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Helpful Remodeling Tips

How to Hide Kitchen Soffits

By November 21, 2022December 2nd, 2022No Comments
Blue and white kitchen design

Kitchen soffits: a standard feature in many homes, they can sometimes be an eyesore and make a kitchen feel out-dated. However, love them or hate them, soffits often hide ductwork, plumbing or electrical wiring and serve a functional purpose, which usually means the cost of removing them isn’t worth the hassle. So, how do you hide kitchen soffits so they don’t stick out like a sore thumb in your newly remodeled kitchen?

First things first, what is a kitchen soffit? Simply put, kitchen soffits are usually framed and drywalled box-shape structures that run the length of a wall usually above the kitchen cabinets. Sometimes, they extend the entire length of a room, not just above cabinets. They usually contain air conditioning or other ductwork that needs to vent to the exterior of the home or plumbing lines that run from the floor above.  

Kitchen soffits can vary in size depending on what’s behind them, the size of the cabinets and the ceiling height. Since it can be costly to remove them (as that requires relocating ducts or plumbing/electrical wiring), your next best option is to figure out how to disguise them so they visually blend with your kitchen. This is especially true if you’re keeping an eye on your budget!

Before you get started: it’s worth doing a little bit of ‘exploratory surgery’ to determine if there is actually anything behind the soffits. Often builders (and home remodelers) add fake soffits to lower the ceiling height to meet the top of the cabinets to make the cabinets appear built-in. This is done rather than incurring the additional expense of having to purchase custom-sized ceiling height cabinets or adding decorative upper cabinets. Removing a recessed light or ceiling vent in or near the soffit may give you a quick peek inside, but cutting a hole or two in the soffit itself may give you an even greater sense of what’s lurking behind the soffits. Just remember to keep the piece you cut out so you’re not left with a gaping hole until construction starts!

If you’ve determined the soffit is indeed hiding ductwork or other essential plumbing/wiring, here are a few ways to hide them in plain sight!

Paint the soffit the same color as the perimeter kitchen cabinets

This helps them blend together so your eye isn’t immediately drawn to the soffit first. Also, if you have a kitchen island, pick a contrasting color to add a pop such as blue, green or wood to make the island (not the soffit) the focal point and is right on trend.

Create niches

This one all depends on what’s behind the kitchen soffit, but it may be possible to reframe around ductwork to add niches. This adds design interest and creates a custom look that looks intentional.

Make the soffit a design feature

Depending on your aesthetic, instead of trying to blend the soffit, it is possible to make ductwork a feature by removing the soffit altogether and going for a more industrial look by spray painting the ductwork behind. It’s better to go with dark or light colors (like black or white) to get the look, but can also work keeping the metal ducting if it’s new/in good shape. This works best in contemporary kitchens for a loft-like feel.

Add design interest

Not into the contemporary look of exposed ductwork? Think about adding wood paneling or other material such as metallic tile to the front of the soffit that ties into the design of the kitchen.

Add moulding

This is a great, budget-friendly solution especially for large kitchen soffits. Create design detail by adding moulding and painting for a custom panel look. Moulding isn’t reserved for traditional kitchens – if done correctly, modern moulding is equally at home in almost any design aesthetic. 

Drop the ceiling in the rest of the kitchen

It will be an added expense but, depending on the design of your kitchen, it may be possible to drop the ceiling height to the same height as the soffit. We’re big fans of creating more space rather than reducing it, so this is only an option if you have plenty of height to work with.

Create a coffered ceiling

Add long, thin and evenly spaced rafters that mimic beams. Add moulding to the rafters for a custom coffered look. This solution is less expensive than dropping the entire ceiling and can create a high-end, custom kitchen look when done right. 

Add a tray ceiling

Continue the soffit around the entire kitchen to create a tray ceiling effect. This also helps create a focal point in your kitchen. Add lighting inside the tray cove for ambient lighting and a more custom look.

Get rid of the soffits altogether

None of the above an option? Then it’s worth asking  your home remodeling company or general contractor to price out what it will cost to get rid of them. If they really bother you now, no matter what you do, you’re always going to notice them. It may be worth increasing your remodeling budget and rip that band-aid off now while the rest of your kitchen is being reimagined!

Whichever direction you decide, the key to hiding kitchen soffits is to make it look purposeful and design-thoughtful. If your budget doesn’t stretch to getting rid of them, use it as a way to add architectural detail to your kitchen instead.

Ready to work with a local home remodeling company who can help you figure out what’s possible in your kitchen? Get in touch! Our consultations are FREE and there is no obligation.

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