Kitchen Design Details:  Cornices, Pelmets and Plinths

Cornices, pelmets and plinths provide the finishing touches to a bespoke kitchen. Designed to tie the whole kitchen together into one harmonious design rather than individual cabinets, these design elements serve more than just a practical purpose.

So, we thought we’d explore what each feature is, and the impact it has on a kitchen’s overall design and function.

What is a kitchen cabinet cornice?

A kitchen cabinet cornice is a decorative trim or moulding that sits neatly on top of a kitchen cabinet to create a more finished and polished look. Cornices can be straight, curved, traditional, shaker or even more ornate to suit either a traditional or contemporary design.

As well as enhancing the visual appeal of the kitchen, it can also help to soften the edges of the cabinets to create a cosier, more ergonomic design.

A cornice can also be cleverly used to frame your kitchen so that it works effortlessly with your ceiling. Take this beautiful, curved cornice moulding below. Notice how the cabinet corner follows the corner of the ceiling mould, drawing the eye upwards.

Curved cornice moulding
Curved cornice moulding

By installing a cornice at the top of the cabinets, the unevenness of a ceiling can also be visually concealed. This type of cornice, called a ceiling scribe fillet, can also be designed to follow the contours of an uneven ceiling, making it appear more intentional and purposeful.

Traditional style cornice moulding in solid oak
Traditional style cornice moulding in solid oak

Can cornices be carried over an oven?

Yes, they can. The cornice is installed above the oven housing unit to create a finished look and a seamless transition from the cabinets to the ceiling. It is made of the same material as the kitchen cabinets and can be designed to match the style and finish of the cabinetry.

Oven housing cornices come in a variety of styles and designs, from simple and plain to more ornate and decorative. With a bespoke kitchen design, you’ll also usually find vents that sit above the oven and below the cornice, as pictured below:

Neff hide and slide ovens
Oven housing with ceiling scribe fillet

What is a kitchen pelmet?

It’s quite easy to get a kitchen pelmet confused with a cornice, but the simple way to remember the difference is that a cornice goes around the top of the cabinet and the pelmet around the bottom.

Kitchen pelmets, much like cornices, have both an aesthetic and practical purpose. Design wise, they add depth and length to the cabinetry, and practically, they help to conceal worktop light fittings and other fixtures and fittings.

Again, like cornices, they can be curved or straight and are painted to match the rest of your cabinets. They can simply be part of the wall cabinet as pictured below:

Cookery book shelves
Shaker style pelmet

What are kitchen plinths?

A kitchen plinth is a decorative panel or board that is typically installed at the bottom of kitchen cabinets, just above the floor. It is usually made from the same material as the cabinets and is designed to blend seamlessly with the cabinetry.

The main function of a kitchen plinth is to conceal the feet or legs of the cabinets to give a continuous and streamlined appearance. It can also help to prevent dust and debris from accumulating under the cabinets and prevent moisture or water damage.

Kitchen plinths can come in a variety of styles and designs to match the overall aesthetic of the kitchen – the most popular being inset design.

An inset or recessed plinth is when the plinth sits back a little from the base of the cabinet and doors, giving your feet space to be neatly tucked away as you cook.

There two other types of plinths that are also found within kitchen designs – plinth skirting and in-line.

Plinth skirting essentially creates a solid base at floor level. There’s no recessed gap for you to place your feet. Skirting is designed to completely cover the feet or legs of the kitchen cabinets.

In-line plinths, which you may or may not have heard of, run continuously along the base of the kitchen cabinets. Unlike traditional kitchen plinths, which are installed separately under each cabinet, in-line plinths create a seamless, streamlined look across the entire length of the kitchen.

Handmade kitchen with chrome handles
Inset plinth with shaped bottom rail

What is skirting and how is it different from a plinth?

It’s easy to confuse the two terms, especially as you have ‘plinth skirting’ but plinths and skirting are different.

Unlike a plinth, skirting sits on the outside of the base cabinets, and is usually more decorative in its design. As such, skirting is used to draw the eye to freestanding furniture such as crockery cabinets, as shown in the picture below:

Tall cherry glazed crockery cabinet
Skirting on cherry crockery cabinet

How do you make the right design choice?

As with kitchen design aspect, your choice of plinth, pelmet and cornice all depends on your preferred finish, how you plan to use your kitchen and, most importantly, personal choice.

At Vale Designs, we involve you in the design process. Once we have a good idea of your preferences and have visited you at home, we discuss your kitchen in detail so that you make the right choice for your home.

You are, of course, welcome to come and visit us at our workshop in Aldringham, Suffolk. Just let us know when you plan to visit, and we can make sure someone is available to chat with you.