Finding the Most Ideal Floating Shelf Height Above the Counter

white kitchen with a subway tile backsplash that has floating shelves on either side of the window. There is one shelf to the left and two shelves high to the right. The text reads "21.5 inces" showing this is the floating shelf height above counter

Kitchen Floating Shelf Height Above the Counter and Spacing Guide

I’m sharing how I found my ideal floating shelf height above the counter to make your decision process less stressful!

In addition, I’m giving you the exact height and spacing I used in my kitchen, with a visual guide, to help make your life so much easier.

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Just a friendly reminder: This tutorial and any opinions or recommendations are genuinely mine, but this is not a substitute for consulting a professional. I also use affiliate links to earn a commission.


Shelf Height Above the Countertop

The height at which you decide to hang your kitchen floating shelves depends on a few things like, ceiling height, number of shelves, your height, and don’t forget about the height of what you want to put under it.

The floating shelf height above the counter I used is 21.5 inches. 

white kitchen cabinets with white countertops and medium wood floors. There is a white subway backsplash, gold hardware with black accents, and wood floating shelves
white kitchen with a subway tile backsplash that has floating shelves on either side of the window. There is one shelf to the left and two shelves high to the right. The text reads "21.5 inces" showing this is the floating shelf height above counter

And here is how I came up with that!

I started by working from the bottom up. As an example, I knew I wanted to put taller items on the countertop, such as a coffee pot, cooking utensils, and cutting boards.

Not to change the topic, but have you ever noticed how most coffee pots don’t fit under cabinets? It’s super annoying!

That’s what is nice about having full control over how high you hang your floating shelves. Hence why I recommend stating from the bottom up. This approach ensures you’ll have enough height under the shelf to access all your things.

I’m not a fan of having to move things around to use them. Like when you have to move 5 pans to get to the one you want, I hate that!

Back to the point. I left a few inches above the tallest item, which happened to be my coffee pot, to ensure I could actually open and close the lid.

>> Are you really sure you want floating shelves in your kitchen? Here you’ll find out the honest pros and cons to kitchen floating shelves.

Floating Shelf Height For 3 vs 2 Shelves

In addition, when you’re hanging three shelves, you’ll want to consider the spacing between the shelves and how close it then puts your top shelf to the ceiling. 

To begin with, one way to keep things symmetrical is to set the center shelf at eye level, and then evenly space the other two from there.

Another thing to keep in mind with every decision is functionality of these shelves is priority. Especially if you are short like I am. It’s a balancing act of making sure you can easily reach the items on the shelf with what is most aesthetically pleasing.

Ideal Spacing for Floating Shelves

close up of two light wood floating shelves that are 2 inches thick and hanging on a white subway tile backsplash. These are decorated with 3 large, oversized containers on the thopshelf and various sized mason jars on the bottom.
close up of two light wood kitchen floating shelves showing the spacing between them as 10.25 inches

The space between my shelves are 10.25 inches.

Here is how I determined this most ideal floating shelf spacing:

I started by having an idea of what dishes and decor would be on each shelf. This gave me the minimum space need between the shelves.

I added a few inches to this number to account for reaching my hand and in and out to grab the items. This was my starting point!

From there, I trialed a few different variations.

Any by trialed, I mean my dad held the shelf up on the wall as I stood back and over analyzed every inch difference.

kitchen makeover with white kitchen cabinets medium wood floors gold hardware stainless steel appliances white subway tile backsplash. There is a black farmhouse pendant light hanging over the sink

As I looked at the shelves, I was checking this:

  1. the space remaining above the top shelf looked good compared to how much space there was from the counter to the bottom shelf
  2. the spacing between the two shelves didn’t look cramped, but also didn’t look oddly far apart
  3. looking at the overall aesthetics of how the shelves looked on the wall space

Last but not least, I double checked for functionality. By making sure I could comfortably reach each one without needed a step stool.

>> Are you sure you have the right size shelves? Here you’ll find out how to be sure you order the most ideal depth, length, and width floating shelves.

white kitchen with stainless steel appliances and wood floating shelves

So, that’s how I did it! Lots of planning ahead, and visually checking my spacing before drilling any holes into the backsplash.

It’s definitely not hard to find the most ideal spacing, but it does require thinking ahead and careful consideration of the many things I pointed out in this post.

By the way, now that you’re confident in the height and spacing of your floating shelves, it’s install time! Find out how to easily install floating shelves by drilling through wall tile in this post!

And of course, you can’t forget about decorating kitchen shelves!!


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furniture flipping // diy projects // home renovations // modern farmhouse decorating ideas