Upper Cabinet Height Quandary

      A homeowner found the upper cabs too high after they were installed. So the cabinetmaker lowered them, but now he needs to make it look right. "It's a lesson for us all," says one pro. November 11, 2005

Question
I am in the middle of a kitchen, and my signals got crossed with the client's. Here's the setup - standard 96" ceiling, 30" 32mm boxes, skinned with maple on visible cabs. It is approximately 3 1/4 from the ceiling to install crown at a later time (her request). She requested that I lower (ugh) the cabs because she decided they were too high, so I did. Now the gap is around 11". I was thinking an 8" piece (vertical grain) supported by braces in back (wedges), some dental (or something else) somewhere right around the middle, and finished by crown. Any ideas?

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
Does it have to reach the ceiling? I would suggest turning the top of the cabinets into a platform for plants or some sort of decoration. If you run it to the ceiling now, it may look like you are correcting a mistake. An eight foot ceiling should have a minimum 36" upper, and I've made them up to 42". People never understand how high something is until it's installed and they can't reach into it. Another option is to go ahead and take it to the ceiling and build the client a cool little kitchen step stool, maybe with handlebars and a little motor so she can scoot from cabinet to cabinet without getting down :)



From the original questioner:
Funny, it never seemed high until I put the microwave in. I suggested 36 to begin with, but it was vetoed. Grrr. At this point, I am correcting a problem, plus I need to hide the holes I drilled for my cleats. I suggested the plant thing. She says if I can't reach 'em now, how do you think I'm gonna water plants? Good point. I suggested plastic ones, but thought I should leave it alone after that.


A lesson to all of us. Properly documented project drawings, with clearly defined specifications, sample finish blocks, sample doors and itemized scope of work with exclusions clearly flagged go a long way to avoid misunderstandings and heartburn. We have to manage our clients and their expectations. We are the professionals. Document the hell out of it and have the client review and sign off on everything. It's our job to define it so well that if the client's little rabbit mind goes off our shining path of job documentation, we are already there with a change order.

Documentation forces decision and commitment before production, which benefits your project management. Even some things as seemingly trivial as finish hardware and locations are best dealt with early and documented. The correct hardware can be purchased and installed in the shop. We have had several costly hardware location miscommunications in the past, and now try to get them nailed down in the approval stage.



From the original questioner:
In the rush to get started, get done and move on, we professionals sometimes skip over steps. Usually, we are successful at our endeavors, but there is the odd time when success is not at our feet and usually because we failed to document. That goes for taking pictures as well. I'm now implementing new steps in my process sheet to prevent this from happening again.

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