« Kitchen refresh, Before & After | Main | Let there be Light! »

The mantel shelf - an alternative to upper cupboards

While re-imagining the side of the kitchen where we decided to move the stove and also held the refrigerator and dishwasher, the question that I kept facing was, what do we want to do above the stove? After evaluating the amount of cabinet space that I now had, I felt that I wanted to do something a bit different. 

We discussed building additional upper cabinets to match the existing ones on the other side of the room, but we really didn't need the storage space. I was a bit concerned about the room feeling more closed in with uppers on all sides. I began searching the web for options. Finding several mantel-esque shelves above the stove, that look really started to grow on me.

The look is nice, but it all comes down to functionality. So we began to identify what the needs were. It needed to house a light above the stove, There is nothing worse than not being able to see what is cooking on the stove. I also wanted power outlets and we needed to find some way to have at arms length, the spices we regularly cook with.

The basic structure is built from 2x4s. Perhaps overkill, but I had considered using it to store our plates, bowls, glasses, etc. in an open storage configuration and the last thing we wanted was to worry about it all crashing down. We used the same moulding that we had selected for above the doorways to trim the front, raising it just slightly creating a small lip so that nothing would roll off. The overall height is about 7 inches.

Creating a place for spices was another challenge. I was unable to find a spice rack that would keep our most commonly used items close by, without cluttering the counter, had the oil-rubbed bronze finish, and allowed us to hold only what we actually used.

The idea came maybe there was a way to build a spice holder into the shelf. We talked through a number of options, but the height of some of the containers was a problem. Could it be a drawer, could there be a hidden door in the front of the shelf? Nothing was quite right. Then the idea came, what if the spices were stored on their sides, out of site, and then drop down when needed? Tom quickly built a couple of wooden boxes and we picked up some hinges and added them to the underside of the shelf.

The problem was that once the latch was released, the the box dropped down and all of the spices fell out. We resolved this problem by adding a small wooden block with one side angled to hold the box at the appropriate angle. When closed the entire box is concealed within the shelf, one on either side of the stove.

With the need for support, having outlets hidden under the shelf would be a problem, so we chose to turn them on their side to be better concealed for the cleanest overall look. I also had an under-cabinet jar opener which found a home above the stove as well.

So, the shelf serves to be home to:

  • A light above the stove
  • Two spice boxes
  • Two power outlets (4 plugs total)
  • Jar opener

Still playing with how I would like to decorate the new space above, I pulled a couple of pieces of artwork that I already had and placed it in place for the interim. I have a few thoughts on what I would like to house permanently there. Unsure of what kind of grease, moisture and heat that area is going to be exposed to, I decided to give it a little time before placing anything too valuable there. So far, there seem to be no issues, and I can't wait to do something more striking for Christmas, and then perhaps I will be ready to create some art specifically for that space.

Up next....The cabinet door followup and installation.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend