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Old 09-02-2012, 07:00 PM   #1
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Removing soffit above kitchen cabinets


I have a pretty small kitchen (13' x 11') and at some point the area above the wall cabinets was boxed in, which is such a huge waste of space and make the kitchen look cramped. I would like to remove the soffit and open up the kitchen, but I am not sure how to tell if the cabinets are connected to or using that structure to stay up. Is there a way to tell if the cabinets are secured to the wall (or soffit structure), or secure the cabinets to the wall better and be sure I can remove the soffit?

Edit: These are not pre-built cabinets, the cabinets are built in and original to the kitchen. I started looking for screws, and I cannot find any (covered up with putty?). I do however see nail holes in the top of the cabinet roof's near the front of the cabinet which appear to be securing it to the framing in the soffit. I wonder if this just to marry them together, or is it a structural connection?

Edit: Here is a crappy pic of the kitchen.

Thanks in advance.


Last edited by somecallmemike; 09-02-2012 at 07:43 PM.
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Old 09-02-2012, 07:14 PM   #2
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Removing soffit above kitchen cabinets


I have never seen cabinets supported by soffits. That's not how it's done. Look inside the cabinets - you should be able to see the screws holding them to the walls.

There could still be wiring or something else running through the soffits.

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Old 09-02-2012, 07:17 PM   #3
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Removing soffit above kitchen cabinets


I'd guess there's duct work, plumbing or something else covered up with that soffit.
If not it's highly unlikly the cabinets are held up by it. Most often there attached to the wall.
Just look in the back of the cabinets for screws.
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Old 09-02-2012, 07:28 PM   #4
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Removing soffit above kitchen cabinets


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I'd guess there's duct work, plumbing or something else covered up with that soffit.
If not it's highly unlikly the cabinets are held up by it. Most often there attached to the wall.
Just look in the back of the cabinets for screws.
There is only knee walls and a bedroom above the kitchen, so I am pretty sure there would be no duct work or unmovable structures. I know there is some wiring, but that's not hard to move.

Here is a crappy pic of the kitchen. (We know, the color is awful. It's what was there when we bought it )
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Old 09-02-2012, 07:36 PM   #5
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Removing soffit above kitchen cabinets


Other then the paint color needing to be changed I do not see where going to all that work has anything to do with making the room look bigger.
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Old 09-02-2012, 07:46 PM   #6
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Removing soffit above kitchen cabinets


Before you order cabinets--cut a couple of holes and look into the soffits---Most hidden stuff can be moved---but a few items.like duct work or main second floor drains ,are a lot of work. So check first---

I've been in the situation before--and rerouting the main stack is not a lot of fun.
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Old 09-02-2012, 07:59 PM   #7
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Removing soffit above kitchen cabinets


Your kitchen is bigger than ours....do your cabinets look anything like this?





We gutted it.....vaulted the ceiling.....that space above the cabinets is wonderful.....





If your going to do that much work....step back and look at the total picture....maybe you have part of a wall that is non-load bearing....

Our next door neighbors took out a wall between their kitchen and the living room....(installed proper beams...all to code)....the effect is outstanding.....no loss of kitchen space.....but did wonders for the overall look....

So....stand back....think outside the 'traditional' box.....but do so safely.
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Old 09-02-2012, 08:10 PM   #8
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DDawg, that's amazing! I love the vaulted ceiling, you guys did an amazing job. Here is a picture of my kitchen as of five minutes ago:

I actually did open up space between where I am standing in the dining room into the kitchen by about two feet with an arched door frame.

I want to take out the soffit above all the cabinets and simply finish the top of the cabinets with a crown molding like you did, put some rope lights up there for effect, probably get rid of the fan and put up some can lights as a first step. After that I am going to add a trim molding to all the flat panel doors, paint all the woodwork a nice off white, get an apron sink, granite counter tops, and new faucet. Then finally do the floor (can't decide on tile or wood).

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Old 09-02-2012, 08:17 PM   #9
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Removing soffit above kitchen cabinets


Most soffits are not much work to remove---that's the time to add can lights and other upgrades also---
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Old 09-02-2012, 08:20 PM   #10
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Removing soffit above kitchen cabinets


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Before you order cabinets--cut a couple of holes and look into the soffits---Most hidden stuff can be moved---but a few items.like duct work or main second floor drains ,are a lot of work. So check first---

I've been in the situation before--and rerouting the main stack is not a lot of fun.
I have a buddy with one of those snake cams where there is a little camera on the end of a maneuverable snake-like shaft the width of a pencil. I should grab that thing and do some exploratory missions into each part of the soffit from a small hole that wouldn't be noticed.
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Old 09-02-2012, 08:28 PM   #11
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Removing soffit above kitchen cabinets


Wow.....I could have fun with that kitchen.....

What kind of budget do you have?

Are you planning on replacing the cabinets? If so, a bit of advice.....check with a custom cabinet maker first.....for maybe a small % more, you can get twice the quality without having to settle for a one size fits all. You will never find me buying cabinet from a big box store (but then again, I build my own)

That window is begging to be opened up.....

And...it looks like you almost have enough room for an island....

A sketch of the layout and adjacent walls would be helpful....I think you have a wall that can come out.....breakfast bar?
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Old 09-02-2012, 09:54 PM   #12
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Removing soffit above kitchen cabinets


It does open the room up,plus you can put crown moulding or some other type of trim to dress it up.

It does not look like you have any vents in the sofit so i would highly doubt there is any duck work in there.And if there is electric in there you can just cut the drywall out on the walls and move the electric inside the walls since you will have some drywall/taping work to do.

If there is nails in the front edge of the cabinets more than likely they are going into the soffit .Somebody said its not the way to do it but i have seen dumber things.I would take the nails or screws out of the back of the cabinets and pry down on the cabinet enough to get a sawzall blade in there and cut the nails off.
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Old 09-03-2012, 05:23 AM   #13
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Removing soffit above kitchen cabinets


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Originally Posted by somecallmemike View Post
I have a pretty small kitchen (13' x 11') and at some point the area above the wall cabinets was boxed in, which is such a huge waste of space and make the kitchen look cramped. I would like to remove the soffit and open up the kitchen, but I am not sure how to tell if the cabinets are connected to or using that structure to stay up. Is there a way to tell if the cabinets are secured to the wall (or soffit structure), or secure the cabinets to the wall better and be sure I can remove the soffit?

Edit: These are not pre-built cabinets, the cabinets are built in and original to the kitchen. I started looking for screws, and I cannot find any (covered up with putty?). I do however see nail holes in the top of the cabinet roof's near the front of the cabinet which appear to be securing it to the framing in the soffit. I wonder if this just to marry them together, or is it a structural connection?

Edit: Here is a crappy pic of the kitchen.

Thanks in advance.
Did you Google and read the article from Reliable Modeler? I think that article is wrong as most kitchen cabinets (well at least in my experience) should be attached to wall studs for max. weight carrying capacity.

Soffits are usually constructed with 1x2 or 1x3 to hide water pipes, HVAC ducts, wires, etc. inside and should not carry any weight.

BTW, my old kitchen looked almost exactly like yours (withe same vintage cabinets!). When I remodeled my kitchen, I made small openings and took some camera shots to see exactly what was inside so that I can decide on removing them or not (I found some crazy water pipe work, DWV pipes, HVAC ducts, etc.)

Through these openings, you should also be able to see what kind of lumber was used. 2x4 *might* be used to carry some weight for the cabinets, but if they are 1x2 or 1x3, they are probably not.

Are you going to replace those cabinets with taller ones or re-use them? Either way, find wall studs and attach cabinets with 3" screws (or if the studs don't line up, install a French cleat)






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Old 09-03-2012, 07:12 AM   #14
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Removing soffit above kitchen cabinets


If it were me, I'd remove those soffits if possible and have a custom cabinet maker build cabinets to the ceiling to gain the extra storage space. I store the things I only use seasonally up high to get them out of my way.

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Old 09-03-2012, 09:44 AM   #15
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Removing soffit above kitchen cabinets


I see a hood vent over the stove.. Perhaps there might be a vent over the stove that goes to the same outside wall of the window over the sink? If there isn't one and your hood just recirculates, it might not be a bad idea plumbing a vent to the exterior wall. As others said, now's definitely the time to plan things out how you really want it if you're really going to tear into things, assuming the budget allows. If you're doing all the work yourself, the cost might not be that much more.

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