Base Cabinet Height Changes the Look

One of the most standard of cabinet configurations is the ‘hutch’ (also referred to as a ‘hutch & base’). It consists of a unit of shelves placed above a lower cabinet ( that has  either doors or drawers). Most often the base cab is deeper than the upper cab. This format has proved to be so useful that virtually every kitchen is made this way.

I have written the following on my website ( on a page called ‘design & construction’)… ‘The primary purpose of a piece determines it’s shape, it’s size & it’s location in the home or office.’ In other words… “form follows function”. This is perhaps, the most important axiom in utilitarian design. Simply put, a thing looks better when it’s appearance reflects what it was made for.

Having built more in this configuration than I can count after 30 years in this business, I’ve come to realize that the most notable variation in this look… is with the difference in height of the base cabinet(s).

I’ve built base cabs as short as 16″ in height and as tall as 54″. All according to the what they were to be used for…. but what I can’t help but notice is how interestingly different they make the cabinetry/furniture appear.

Let me give you some examples…

54" high bedroom dresser

47" high bedroom dresser - notice stained top & pulls / outside, vertical edge is a large chamfer with an applied bead

one of a pair of breakfast room built-ins / 36" high

30" high / clothes & TV storage... for their bedroom

17" high window seat

home office / (20" H) hanging files beneath tall book shelves

We once built a library (room) whose every wall was covered with cabinets configured like this last example you see above / these many years later I was told they (the children) actually stand on the bottom cabinet to access books on the top shelves, thereby avoiding the need for a step stool (though she won’t allow anyone to do that without removing their shoes first).

I should hope not…

Russell Hudson / HCM 2/15/13

2 thoughts on “Base Cabinet Height Changes the Look”

  1. I enjoyed looking at all your projects. The clean lines and pride I could see you put into each project, will be calling you in the future for some work for me.

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