Crown Mouldings on Varying Cabinet Heights

crown mouldings on different height cabinets - cabinets by queenstown Cabinet crown mouldings are the finishing touch for a kitchen renovation but you need to plan for them early in the project. Once the cabinets are bought (or built) and installed your options are limited to the situation you have in front of you.

Using cabinets of varying heights or "landscaping" as we call it, is a common way to add visual interest to a kitchen. This requires a bit more up-front planning and thought in order to be successful – especially when it comes down to the crown mouldings.

Return or die

As I wrote in my previous article "Cabinet Crown Moulding Tips", crown mouldings need to end in one of two ways:

  •  return to a wall or cabinet face (usually) at a 90 degree angle
  •  butt or "die" into the side an adjacent cabinet at 90 degrees

I’ve seen examples where people have tried other workarounds and  “fixes" – and that’s exactly what they look like.

Three typical crown moulding examples

I’m going to show three examples of ways to deal with crown moulding at different heights. There are of course, more variations, but these three examples cover the basic design aspects that you need to consider during the planning stages.


Example # 1

This scenario includes both ways to end a lower level crown on adjacent cabinets. The left end of the lower crown dies into the side of a fascia and the right end returns to the face of a recessed light valance above the sink.elevation showing different height crown moulding

The key is that the taller cabinets MUST be deeper than the lower cabinets if you want the crown to die cleanly into the side. A typical 3" high crown will likely have a projection of less than that, but a good rule of thumb is that the taller cabinets should be at least 3" deeper than the lower level cabinets. 

3-d view of crown moulding on different cabinet heightsThis is most commonly seen on corner wall cabinets with the face at 45 degrees. Have a look at the display kitchens set up in your local building supply store and you’ll most likely see at least one of these.

At the right is a three – dimensional view of the cabinets shown in elevation above. There is just enough depth at the fascia above the corner cabinet to land the lower level crown cleanly into the side.

You may also want to consider a smaller scale crown on the lower cabinets with a projection of 1 1/2 – 2 inches. If you have frameless cabinets, adding a panel to the side of the taller cabinet that’s flush to the face of the door will maximize the space to land the lower crown.

Example # 2

This scenario shows frameless wall cabinets flanking a framed cabinet with open shelves.elevation crown moulding return to arched top rail

The arched top rail above the open shelves adds a design element as well as providing landing space for the lower crown to return.

Note that in the examples above that the upper part of both the open shelves and the window valance extend beyond the cabinets beside them.

Example # 3

This example shows one way of dealing with varying height cabinets that are all the same depth.

elevation crown moulding return to fascia
Adding a fascia above the lower cabinet provides a place for the lower crown to return even though it’s on the same plane. Although the cabinet above the microwave is shorter, it becomes a focal point in the room by raising the crown to the ceiling and adding a design element to break up what would otherwise be a large blank surface.

Lots of options

Planning for all your mouldings early in your project will offer the most flexibility and give you the best results. Get moulding samples and measure the height and projection rather than guess and discover after the fact that you "could have" made something work.

There’s plenty more to cover on the subject of crown mouldings and I’ll look at other aspects in upcoming articles.

Image: CabinetsByQueenstown


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