Can You Remove Your Kitchen Soffit? 4 Careful Considerations

A kitchen soffit often called a “bulkhead,” is a portion of the ceiling that has been built lower than the area around it. Although not as popular today, soffits are common in older homes built before the year 2000. They can protrude several inches beyond the cabinets and make the kitchen look cramped, dated and unsightly.

As a result, many interior designers today would likely recommend removing soffits to create extra space above the cabinets, or to extend the cabinets to the ceiling to make the kitchen appear taller, more spacious and add additional hidden storage.

Before committing to a kitchen soffit removal, take careful consideration of these four relevant facts:

1. What’s Behind the Kitchen Soffit?

A kitchen soffit serves a purpose, which is typically to cover up and hide the necessary kitchen wiring, ductwork, and even plumbing. The only way to know what is behind the soffit is to look at the original building plans or to cut holes into strategic areas to determine what’s inside.  Identifying what is above the kitchen can also sometimes provide clues as to what is inside the soffit.  If there is nothing above the kitchen, there is a higher likelihood that there is nothing critical inside the soffit.

If it’s determined that the soffit is indeed hiding plumbing, vents, ducts, or other mechanicals, removing it will be more complicated. It is well-advised that you consult with a reputable contractor or design-build firm who can help you explore your options, both from a design and cost perspective. 

2. Consider the Cabinets

Removing a soffit may cause cabinet damage or necessitate replacing them entirely. Even if a soffit can be removed without disturbing ducts, pipes, or wiring, any cabinetry touching the soffit will need to be, at least, temporarily removed.

3. Disguising Your Kitchen Soffits

If removing your kitchen soffit is not in your plan or budget, you may consider options that make them less noticeable. One option is to creatively disguise it by installing new cabinets that blend better with the soffit or add crown molding to the soffit to seamlessly blend it with the ceiling. 

Another option is to turn a soffit that extends beyond a cabinet into a pillar or beam extension, thus adding dimension and special interest to the space. Some homeowners have even elected to paint custom art, farmhouse signage or other design elements on a soffit turning it into a thing of beauty.

4. Soffit Removal Affects the Ceiling and Walls

Removing the soffits can also impact surrounding walls and ceilings. If removed, it is likely that the wall behind the soffit or the ceiling above will need to be repaired, refinished or redesigned altogether. 

Talk with a Remodeling Professional Before Removing a Soffit

Because kitchen soffits are purposeful and involve integral structural and functional elements of your kitchen, it’s important to discuss your ideas with a home remodeling professional before taking any steps or making any decisions. 

Schedule a personal consultation with Riverside Construction to discuss your kitchen remodeling ideas, and take a look through our kitchen remodeling portfolio to see some great ways to disguise, remove, or incorporate kitchen soffits into a beautiful design. Also, be sure to sign up for our Designed for Life newsletter for a wealth of remodeling information and kitchen design inspiration.

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