A kitchen soffit is a closed-in area above the cabinets. Soffits were a popular design included in homes in the mid-to-late 1900s. Today, however, homeowners don’t appreciate the boxed-in feeling soffits give a kitchen, especially those extending past the cabinets’ face. In addition, with the increasing popularity of open floor plans in the 2000s, the soffit is largely an unwanted feature. As a result, many interior designers suggest removing them and using the space for more storage. However, before committing to tearing out the soffit, there are a few things you need to consider.
1. What’s Behind the Kitchen Soffit?
Created to hide utilities like HVAC ductwork or plumbing lines from an upper story, the soffit design became so customary that designers started including them in the kitchen solely for aesthetics. But, you can’t be sure if you can remove a soffit unless you know its purpose in your kitchen. If there’s nothing above the kitchen, chances are your soffit is purely ornamental. But, if you have a bathroom overhead, or if there’s a return air duct in the soffit, you can guess that mechanicals are behind there.
If you don’t have the original building plans, the only way to know for sure is to cut holes through the drywall and look inside. But don’t start swinging a hammer yet. “Since you don’t want to damage anything,” says Andy Haste, founder and president of Riverside Construction, “it’s advised that you consult with a reputable contractor or design-build firm that can help you explore your options, both from a design and a cost perspective.”
2. How Will Removing the Soffit Impact the Cabinets?
To remove the soffit in the kitchen, you may also need to take down the cabinets. If you don’t plan to purchase new ones, you can rehang them after the soffit is gone. However, consider partnering with an experienced home remodeling contractor for this task to eliminate the risk of damaging the cabinets.
3. Will Soffit Removal Affect the Ceiling and Walls?
Once you remove the soffit, the surrounding walls and ceiling will need to be repaired and painted. You’ll also need to patch the holes left in the drywall from the studs that held the soffit in place. Also, “matching ceiling textures can be complicated, and patching it can require painting the entire ceiling to disguise the patch completely,” says designer, Kelly Grish. At a minimum, the whole area will require a fresh coat of paint.
4. What Else Should I Ask My Contractor?
Depending on what they find behind the soffit, you do have options. After assessing the situation, here are a few more questions to ask your remodeling contractor.
- Can the mechanicals behind the soffit be relocated?
- If yes, what would that entail?
- How much would it cost to move the plumbing, electrical, or ductwork?
- How would moving the mechanicals affect our time frame?
- If we move any of the utilities, how long will we be without service?
- Is there a less-expensive option?
5. Can You Disguise the Kitchen Soffit?
If removing the soffit isn’t an option because it’s hiding mechanicals, there are other ways to give your kitchen a more open and modern feel. Here are a few ideas for disguising a soffit to consider:
- Crown molding along the soffit adds a hint of elegance to your kitchen. And the added detail brings dimension and the illusion of a higher ceiling.
- If the original builder missed the opportunity to add lighting to the soffit, do that now. Achieve soft ambient lighting with LED strips above the crown molding. And for task lighting, recessed can lights stay out of the visual field while illuminating the countertop while you work.
- Replace the upper cabinets that hide the soffit. Custom cabinet makers can create cabinets that stretch up to the ceiling with the soffit hidden inside.
- If replacing the cabinets isn’t in the budget, disguise the soffit to look like another row of cabinets.
- Add decorative molding in a pattern to give your soffit some visual interest.
- Use the soffit as a canvas for creative artwork. “Paint custom art, farmhouse signage, or other design elements on a soffit, turning it into a thing of beauty,” says designer, Kelly Grish.
- Hang a collection of plates, trivets, or other collectibles on the face of the soffit.
- Disguise the soffit to look like a beam with a structural purpose. Then, add other faux beams to the kitchen to help it blend in and create a new, rustic design.
Consult with a Professional Remodeling Contractor
Now that you know what removing your kitchen soffit could entail, consult with a home remodeling and design professional to learn your options.
Since 2008, Riverside Construction’s award-winning team has served homeowners in the Lafayette, West Lafayette, and Tippecanoe County areas. First, take a look at their extensive portfolio of stunning kitchen remodels, then schedule a consultation with one of their expert design-build professionals. Also, sign up to receive their monthly “Designed for Life” newsletter for current remodeling trends and kitchen design inspiration.