Kitchen soffits emerged in the late 1960s as a decorative feature that functioned to hide mechanical components, pipes, and wires, as well as any other feature that compromised the overall aesthetic of the kitchen.
Although the trend lasted until the 80s, today’s modern architecture has influenced an increase in kitchen soffit removal and remodeling.
What is a Kitchen Soffit?
Kitchen soffits are bulky box-shaped walls that connect the cabinets and the ceiling. Due to this, they are located at the top of the cabinets, extending from upper cabinetry towards the ceiling, and hide industrial elements such as plumbing, ductwork, vents, wiring, and pipes.
The inclusion of kitchen soffits were great ways to disguise wherever cabinets in standard sizes didn’t fit the unique proportions of the kitchen space. As a result, a smaller soffit was often implemented to hide a gap or fill any excess space to achieve a more fitted, seamless look.
Kitchen cabinet soffits are usually made of drywall or stainless steel.
What is Behind a Kitchen Soffit?
A bulky kitchen soffit can hide a range of functional elements, from wires to vents. As a result, it is always best to keep in mind the precautions that will need to be taken if you choose to remodel or remove your soffit.
If you accidentally drill into the soffit and hit a wire or an important bit of plumbing, not only could this be dangerous, but the repairs will also be a lot more expensive.
A copy of the plans or blueprint of the house is likely to show what is contained behind your kitchen soffit. Alternatively, if you do not have access to either of these documents, try to cut a thin shallow hole across a large portion of the soffit. This will show you what is behind it without ripping into any key wire, electric, or plumbing work.
Behind kitchen cabinet soffits, you are most likely to find the following items:
Can You Remove Kitchen Soffits?
Though you can remove kitchen soffits, it is highly recommended that professional tradesmen are hired to carry out this task. Additionally, a plumber, electrician, and a contractor may be needed if there is a lot behind the soffit. For this reason, both remodeling and removing kitchen soffits can be a costly expense.
In order to remove a soffit, the attaching kitchen cabinets will need to be removed too to avoid damage, as well as help to make the construction work more straightforward and accessible. These cabinets will then need to be reinstalled once the project has been completed.
If there is nothing behind the soffit, it means it was only installed with a decorative purpose, and this makes the removal process a lot easier. However, if the kitchen soffit contains ductwork, it will need to be removed and rerouted which significantly increases the expenses of removing the kitchen soffit.
Another aspect to consider when removing kitchen soffits is the ceiling. As kitchen soffits tend to attach from cabinets to the ceiling, removing them will leave obvious spots of construction. Therefore, the ceiling will need to be painted after the removal, increasing the overall time and cost of the project.
Advantages of Removing Kitchen Soffits
There are many potential advantages of removing your kitchen soffits. These include the following:
Removing soffits can make your ceiling appear higher for a more elegant and spacious look. The extra space can hold additional shelving units, artwork, or simply work as additional storage. Removing soffits enables a different feature in the kitchen to become the main focal point, and can also make the kitchen appear lighter.
Having this extra space near the upper cabinets creates more room for storage. You can either purchase larger new cabinets to accommodate the extra room or add more cabinets and caddies on top of existing cabinets.
Extension of Cabinets
Tall upper cabinets are sophisticated, and painting them white helps light to bounce around the room, creating the illusion of a larger kitchen space. Extending your cabinets upwards is also a great way to gain extra storage space without making the kitchen appear cluttered.
Alternatives of Removing Kitchen Soffits
If you can’t remove your kitchen soffit, you can still make adjustments that will alter their appearance! Below is a list of creative ideas that you can incorporate into your kitchen to produce an integrated and attractive design:
If your cabinets do not match the length of the soffit, the soffit becomes more obvious. Therefore, you can modify your cabinets to match or extend past the soffit. This will help to hide any particularly bulky soffits as they will just appear to be a slightly lowered ceiling that cushions the extended cabinetry.
You can also extend cabinets upwards by having them uniquely fitted with your soffits. Really tall cabinets will give the appearance of sophistication, though you may lose out on actual storage space inside the cabinet.
Integrate Additional Cabinets for Extra Storage
Adding new cabinets can further disguise any soffits while producing more space for storage. Place new cabinet boxes or an open shelf wherever the soffit protrudes from the wall to create a built-in, consistent design that looks like an architectural choice.
It is also a great idea to add a breakfast nook to further hide soffits and add a practical and appealing feature to your kitchen. You should think about incorporating this nook in a space where kitchen cabinets will either appear too big or will simply not be functional for use.
Install Crown Molding
Add crown molding to create a traditional, elegant design that adds intricate details to your kitchen. This decorative trim running around your cabinets and kitchen walls will soften the look of soffits by balancing out depth and proportions.
Convert Kitchen Soffit into Pillar or Beam
By converting the design of your soffit to make it look like a pillar or beam, you can add a unique style that looks like it was an architectural choice. Beams in traditional kitchens add charm and character, so it makes sense to modify the look of your soffit to match your kitchen aesthetic.
You may choose to remodel the look of the soffit to achieve a pillar or beam appearance, or you can simply paint the soffit. Add matching wooden or beam designs around the kitchen space to fully integrate the new style.
Tile, Paint, or Use Wallpaper on Soffit
Consider painting your soffit the same color as the cabinets for a seamless design. You can also paint your ceiling a contrasting color to further enhance the blend of the upper cabinets into the soffit.
Just like crown molding, using wallpaper or tiles to create a stand-out feature within your kitchen can aid a cohesive, stylish design that works in both modern and traditional kitchen settings.
Installing recessed lighting into a kitchen soffit can help to facilitate a more sleek, modern design on a tight budget. Not only is this lighting a great way to further illuminate the room, but it is also functional for when you are working or cooking on a countertop and require close light.
Kitchen Soffit Staining
At HB ELEMENTS, we have manufactured an innovative Element Stain Series that can transform the look of a multitude of products, including a kitchen soffit. The staining solution creates a natural wooden finish for a timeless design that’s compatible with both modern and traditional kitchen designs.
The stain looks like real wood but is much easier to maintain and clean, making it a great option for a kitchen setting. The durable stains are also available in 12 beautiful colors, ensuring you find the perfect match for your kitchen!
In summary, soffits can add character and dimension all while protecting essential wires and plumbing for a cohesive, minimalist look. However, if you do not like the soffit in your kitchen, there’s a range of creative options for altering their appearance and incorporating more functional elements, such as lighting or storage space.
At HB ELEMENTS, we specialize in creating and installing beautiful, practical soffit systems that are durable for long-lasting results. Our Element Stain Series complements our soffit designs to produce an attractive wooden appearance without the tedious upkeep of normal wood.