My DIY Kitchen: Cabinet Crown Molding, How to Fake the Look Without the Fuss

Hey, Hey, Hey!  If you follow me on my Instagram page, you will see that I have continued to work on my kitchen.  So far I’ve added an additional pantry cabinet, I added a plate rack to the side of that cabinet and this past week I replaced our over-the-range microwave, with a range hood and DIY range hood cover (a how-to is coming soon).  But, if you read my DIY Plate Rack Wall Post, you would see how I’ve  been putting off adding the crown molding to the cabinets, for obvious reasons of course—crown molding is hard work and can be very frustrating.

Although I have installed crown molding in the past, I decided that I wanted something very simple this time around.  Something that adds a finishing touch, but with clean, clean lines.

I’ve made a concerted effort in this new year to finish (at once) all of the projects that I start.  So after completing the range hood, the last thing I wanted to deal  with was fighting with my miter saw and figuring angles!

So here’s what I used:

  • 1×2 pine boards
  • Cove Molding (Foam)
  • Compound Miter Saw (But a hand held saw and miter box would work fine on this project)
  • Brad Nails
  • Campbell Hausfeld Pneumatic Nailer
  • Paint
  • Caulk

Measure the width of the cabinet and cut your first 1×2 to that measurement.

For the pantry cabinet that is shown in this tutorial, I used a 1×4 and a 1×2 because my cabinets are staggered.  The height of your trim is really based on your own preference.  Staggering the heights also helped me to avoid having to cut inside corners. (More on that in a minute)

Then cut an additional 1×2–2 inches longer than your 1st piece (width of cabinet) This will be the top of the “crown”.  I stacked the 1×2’s like an “L” shape and nailed them together.  The longer piece should hang over the front piece by 1 inch on each end.  (The photo above is just a side profile view to give you an idea)

I then placed this piece on top of the cabinet.  You can see that I also added a piece of lattice trim to cover the seam (the tops of the pantry cabinets uneven in height because one was installed before flooring, and the other was installed after).

I then nailed small 2.5 inch blocks (scraps of 1×2’s not shown), behind the 1×2 molding and nailed them to the cabinet.  Similar to this image (for visual purposes only, disregard the wording)


I nailed the 1×2 molding to the blocks.  For the sides of the cabinet, I cut 2 other 1×2’s to the depth of the cabinet minus 2 inches and placed it behind the front piece so it butts against it.

I then added cove molding underneath, the cove molding is the only piece that needs to be mitered.

This image shows how the cove molding sits against the 1×2’s

This can easily be cut with a miter box and saw.  If you use a compound miter saw this image from Shanty 2 Chic  may be helpful.

Note how the cove molding sits against the saw wall.

Next, you’ll want to sand, caulk and paint!



and Voila, you get the look of a basic crown molding without the fuss!

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  1. Brandi
    March 1, 2016 / 12:26 am

    You are so amazing, Carli! Your projects always look so polished and professional. I love the work you're doing in your kitchen.

    • Carli A
      October 15, 2017 / 12:10 pm

      Such a late response, sorry!!!! Thank you Brandi for your always-encouraging words!

  2. Erin Marshall
    March 1, 2016 / 12:37 am

    Love this! Great job and tutorial.

    • Carli A
      October 15, 2017 / 12:11 pm

      Thanks Erin!

  3. Andrea @ Decorating Cents
    March 1, 2016 / 1:24 pm

    It looks great. I have always thought cabinets looked better with some type of molding at the top.

  4. Alaya
    March 3, 2016 / 3:07 am

    That after is divine! I love the tutorial, the step by step instructions will make this easy for me when I give this a try!

  5. Linda Terry
    March 6, 2016 / 4:55 pm

    Great finishing touch to your cabinets! Love it!

  6. Unknown
    October 14, 2017 / 11:19 pm

    not sure why you didn't just use crown molding? Wouldn't that be easier?

    • Carli A
      October 15, 2017 / 12:08 pm

      Not exactly, because making the cuts for crown mounding are a little difficult for me and this gave me a cleaner more modern look which I desired.

  7. Laura
    May 12, 2018 / 10:49 am

    I've been remodeling my kitchen for the past few months and when it came time to do the crown molding, I stumbled across your blog post. My version came out great. Thanks for sharing your method.

    • Made By Carli
      May 12, 2018 / 5:36 pm

      Hi Laura! I’m so glad you found my post helpful! I’d love to see what you ended up doing!

  8. mimi
    April 8, 2019 / 9:03 am

    Wow. Thats a good effort. I'm finding ideas for my new kitchen looks with new cabinet.

  9. Christine
    November 16, 2021 / 9:56 am

    HI! I just finished trimming 32 windows, 15 doors, and baseboard in a 2000sf house. I used this basic Craftsman trim for expedience and because, thank God, I love the look.
    I’ve been fussing at how to crown my beaded inset cabinetry and you’ve answered my fuss! I can’t believe that in 3 years or so, I haven’t come across your blog.
    It’s basically the same thing as the windows and doors, but I’ll be putting a little dentil molding in where you have the cove!
    Thanks so much for your detail. I’m happy to have found you and had this little epiphany!

    • madebycarli
      November 17, 2021 / 8:22 pm

      Yay Christine! That makes me so happy! So glad this was helpful to you!

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