The typical 12-inch space above the wall cabinets can be left open for baskets, cookware, or decorations, or it can be closed off with a drywalled kitchen soffit. If you keep the space open, you can add crown molding on top of the wall cabinets to provide an attractive border. The drywalled kitchen soffit can be extended in front of the wall cabinets, and recessed lights can be installed in the soffit. An extended kitchen soffit brings the lights in front of the wall cabinets and closer to the work area. If you have a soffit, ask for a recessed light over the sink rather than a surface-mounted fixture.
Kitchen Soffits with 9’ Ceilings
Nine-foot ceilings will have an additional foot of space above standard wall cabinets. You can leave this 2-foot space open, or you can create a stepped 2-foot soffit with recessed lights above the cabinets. Another alternative is to replace the standard 30-inch wall cabinets with 42-inch cabinets, which provide more storage, although at a higher reach.
For more information about kitchen soffits, see Designing a Modular Home and Modular Home Specifications and Features in my book The Modular Home.