What kind of wall cabinets are you envisioning for your new kitchen? Are you picturing cabinets that extend to the ceiling or leave a space? Or are you not yet sure?
If you’re still determining the look you want for your wall cabinets and you’re shopping for semi custom cabinets, consider using transom cabinets. Transom cabinets are the shorter cabinets placed above the usual wall cabinets. They typically fill the vertical gap left between the top of the normal height wall cabinet and the ceiling.
The word transom means a horizontal structural element such as a beam or a crosspiece. Transom windows above doors were useful in the past because they allowed for air flow and light without loss of privacy, plus they were secure: It would be a challenge to squeeze through that small space at the top of the door! You might have noticed them when you’ve been in an older building. Transoms were highly functional back in the days before air conditioning, and they were often treated as decorative elements as well.
In your new kitchen, transom cabinets also have the potential to be highly functional as well as decorative. Using transom cabinets in your new kitchen makes sense for several reasons. Our three favorites are below:
One: Transom cabinets use what would otherwise be wasted (dusty) space
I grew up in a house with wall cabinets that left a good 12 to 16 inches vacant between the top of the cabinet and the ceiling. My mother stored some decorative items up there, but I remember that space being—in my mind—wasted and dusty. We didn’t use any of the items stored on top of the cabinets, and if we had wanted to, they likely would have been dusty dirty because it was a pain to get up there and clean that awkward space.
Transom cabinets can be used to close that space and make it functional and decorative.
Two: Transom cabinets can add to your kitchen’s design
Transom cabinets can also embellish your kitchen’s design, because you can be more ornate with these smaller top cabinets. Many homeowners and designers who choose to use transom cabinets opt for semi custom cabinets with glass fronts or other decorative elements. These types of details would be impractical on the wall cabinets used daily, or even overpowering to the overall kitchen design. Used only on the transom cabinets, however, these embellishments are like accessories enhancing your kitchen design.
On the other hand, you can also keep a streamlined look, and use the same style of semi custom cabinets for the transom cabinets as for the wall ones. This upper area is one with many design options, and when it comes to transom cabinets, you have a lot of flexibility.
Three: Transom cabinets provide extra storage
Although you could use the tops of your wall cabinets for storage, that can look cluttered and messy (plus be a dusting nightmare as in my childhood home). With transom cabinets, however, you add functional storage to your kitchen, for those items you don’t often need. If you choose glass front transom cabinets, you can use that storage space to highlight favorite pottery pieces or other decorative elements. Or solid front transom cabinets can hide less attractive kitchen items such as the turkey roaster you only use once a year—or the yogurt maker you only used once before but someday will try again.
Transom cabinets can also be used for decorative lighting in your new kitchen, to showcase a collection, or a myriad of other reasons. But regardless of the reasons you choose to use them, transom cabinets are always a good idea in our kitchen design book!