What to Do With Kitchen Soffits

I’ve posted about this before on this blog and on my home staging blog – but since this project has been featured on some other blogs and the topic is very popular, I thought it would be a great idea to post it once more with some additional information on how I created the look.
kitchen soffit before, add crown molding, how to alter soffits in kitchens

Add crown molding to your soffit area to create height

Soffits (or bulkheads) above kitchen cabinetry make a home feel dated. And if you paint the soffit a contrasting color, it only makes your cabinetry seem smaller and it makes the height of the kitchen less tall.

1) If your cabinets are in good shape, you should add crown molding to the ceiling above the cabinets and add some trim molding to the bottom of the soffit. 

faux woodgraining, kitchen soffits, matching graining to kictehn cabinets, adding height to kitchen cabinets, home staging ideas

Create a color that is close to the base color of your cabinets and add graining layers

2) Since these cabinets were in great shape, we decided to go with an oak woodgraining for the soffits and moldings. The “trick” to getting the oak woodgrain (or any faux wood) right is to try to match the underlying color of the cabinets.  Oak has a glow to it so I first used

  • a medium tone yellow base paint (1 part Woody Yellow and 1 part Neutral White basecoat from Faux Effects).
  • Then I did a pale gold metallic paint over that (a pale wheat color from Faux Effects Metal Glow line). You could also just do a gold glaze over the basecoat – just enough to give it a glow.

decorated kitchen soffit afer with faux woodgrained effectI made up a glaze for the woodgraining layer.  I used Chestnut Brown and Earth Brown Glaze and went over (in sections) the soffit and moldings.  I created the woodgrain by removing the glaze with a wipe out tool.  I used torn pieces of corrugated cardboard.  Then when it was dry, I took a paintbrush and darkened the grain to match what I was seeing in the cabinetry.  I also used a graining comb for the smaller areas and around the wood grained areas (you can buy this at Home Dept I believe – or at Michael’s).

  • Then I overgrained the entire surface with the same graining material as the first layer.  I had to adjust the color here and there because the color of the oak cabinets differed in various sections.  Some I had to make a bit darker…some cooler.  Then after everything was dry – I did a faux marquetry design on the soffit…the fun part of the job!
3) You could use any border stencil for this last decoration. This part is, of course, optional!
  •  I used the Renaissance Scroll from Jeff Raum stencils. I used some Mahogany, Ebony and Cherry Stain and Seal from Faux Effects for this technique. However, you could also look at Royal Design Studio’s line of stencils.  The owner, Melanie, has many that I love – the Showcase Scroll is one of my favorites.  If you’d like to try a carved wood look, try the Palermo Scroll or Endless Acanthus Scroll.
It takes time and a lot of practice to do woodgraining, but it’s worth it to take the time to learn.  It has come in so handy so many times for me.  If you don’t have the time (or patience) and you’d like to re-do your cabinets that have soffits – you can paint them a white or off white and antique them and it will give you that updated look.  As long as you add the crown molding, your cabinetry will seem taller.
Hope you enjoyed this!
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12 Responses to What to Do With Kitchen Soffits

  1. dee dee says:

    What a wonderful updated change!
    dee dee

  2. mcvick says:

    wow! i'd never know that was painted, looks fabulous!

  3. Now that's what I call an update! It looks amazing, you've got skills! Thank you so much for sharing this with us, it's a fabulous idea. We are your new followers!

  4. Debra says:

    It looks great! I love the stencil. At first I though it was engraved in the wood. Your hard work sure paid off…

  5. What a wonderful transformation, love the height added. Thanks so much for linking up.

  6. It looks lovely. Well done! Thank you for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things hop. Wishing you a happy weekend. xo
    Katherines Corner recently posted..Get CozyMy Profile

  7. Deb Beck says:

    I just luv what you did with the kitchen soffits. I would like to do this in my kitchen. My soffits have lights in them instead of the ceiling. Is there a way I can still do this?

    • Linda says:

      Hi Deb – thanks for visiting the blog! I think I would need to see a picture of your soffits. I am assuming that the lights are underneath. If that’s so – I don’t think there would be a problem doing exactly what I did. It’s just a little tougher doing some graining with an impediment there. Could you remove the casing to the lights while you paint etc? I have done decorative finishes on ceilings that have recessed lighting fixtures – and I was able to loosen up the round collar around them – to let me get underneath to do the finish. I am guessing you would need to do something similar.

      You can email me at linda.leyble@gmail.com

      Hope this helps you! Thanks again for writing,


  8. Venessa says:

    We had to put ours on hold due to my mother-in-law’s passing. But now it’s almost done and I can’t wait. It looks so good!


    • Linda says:

      That is so great Venessa – I can’t wait to see the job you guys did. I will post about it here on the blog! I know it will look great!


  9. wow, that look like so much work. and from now on I am going to dress to match my project! lol!
    Thanks so much for linking up to support Habitat. Good luck and hope to see you back next week!
    Jocie@OPC The Better Half recently posted..Beware of Using R-Values Alone to Compare InsulationMy Profile

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