Architectural Home Designs & Decorating Ideas

Optimize Your Kitchen With the Ideal Upper Cabinet Depth

Gabriela Connell
3 minute read

When designing or remodeling a kitchen, one of the most important elements to get right is the depth of your upper cabinets. While most standard upper cabinets are 12-15 inches deep, choosing a depth outside of that range can help you better optimize your kitchen’s storage capacity and workflow.

What is the Standard Upper Cabinet Depth?

The most commonly used depth for upper kitchen cabinets falls between 12 and 15 inches. 12 inches is the absolute minimum depth to be functional, while 15 inches provides additional storage space.

This 12-15 inch depth range has become standard because it offers a good balance of storage capacity and accessibility. The contents of standard depth upper cabinets are easy to see and reach, unlike deeper cabinets where things get lost in the back. Standard depths also work well for most kitchen layouts and budgets.

upper kitchen cabinet depth

Pros of Standard Depth Cabinets

Cons of Standard Depth Cabinets

Factors to Consider When Choosing Depth

While 12-15 inches may be standard, the ideal upper cabinet depth for your kitchen depends on several factors:

Kitchen Layout & Workflow

Deeper cabinet depths around 18-24 inches work better in large, open kitchen layouts where you have plenty of room to reach in. For small or galley style kitchens, shallower 12 inch depths are usually ideal.

Consider how you utilize your kitchen and circulate through the space. Upper cabinets should enhance your kitchen workflow, not hinder it.

Usage & Needed Storage Capacity

If you need to maximize kitchen storage, deeper cabinets provide significantly more space. The contents of deeper cabinets can be harder to access however. Opt for shallower if ease of access is more important than volume of storage.

Kitchen Aesthetic

The look of your kitchen may dictate ideal cabinet depths. Glass cabinet fronts help deeper cabinets feel less closed in. Custom trim can also help deeper cabinets feel integrated.

Cabinet Height & Position

The relationship between your upper cabinets and other elements like windows or countertops impacts the depth options. Avoid depths that leave you with too little clearance.

Custom Cabinet Depth Options

While standard cabinet depths work for many kitchens, custom dimensions can help optimize your layout.

Shallower Than Standard Depth

Some choose to go with shallower cabinet depths less than 12 inches. The pros of this approach include very easy access and good visibility of contents. The cons are reduced storage capacity, so you need more cabinets to make up for it.

Deeper Than Standard Depth

Custom deeper cabinet dimensions range from 15 inches to 24 inches. The pros of deeper cabinets are the significant increase in storage capacity. However, contents can be extremely hard to access, resulting in wasted space.

Extra Deep Wall Cabinets

Some utilize extra deep wall cabinets greater than 24 inches for specialty storage needs. These require slides, roll-outs, or other organizers to access contents. An example is a spices cabinet that pulls out.

Pro Tips for Maximizing Storage

Regardless of depth, there are several tips that can help you make the most of your upper cabinet storage capacity:

Choosing the ideal upper cabinet depth involves balancing your need for storage capacity with ease of accessibility. The 12-15 inch standard depth works well for most kitchens, but custom depths can help you better optimize your unique space and workflow.

Make sure to account for factors like kitchen layout, workflow, height above countertops, and aesthetic style when selecting depth. With smart design choices and storage accessories, you can enjoy upper cabinets that both maximize space and look beautiful.