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Lower ceiling is better?

last month

We are doing a gut reno on our 12x15 kitchen. The ceilings are about 7’6”, which is about 6” lower than elsewhere on the first floor. We assumed the dropped ceiling was concealing some plumbing or wiring but some exploratory demo showed that the 9” space above is empty, and the original plaster ceiling appears to be in decent shape.

My family is short (wife is 5’ tall) so even with 30” cabinets the top shelf will be hard for them to access. Keeping the ceiling at 7’6” and doing 18” between base and wall cabinets leaves us with 6” to fill with soffit and trim (or to leave empty). An 8’3” ceiling leaves 15” above the cabinets. Given the height of the family, the expense of adding more cabinets above (along about 22’ of wall), and the fact that we are not the type to add storage just for display, I can’t imagine adding doing stacked cabinets.

At no point has the ceiling height ever felt too low to us.

The tops of the windows are about 8” below the current ceiling, and for various reasons (cost, lead paint on the exterior) reframing them to be higher is not super appealing. Having 17” above the windows (42” tall, bottoms 4” above the countertop) seems out of proportion.

What would you do - keep the lower ceiling or open it back up to 8’3”?

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