Jenny Cazares| Dean Cabinetry
Author: Jenny Cazares

What are double upper cabinets?

Two tier or double upper cabinets are wall cabinets that are stacked on top of each other. They can vary in size, depending on the height of your ceiling.

double upper cabinets
Two Tier cabinets with interior lighting Dean Cabinetry

What is the ideal ceiling height for installing double stacked cabinets?

If your ceiling height is over 102” you may want to consider double stacked wall cabinets.

If you have about a foot or more of space from the top of your wall cabinet to the ceiling, you might want to consider a second tier of cabinets. Leaving more than 9” between the top of your wall cabinets and the ceiling, might create an awkward space aesthetically, and be difficult to clean.

If you have 12” or more between your wall cabinets and the ceiling, this would be a great opportunity to add a second tier with a 12”, 14”, 18”, or 24” tall cabinet, depending on the size of your first level cabinet.

If you have 10’ of ceiling height, you will have more flexibility on sizing for the 2nd tier cabinets, and a larger crown molding if you choose to do so.

What can I display in my 2nd tier cabinets?

  • decorative items; such as china, vases, and pottery
  • heirlooms or antiques
  • seasonal items
  • plants and baskets

Should my 2nd tier doors be a solid panel or have glass in the door?

Doors with a solid panel are a great option if you will be storing items you prefer to hide or items you don’t use often; small appliances, vases, small platers, pitchers, etc. 

Doors with glass are a lovely choice if you plan on displaying decorative items such as vases, china, and pottery.

Another option is to have some cabinets with solid doors and some with glass. You can work with your designer to determine the best locations to have them, to ensure the look is aesthetically pleasing.  

You have the option to also customize your glass doors with specialty glass; with or without mullions. 

Can my tiered cabinets be open cabinets, without doors?

Although this is not as common of a look, your 2nd tier cabinets can be left open. They can be used to display items, decorative baskets, and plants. Note that you will probably need to dust them more often.

Can I add lighting inside my tiered cabinets?

Lighting would be added to cabinets having doors with glass. Lighting will create visual interest and depth to your kitchen cabinets. It will draw your eye to those cabinets with light, and the items on display in those cabinets. It also adds an excellent accent, especially in the evening or in the early morning. 

Your electrician can run the wiring (before the cabinets are installed) which will be connected to a switch. She will then install the lighting fixture after your kitchen cabinets have been installed. You would then easily be able to turn the lights on and off; they can even have a dimmer. The most common lighting used in cabinets is recessed lighting or smaller LED lighting.

Can I add lighting to my tiered cabinets after installation?

You can add lighting afterwards; however, it would be more challenging for the electrician and more costly. It is much easier for them to be installed without any obstruction if everything is prepared before the cabinet installation.

If you’re on a budget you can add LED lighting that is battery operated, but you will need to turn them on and off each time you use them, instead of having them wired to an outlet switch.

Should I add crown molding with my tiered cabinets?

Crown molding at the top of your cabinets is a beautiful look, but not everyone likes the look of crown molding, some want to keep it clean and simple. Like shaker cabinets without crown molding for a more modern look.

If you do want to add crown molding, you want to make sure there is adequate room. The available space between your 2nd tier cabinets and the ceiling will determine the size of the crown molding you can have.

If you are using full overlay cabinets, and you don’t have room for crown molding, you want to make sure there is enough space between the top of your cabinets and your ceiling, for the doors to open properly.

shaker cabinets without crown molding
Two tier cabinets without crown molding-Pinterest

Can the interior of my tiered cabinets be a different finish than my cabinets?

If you order semi-custom or custom cabinets, you might be able to choose to have the interior painted a different color than the exterior of your cabinets. You might also be able to have a wood finish applied to the interior of the cabinets. This would be an additional cost, but it might just be the look you are after!

It might create a beautiful effect, and with the right lighting, a lovely feature in your kitchen.

double cabinets with glass doors
Glass door cabinets with wood inserts by Nicole Janes Design

How can I access my tiered cabinets?

The most common way to access your second tiered cabinets is with a stool or step ladder; some designers have come up with creative ideas like using decorative old wood ladders.

You can hang your own ladders that glide on rails, on Amazon

This is a brilliant concept for your kitchen, it makes accessing your upper cabinets a breeze. These ladders are detachable and you can lift the ladder and move it to another rail attached to your cabinets, as needed.

upper cabinets
Ladder access for high upper cabinet height

When you meet with your kitchen cabinet partner, share your 2nd tier design inspiration photos with them. Ask about the possibility of, and options for, second tier cabinets in your kitchen.

Your designer will collaborate with you to incorporate your ideas, and create a beautiful layout and look for you and your kitchen.