into a tray storage area or be hung on the back of a door.
Here’s a twist on the norm: Making Spaces installed wall units horizontally instead of vertically, giving floor-to-ceiling units a different feel. They are fitted in a double layer, so not a centimeter is wasted. Beneath the closed units, there are open ones for quick-access storage, just where you need it by the hob.
Doors like this typically open upwards; make sure your kitchen fitter uses hinges that will prop them open while you browse the contents.
Boost light as well as storage
Here’s another design with stacked wall units, but here, Richard Burke Design has fitted the top doors with mirrors. This both prevents a blocky look and maximises the benefits of the light flooding in through the full-height windows, creating interesting reflections that make the room feel even bigger.
The designers have also addressed the difficulty of accessing top cupboards in a room with a high ceiling by adding a library ladder rail, providing safe access. When the ladder is butted up to the wall on the right, it provides access to the tall open shelving, too.
Slot in a window
Depending on the orientation of your kitchen or extension, there may be scope to use the top of a wall for a slim clerestory window like this one. It can be a useful way to boost light without adding roof lights or glazing that, in certain conditions, could make the space too hot or too bright.
Here, the wall is still used for units, which feature strips of lighting above and below, the upper one casting an attractive wash beneath the window after dark.
The designer of this room, Richard Cole Architecture, has also used the wall space perpendicular to the window to its full potential, with handleless units right to the ceiling.
Consider a giant larder
What’s not to love about letting a little more larder into your life? These kitchen storage units remain hugely popular on Houzz, and Craigie Woodworks has made full use of the generous ceiling height in this room with this supersized version.
As with any bespoke storage furniture, talk to your designer in lots of detail about all the things you need and want to stash, and if you think your needs may shift over time, request adjustable shelving.
Add an open shelf
A very high up shelf, like this one by British Standard by Plain English, is a nice touch, especially when the walls are painted like this to play with the proportions.
High shelves are generally best for things that don’t get used very often, but the items will need to be attractive, or your whole point of having an open shelf rather than closed storage is instantly defeated.
Another pointer: you will need excellent extraction to reduce the risk of grease settling on your shelf and its contents, and you should also be prepared to get up there and dust frequently.
Incorporate ‘white space’
Wall height doesn’t have to be packed with additional storage if it’s not required (besides, ceiling height may not always allow for more than a super skinny area, which may not always be useful).
What the designer, Banda Property, has done in this kitchen is aesthetically interesting as well as having practical benefits. Wall units have been fitted just a little higher than is standard, allowing more breathing space between the hob and work surface and the base of these units. That wonderful marble wall gets maximum space.
The other benefit is that you aren’t left with an exposed row of cupboard tops that will need cleaning.
Link wall units with a shelf
In this kitchen, the architect has maximised the wall area beneath a pitched roof perfectly. The shelving bridges two wall units and squares off the triangle of the pitch without building angular cupboards into it, which could have ruined the visual impact of this lovely feature.
It’s useful for larger items, but again, think about your extraction and commitment to dusting in advance!