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June 1, 2022

Including Bulkheads in Your Kitchen Design: The Pros and Cons

When we say bulkheads are THE most important part of open-plan kitchens, we are not kidding!

Have you ever walked through an open home and noticed all the nicely decorated rooms, the built-in wardrobes and bright, modern bathrooms…

…then you step foot into the kitchen and something just doesn’t seem right? 

I experienced this not that long ago. The house had been freshly renovated and ready to be sold. But they had missed one element that would have tied it all together.

The kitchen looked like it had been added as an afterthought.

The kitchen design was not the culprit this time. Actually, it was pretty much on point, and the quality of the fittings was great.

The only thing that they should have done differently was taking a minute to look up.

The cabinetry, like most kitchens, finished short of the ceiling, but they had not finished off the installation with a bulkhead. 

If you don’t yet know what a bulkhead is, let us explain:

A bulkhead is what is added to the top of the tall cabinetry in a kitchen to tie it all into the space. It is a filler piece that is often constructed by the installation team with plasterboard and painted the same colour as the walls. Then if there is cornice in the room, they will run the cornice around the front of the bulkhead.

A bulkhead is just that final piece of a kitchen installation that makes the kitchen feel that it is meant to be there.

So, do you absolutely NEED to have a bulkhead?

The answer is no you don’t. It comes down to personal choice, but here are some more pros and cons for you to consider!

Why They Can Be Good for Design

In addition to being functional, bulkheads are great design features too! Here’s how:

  • Appearance: Bulkheads are a practical way to achieve an elegant open-spaced kitchen design. Bulkheads can also make the kitchen feel intentional and built-in, making it feel like a part of the house. It also makes the kitchen ceilings look taller overall, creating an illusion of more space! 
  • Decorative flair: A bulkhead can also be used to define a kitchen area, almost as a separate room (without closing in an open space) by creating one large bulkhead across the entire kitchen area, effectively lowering the ceiling in the kitchen. This can have a great effect in a large open plan setting.
  • Easier for cleaning: Bulkheads make it easier for you to keep your kitchen clean. The space above the cabinetry can become an area where dust collects. Bulkheads prevent that from happening.
  • Concealed wiring & plumbing: Bulkheads are great for hiding ducting for range hoods, electrical and in some cases, even plumbing.
Beautiful blue kitchen design with bulkheads in built

The Benefit of Not Having Kitchen Bulkheads  

While bulkheads provide both functional and aesthetic benefits, they have some downsides. 

  • Time-consuming: Obviously, having bulkheads installed as part of your new kitchen will take additional time on the part of the installers.
  • Preplanning is required: Adding bulkheads after the kitchen cabinetry has been installed is definitely not the preferred option. So as part of the kitchen design process, your kitchen designer should be asking if you would like to incorporate bulkheads.
  • Additional cost: As mentioned above, installing bulkheads, takes time. With that come increased installation costs. So you can save money by not including bulkheads.
  • Tall ceilings: Bulkheads are not really suited if you have tall ceilings or a raked ceiling.
Open plan kitchen with bulkheads over the cabintery

So, in short, adding bulkheads into your kitchen is a great finishing touch. It will cost a little bit more, but they are something that you should seriously consider.

If you’re unsure of whether to install a bulkhead in your kitchen or not, consider asking an expert on kitchen design.

Luckily, you don’t have to look far. At Hobart Kitchen Transformations, we have been helping Australians renovate their kitchens for over ten years. 

Click here to book a time to chat with our kitchen experts!

We will sort out your bulkhead dilemma in no time!

In the meantime, check out some other helpful blogs on kitchen design:

How to Design The Perfect Kitchen to Suit Your Home

Designing Your Dream Kitchen? These Are The Three Most Important Things To Consider

Kitchen Designs: How to Get The Most Out of Your Budget


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