Carpentry & CabinetsExpert Advice

Different Sized Cabinets

Q: I am remodeling a condo. The only wall of cabinets is 30 inches high connected to a soffit above. The soffit encloses a structural support beam and cannot be removed to place higher cabinets. Can I use 42-inch high upper cabinets starting where the 30-inch cabinets end? Would the transition of two different sizes look ok?

A: Let’s talk for a minute about structural beams. Most times, they are not as difficult to move or work around as is commonly believed. It is not a lot of work to raise a header above the ceiling line so that a flush condition can be achieved. If you are into a full remodel, it makes sense to consider doing this as it will most often create a whole new range of possibilities for your new layout.

What happens is that the existing ceiling on both sides of the beam are temporarily supported while the existing bearing wall or beam is removed. By carefully trimming any joists resting on this wall or beam so that they are flush with the edges, you can slide a new beam long enough to rest on a wall or post on both sides of the opening between the joists. Now all you have to do is hang the joists off of the side of the new beam with joist hangars and you have a flush ceiling and a bigger space!

As far as using varying height wall or even base cabinets goes, the only consideration is for proper clearances where they may be required for safety reasons, i.e. next to a stove. You will have to make the call aesthetically. It is always difficult to just “add” more cabinets onto the end of an existing run and have it look right, however, there have been many successful kitchen designs using varying height cabinets.

To discuss moving that beam to install cabinets at the same level, please visit our site at, type “Find A General Contractor” into the search box and submit a service request, explaining what you want to do in the additional details box.

If you just want to go with adding more cabinets, submit a request for “Install Cabinets.”

Good luck!

This information was brought to you by Darius Baker of D&J Kitchens & Baths in

Sacramento, CA.

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