Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Decorating Above Your Cabinets

Back in North Carolina, I was lucky enough to have about eighteen inches of space above my kitchen cabinets to play with. My sweet hubby installed some over-cabinet lighting and I went with a colored glass theme: lining up large pieces of brilliantly colored art glass for the light to shine through...tall vases and pitchers and bottles in cobalt and amethyst and emerald.

Unfortunately I never took pictures of those cabinets, but they are in the background in this old pic from when some of Hubby's family visited us back in 2009. The cabinets are very light in color, so the glassware added color without being too "heavy". And I loved the way the light from below would reflect the colors on the ceiling.

Our new house in Idaho is much more rustic in feel than the traditional home we had in North Carolina, so I wanted to reflect that difference in the blank palette above the kitchen cabinets. Unfortunately our furniture is all still the same—what I think of as "elegant country"—so going with a strictly "primitive" theme with its grungy tea-stained look was out. And a "lodge" theme with bears and moose wouldn't work, either.

The experts would say that I should display a "collection" up there, like baskets or large plates or different large pieces of creamware. I don't collect any of those things and my frugal self refuses to let me buy anything for this purpose. You know me, I collect books, but I don't think my books would look very interesting; and my little Wade figurines are too small. So what's a girl to do?

Lucky for me, I have boxes and boxes full of antique smalls, including truly vintage primitives, which DO fit in with the style that we're comfortable with. These things are leftover inventory from my antiques shop, some of which had never been unpacked from the day that I bought them. And I was dying to pull them out to play!

Here's what I started with...totally bare except for one lonely stoneware bowl that I'd come across while unpacking my kitchen things.

And here's where we stand now, although it's still a work in progress. I have one "problem" area that needs a lot of help, plus I'm not thrilled with the "cohesiveness" of the displays. 

And here's how it looks at night:

Here I stood an antique wooden crate on its side, hung a scale from the slat, and tucked a sewing accessories box with an old flour sifter on top inside the crate. That brown stoneware bowl was stuffed with creamy pip berries and a checked towel draped over its side. An old buttocks basket is filled with children's blocks, some of which are pulled out to spell "antiques" and a couple of wooden pins stand sentinel in the back.

This one I'm having trouble with the center section; it sits the closest to the ceiling and doesn't allow much room. On the left is a blue and white reproduction tobacco jar, which fits nicely in that space. In the middle is a small cast iron coffee grinder in bright red and a small salt-glazed bowl. To the right and in the corner is a cobbler's stand with shoe last, an old wooden protractor, and an antique kitchen clock.

Turning the corner, you'll find a neat pewter-looking stirrup and a new prim redware plate. The next section has an old wooden bucket with a towel, a wooden washboard, an aqua canning jar filled with clothes pins, and a folk art face jug.

The last section has a small handmade broom, a large copper tub, a cast iron trivet, old bottles, and a large cattle brand.


You'll have to forgive my daytime "after" pictures; I had a dickens of a time taking them in the middle of a today's snowstorm. Plus I'm having problems with my camera due to a mishap involving leaving it unattended on top of my washing machine...while the machine was running. But that's a story for another day.

Notice the over-cabinet lighting? That's my honey again...doing what he does best! But this time, rather than paying for expensive halogen cabinet lights, we took the advice of our local lighting professional: use Christmas lights.

That's right, we simply dug around in the Christmas storage boxes for some strings of mini twinkle lights that we weren't using any more, arranged them in a sort of racetrack on top of the cabinets, and tied them into the under-cabinet lighting wiring. And voilĂ ...ambiance lighting that doesn't use nearly as much electricity or burn as hot as halogen lighting. It doesn't give the more dramatic up-light effect of the halogen strips that we installed in the old kitchen, but it does provide enough light to draw your eye upwards and set off the displays.

I'll probably end up digging around in my old inventory and trying to find some more interesting things to display, but for now this is how it's going to be. Suggestions are always welcome!

So what do you display above your kitchen cabinets?



  1. Looks great Pam! Lots of great pieces!

    Carmen and the Primcats

  2. OH Pam I love your kitchen. And your displays are wonderful I miss that I use to have that space as well. but now do not.

    When I had the space like that I actually hung an old box on the wall above the space which made my display up front as well as towards the back if that makes sense? LOL

    I did the same with the light strands for lighting.

    Just beautiful


  3. Oh I love how you have it decked out..I must say I love this kitchen better then the NC one..and I love how you have it displayed..do you have any greenery you could put where that low problem area is? I can't wait to see it all done..you did a great job.;)

  4. I love all your wonderful vintage goodies!! I am drooling of course because I love these kinds of things, I do not have space above my cabinets so this kind of displaying is out for me. Yours looks very nice

  5. Oh, I love it and the lighting works great! I started putting just a few things above my refrigerator....a big basket and some antique bottles but I want to do something nautical. I want to find some authentic pieces though and not buy what I saw today at Hobby Lobby. So I will wait until I find exactly what I want and put it together a little at a time, I guess! Enjoy your evening, sweet friend! ♥

  6. Pam,
    I love all the old vintage things that you have displayed...also love what you did with the lights...everything looks great!! I wish I had space above my cabinets to display things.

  7. Your kitchen is really cool! I have cabinets to the ceiling so no decorating the tops for me! :) I would add a bit of greenery too....

  8. It's GORGEOUS, Pam! And what an idea about the lights. I'll have to remember that when we re do the kitchen.


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