Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Decorating above Kitchen Cabinets ~ Why is it so hard?

With the New Year, I decided I was ready for a change in the kitchen. Something a bit more farmhouse, more rustic, and less fussy. Here is a picture of our kitchen taken by Jennifer at "The Old Painted Cottage" when she featured our home on her blog in August 2010. 


I wanted to remove most of the floral elements, tole trays, bird houses, white accessories... It's a New Year and I'm ready for a change!! I decided that I would do this change without buying anything new, just use what I have on hand. When watching decorating shows they always tell you to remove everything so you can really see what needs to be done. So, I removed EVERYTHING from above the kitchen cabinets and placed it on my center island. 

{Of course I didn't think this was going to be blog-worthy so I never photographed that mess...so sorry. I may never learn!}

I also didn't plan ahead because this wasn't really a smart move late in the afternoon... Taking everything off the upper cabinets at 5:00pm... Not only was there crap antiques all over our kitchen counters but my family decided they were hungry and I should feed them! Do you believe this? Can't they see that I'm very busy?? 

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese anyone??
 (don't judge!)

After cooking a gourmet meal, I went around and "shopped my house" for rustic, farmhouse, vintage accessories I already owned. Opened closets, took pictures off walls, made a big mess... You know the drill! I put all my inspiration pieces in the kitchen and started to feel very overwhelmed. 

What had I just started??

My kitchen cabinets are staggering heights. Since our home was completely rebuilt a few years ago, I often get asked if we designed the kitchen. We did not. We purchased the home after it's completion. I didn't choose any of the kitchen finishes although I would say the majority are my taste. Since the ceilings are very high, the builder went with a staggered look to the cabinets.  I'm not sure I love this look and it certainly makes them hard to decorate. Nothing I place up there seems proportioned or well balanced. I really struggle with decorating this space.

I decided to take a few minutes to search blogs, Pinterest and magazines for kitchen ideas. You know what I found?? Everybody struggles with "over the cabinet" decorating.... It's Hard!! 

So here's where I'm at today....


My Puritan Bakery box, which I found at Flea Market Wednesday, made the cut... It stayed in the same spot. I tried a few other pieces (a big basket, a large wicker trunk) but decided to stay with the wood box. I did remove the floral tray that was behind it.


I'm going to move to the "right" for each of the photos 
so I can give you a tour...


The area over the microwave...


This area was the hardest in the entire kitchen. I originally had an antique tole bird cage and floral tole tray above the microwave (both for sale soon on Etsy). I replaced them with an old sifting screen, large scale, chunky glass/silver salt shakers, brown transferware platter, and a concrete baby chick... still not sure about this... does it look too staged?



Moving right again....


This area was a bit easier... I placed some lattice pottery, another (smaller) scale and a brown transferware platter. The platter is one of my favorites and it was hanging on the wall next to my kitchen table. Look at that empty nail.... 


I now have to find something to hang on the wall in it's place.... 


I also added an antique pickle jar which I purchased last year from Restoration Hardware in Woodland Hills, California.  When that store was closing, RIP, I got this jar at 75% off... It was still expensive but worth every penny. I filled it with Vintage Silver plate which was purchased at a Thrift store. My family doesn't care for the dainty utensils but when I have a party, it's nice to have extra silverware...


Moving right again, you can see my favorite concrete chap...


Given to me by my mom...
 after I begged her for years! 


He's all decayed from being in my mom's garden... perfect patina! 


The kitchen looking towards the {winter bare} backyard...


An antique fragment hangs over the sink. Probably from an old iron fence. I don't love the hooks that Mr. AntiqueChase used to secure it to the wall, but it's up for us me to enjoy. 

It has remnants of old green paint which I just love...


A couple of vintage cement chickens 
can watch over me while I do dishes...



An antique french basket over the fridge... 
It has a fake ivy in it for a hint of color... 

Wait... is that the phone ringing?? 
Yes it is! 

1980 called and it wants its fake Ivy back??


Tell me...
Should I ditch the fake ivy or is it acceptable up there??


Now, looking back towards the sink...
Notice anything??


I moved my chicken crate 
(which was under the coffee table in my prior post)

and it's now a plant stand of sorts....

Holding a real plant... 
a succulent ring left over from my Thanksgiving table.


Just when you told me you liked the chicken crate under my coffee table... 
I was too embarrassed to tell you I had already moved it!!


I removed the antique the bread boards that were propped over my stove... 
I loved the bread boards there 
but it started to feel too heavy.
  
To see that post click here


For now, 
I added a simple old drying rack... 

I love the weathered wood... 
the gray patina is fabulous!


I added a rustic tin chalkboard to the kitchen. Purchased in December from WUSLU. My teenagers always leave their dirty dishes in the sink...
they say 
they can't tell if the dishwasher is 'clean or dirty'.... It's not that hard people!!! Open the dishwasher and look!

However, I am onto them... 
and now there's no excuse!


I was using chalk to mark the "status" of the dishwasher... but Mr. AntiqueChase suggested using a magnet which works well. I need to find a cute magnet, or take some vintage do-dad and make one!


The wicker tray on the center island is new... I got it this week! I received a gift certificate to Restoration Hardware for Christmas. The tray was on clearance with an extra 10% off which make it a great price! The wicker is a grayish tone which matches my drying rack by the stove... It has a large rope detail on the top which looks beachy, like spring!! I placed three old demijohns in it. The demijohn bottles came right from my dining room table....


Old remnants of wicker and rope....


Some curly twigs thrown in...


I love the generous size of the basket on the island. 
It's just what I needed!


Wow, it looks so clean right now... 
deceiving!


Did I ever show you these little french prints above my kitchen desk? 
I have 8 of them... 

All purchased at flea markets 
and I found four at the Salvation Army. 

The glare is so bad on them, I'll show you more later...


Antique bread boards back in their french artillery basket...


And the pile on the floor by the fireplace...
the mess I am left with today... 

stuff that didn't make the cut...

I will be 
stuffing this all junk in the closet 
selling this all at my next garage sale!

So, tell me...
Do you struggle with decorating over cabinets??


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62 comments:

d e l i g h t said...

You did a great job! You have a beautiful kitchen to work in!

Ann@A Sentimental Life said...

Boy do I! I have 11 foot ceilings and things looks small up there. I have some jadeite but need some larger items. That is something I want to work on this year. Yours looks great with the older pieces and great transferware pieces.

i wish I could come to your garage sale, I am sure I would love your left overs!

Debra @ Common Ground said...

I have soffits above my cabinets but I know it's hard to do this. You've done it right by using all neutral, and it really works! And yes, your 1980 fake ivy looks wonderful, I have it too. I really got a laugh out of this post!! xoxo

Olive Cooper said...

Marcy, my cabinets go all the way to the ceiling in our yellow house and in the old house too where we have only one cabinet being as the house is pre Civil War and the original kitchen was in the yard. I think the concrete man is lovely up there and protected from further decay perhaps. Love the scale in front of the tray. It all looks fresh and farmhouse/french vintage to me. Very well done. Still love the chicken crate under the table but make Marcy happy. hugs♥O

Designs By Pinky said...

First of all I would LOOOOVE to have all that space above my cabinets to decorate:) We only have 8 foot ceilings so I only have about a foot do decorate. I did it several years ago and maybe I should blog about it too. I do like what I did but maybe it is time for achange. I love what you did. It looks great and when I came to the "fake ivy" I actually sighed cause it brought some color and life to the space, I thought. Thanks for the tour. XO, Pinky

Babs said...

Your kitchen looks great! Love the transferware platters.
I wish I had space above my cabinets. I only have 8 ft. ceilings and soffits above. As for the fake ivy, if you've had it there for a while, you could take it down and see how you like it. If, after a couple of days it still looks bare or soemthing's missing..put it back. It looks nice there.
Babs

Lou Cinda @ Tattered Hydrangeas said...

I think it looks FABULOUS Marcy! LOVE those platters and the concrete guy! Love him! And I think it is perfectly acceptable to have "faux" ivy in the basket...The island, everything looks great!

Coffee tables are hard for me to accessorize! Go figure!

Lou Cinda :)

Andrea said...

My Mom came to my house for a visit (we moved a plane ride away about 6 months ago) and one of her first comments was the top of my kitchen cab's looked so bare. I have struggled with what to put up there! I plan on using brown transferware in the glass cab's just below, but unsure of the very top. I used to have fake ivy, but decided I needed a change. I love how you've decorated yours, and this post comes at a perfect time! Now, I'm off to start 'collecting' for my display =)

Deserae said...

Your vignette's above the cabinets look wonderful!!! It really is such a hard space to decorate and I think everyone struggle's with it?!?!? We installed the taller cabinets when we did our kitchen reno two years ago and I never put anything back up there.....maybe I should work on that? LOL
~Des

ℳartina @ Northern Nesting said...

Marcy I think you did a fabulous job of dressing up the top of your cabinets. I tried changing mine up after Christmas but wasn't happy with the "new" look so back everything went to the way it was, but I am happy with it. Pop on over when you have a chance.

Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions said...

Yes! And why is that? It's just another surface, right? I had people tell me to ditch my faux greenery {when I asked for advice/opinions on my cabinet tops}that I brought with me when we moved, but I need some green up there so I kept them. I have decided to do what you did and shop my house for everything I haven't found a home for yet to use up there. I am sure I can come up with something! I love how yours turned out. Love the area over the microwave. There is hope yet!

Salmagundi said...

Everything looks perfect to me - I love, love everything you have arranged. Well, maybe I would lose the fake ivy!!! You have some great things. Sally

chateau chic said...

LIking the changes you made above your cabinets.
That space is always a challenge in my kitchen because I don't have a high enough space for larger items.
I'm your newest follower, Mary Alice

{northern cottage} said...

that is HARD to do - i love that you did mac & cheese ha! i've done bare I've done full i've done a middle mix of somewhat full and am always wanting to do it DIFFERENTLY it's a dissase I think! your turned out so nice - calm & yet crisp!

http://northerncottage.blogspot.com/2012/01/northern-cottage-party-time-tuesday2.html

Blondie's Journal said...

I have the same problem as you...what to put above the cabinets. Right now I have some of my prettier vintage bowls...so the space is really about storage! ;-D

I love what you did. it looks perfect and I LOVE your island. The wicker basket is fabulous! Great job, Marcy!

XO,
Jane

Robin said...

So nice to see a post about that space above cabinets. I have old fluorescent lights above mine that are impossible to place things around. I loved looking at what you've done. Do you have lighting up there? If so what kind?

Sherry @ No Minimalist Here said...

Marcy, I moved everything off the top of my cabinets today. The space between the ceiling and cabinet top is very limited and nothing ever looked right. Your kitchen is beautiful and the vignettes are all so pretty. Thank you for linking to my party this week. xo, Sherry

AntiqueChase said...

To answer about the lighting, I have recessed lighting in the ceiling. I could really use a pretty chandelier!

Ivy and Elephants said...

Such neat treasures. No wonder you have a hard time deciding which things to display. But, it's always fun to have many choices when you feel like a change.
Gorgeous! I like the crate there as a plant stand.
Hugs,
Patti

Faded Charm said...

Yes. I do struggle with this. I'm liking your new look. I've found that I like mine best if kept minimal and simple:-)

xoxo
Kathleen

Suzanne@Meridian Road said...

I like it! I especially like the sifting tray thing. I passed one of those up at an estate sale not too long ago. Kicking myself now! I like the big wooden box, too, and the pickle jar. Very cool.

I need to do some serious editing above my cabinets.

High Street Cottage said...

Marcy it's so nice to have the tour of your Kitchen. I remember finding your blog through the feature on Jennifer's blog. And I love your trays you had before, however this is a wonderful look. Love the old Chap! He's darling, and the brown and whites are gorgeous. My cabinets go entirely to the ceiling but I recall helping my Parents decorate their Kitchen and adding pretties atop theirs. I think the key is large pieces, and not too much. Also to make sure you dust often ;)
By the way, your flooring is amazing!

Raspberry Lane Primitives said...

Wow, I just love your kitchen, the high ceilings and staggered cupboards..looks fabulous! Love the brown transferware platter too. I love the fireplace and the double oven...what's under your stove top?
the dishwasher sign is just great....lol
patti

thistlewoodfarm said...

Everything looks so fresh and I love all your restoration hardware accents! Great chicken coop!

blessings,
karianne

Lisa ~Suburban Retreat~ said...

Whew ... you were certainly challenged but you've put it all back together beautifully! The concrete man from your Mom's garden is awesome and I especially love your dishwasher solution. I have the exact same problem in my home but apparently it's my fault b/c I actually rinse the dishes before they go in. I'm asked what the point is of a dishwasher if I'm going to wash the dishes first before I put them in. Go figure! Your solution is perfect!

Pam said...

I looks great. Well worth the work. I hardly ever change out the tops of my cabinets, but you've got me motivated to try something new up there. Besides, it's time to dust the tops (that no one can see anyhow)!

THE FARMHOUSE PORCH said...

Saw you on Laurie Anna's...Loving your blog! I'm following...

♥,
Linsey

Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

This is so lovely...you make me WISH I had more space above my cabinets! I love the silverware in the jar, especially! Wonderful!

Jacqueline~Cabin and Cottage said...

I find those high places hard too! I use a lot of big containers baskets/boxes for little used things. I LOVE seeing your fabulous platters! But you do have a fabulous HUGE kitchen. How can you go wrong?

hometown girl said...

your kitchen is lovely! i love all your pieces you have some really great stuff! that brown transferware tray is gorgeous!! thanks for stopping by! susan

Alabaster Rose Designs said...

Hi Marcy,
It all looks so wonderful! I'm the same way, I always seem to start my kitchen redecorating in the afternoon and then I have to find space to cook. :)
Your home is always so beautiful, I love your style!
Hope you have a great day.
Sincerely,
Melinda

Eclectically Vintage said...

Love bread boards, chicken coop (in it's new spot), old silver, dishwasher chalkboard (how many times have I opened that thing when it's running)! Love that you are going to shove those unused things into a closet (you should see my closets)!
Kelly

Amy @MaisonDecor said...

I don't have this problem in my current house as there is not space above the cabs. But I love the staggered look even if it makes things harder, it looks more custom to me. I love the changes, but I love your tole too! So I might be looking in your etsy...you should probably just put it under the bed and keep it for a few years...you will want it back!!

Sue said...

When I had no soffits, I like playing with the tops of the cabinets. I was always changing them up. Inquiring minds want to know, "So why does it get so dusty up there, anyway?!" LOL
Your staging looks great! Love all the transferware and the "stuff." And I like the chicken coop in its new spot, too. Now go put away your "pile." *grin*

Becky C said...

Yes! I have this problem! It is a decorating nightmare...
but you have really got a lot to work with. And you made it very eye catching. Love every detail. And love that kitchen :)

Gail said...

You have perfectly handled the scale issue that eludes many people; you understand that decorative items, placed up high have to be big. I especially like the jar with flatware in it.

Shelia said...

Oh, I wish I that kind of space on top of my cabinets! You've done a beautiful job in your kitchen! :) I love your kitchen too - it's so pretty.
Be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

mrshinesclass said...

You did a great job with the redecorating above the cabinets. I'm working on that same thing in my home. Yes, it's a struggle for me too. I've been doing that thing where you take everything down, and my pile of stuff that I'm no longer using is multiplying in the garage.
Sharon

AntiqueChase said...

I was asked by email for the color of paint used in the kitchen. It is a very soft butter color, creamy... not too yellow. It was freshly painted when we moved and I liked it so I kept it. Sadly, I was not able to get the name of the paint color. I was able to get it color matched at Home Depot (after cutting a piece of the wall out and bringing it in). It's not perfect, but close enough to cover nail holes... If anyone wants the recipe, just let me know. Thanks! Marcy :)

The Other Me Is Sane said...

I have the same problem with high cabinets and haven't addressed it yet, so I'm no expert when I give you my 2 cents worth of advice. I'm thinking there's no color pizzaz. Maybe you could put some "pops" of color up there are some paint that isn't so close to the cabinets range? good luck.

Vicki V @ blestnest.blogspot.com said...

Yes, I struggle, which is why I have absolutely NOTHING above mine! Yours looks awesome. You have some really nice things.

✿ⒹⒺⒺ✿@ A Lapin Life said...

Your kitchen is gorgeous! I love how you displayed all your treasures.

Dee

The Tablescaper said...

You did an super job. I so understand what you mean about dragging it all out at the wrong time, BUT when inspiration hits, you've got to go with it.

It would be great to have you join me at Seasonal Sundays.

- The Tablescaper

Vickie @ Ranger 911 said...

I have soffits over my cabinets that house steam heat plumbing, wiring, etc. so they have to stay. I love the open look you have and all your vintage treasures displayed. How about dried cotton plants instead of the ivy? I would love to find some, but we don't grow cotton in northern MN. :@

I'm impressed you did all that in one evening! I can walk around the house for hours trying to find a place for one item.

tnscrapper said...

First - Love your kitchen!
Second - I struggle with the same decorating issue. My cabinets are not staggered. I recently cleared them off completely and they are still bare. I had the faux greenery and some ceramic tea pots The style had been there for a few years and I was just tired of it. NOw I don't know what to do. I am not much of fond of the farm decor, so I am at a loss. I did find a large wire basket at an antique store recently that I thought would look great. Ended up using it in my craft room to store my scrapbooking punches. It was perfect for it.

Thanks for sharing

DownTheLaneWithDaisy said...

Isn't a project like this fun..and a lot of work??? You did a great job.

A suggestion for above the microwave. Pull the tray and the scale more to the center. It will group it a little more and frame it so you have the wall color on both sides, defining it more.

About the ivy...we all hear how it's dated. I don't think so. I use it in strategic spots to add color and softness. You have a lot of sharper angles. I'd even put it in the big box on the far left side.

KELLY said...

Kitchen desing is very beautiful and neat. Good color combination.
What kind of wood have been used to make kitchen cabinet ?

Olga said...

I just posted about an idea I had to change my usual over cabinet decor. I love your stagered cabinet heights. Right now I only have a plater and some ivy over the stove/microweave cabinet. I'm also not sure about keeping the ivy. I like the color it gives. Your kitchen is beautiful!

classic • casual • home said...

SOOO refreshed and stylish. Love it. I do just what you did...take everything away and then do vignettes until it looks right and leave out want doesn't. NICE JOB!!!

classic • casual • home said...

PS. You know how I feel about the fake ivy. Your island arrangement is lovely!

Mariaelena said...

I really like what you did...i know what you mean about the tops being difficult to decorate...we just painted our kitchen cabinets and did a reno...I took everything down and thought I may leave it that way, but once the reno was over, I put things back up...I do like the homey feel it gives the kitchen...come on over and see ours...xo, Mariaelena

Dear Lillie said...

Looks fabulous! And I have to say I laughed out loud at your kids claiming they never know if the dishwasher is clean or dirty! Haha!

Sheila said...

I have an honest opinion about your "1980's ivy" - I hope not to offend but to offer an idea that may (or may not be helpful)! I say to definately lose the ivy! A few large terra cotta pots(with patina, of course), side by side, I'm thinking 3, mounded with artificial succulents would add beatiful "greenery" and a natural element which is always in style (the clay pots will add a touch of color in a natural way as well). It would be nice to add a touch of green in the way of a branch-y type greenery in the vintage box on the other side for balance) I think you have done a beautiful job displaying your treasures! Thank you for sharing!!

Morning T said...

Your changes look great, wow!! I decided to get rid of all fake plants last year so I'm on the 'pitch the ivy' team. ;)

Love that the family decided they were hungry right in the middle of your project, isn't that always the way it works!!
Hugs~
T

arrielle_p said...

What a beautiful world when you have a beautiful kitchen like this. A place like this is what I fall inlove with specially in a kitchen, because I love to cook. Everything is so well position. I really enjoyed looking at these photos. :)
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Jennifer Rizzo said...

It looks really bright and cozy. I think it looks beautiful!

Elma said...

I just loved what you did!! Can you come over and help me?????
I can't for the life of me get my cabinets to look nice. If I put to much crap up there no good and few pieces still no good. My next house will be cabinets up to the ceiling!!
Love all your treasures:) I was wondering where did you find the basket for your breadboards??

Dianne Grover said...

There are those who do not want to place anything on top of wooden closets and cabinets for the items might just accumulate dirt and dust but if you clean these areas regularly, you will have a nicely decorated closets Bergen and storage spaces that will further accentuate your lovely abode.

Linda Strauss said...

Your kitchen looks great!What a beautiful world when you have a beautiful kitchen like this.
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Debbie @ MeandMyDIY said...

Your cabinets are so pretty! Yes, I definitely struggle with mine. They're staggered too, and the stuff that's up there right now has been there for years. It may be time to to a little rearranging! And you have a beautiful kitchen as well. Nicely done!

Debbie

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