What Are Kitchen Corbels? (And Do You Need Them?)

Kitchen corbels. You’ve probably seen them in those lovely huge traditional kitchens in the glossy magazines. But what exactly are they, and do you need some in your kitchen?

In this post, I’ll explain what a kitchen corbel is and what they are used for. As well as answer some commonly asked questions about the topic.

Let’s get into it!

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What Are Kitchen Corbels?

Kitchen corbels are a type of decorative bracket or brace often found in traditional kitchen design.

They are available in many shapes, sizes and materials and can be load-bearing or not, depending on the design and function.

The back of a corbel is designed to fit against a wall or cabinet, while the top is a rest for an object, usually a countertop or other cabinetry.

While similar to a standard L-bracket they are much more decorative and have a 3D structure to them.

The word ‘Corbel’ comes from the Latin corbellus or corvus, meaning ‘Raven’ which refers to its triangular beak-like appearance.

While there are many different styles of corbels, including more contemporary and less ornate looking, they a most commonly installed as part of a more traditionally styled kitchen.

Corbels underneath a canopy cooker hood – Source: Neptune

Where Do You Put Kitchen Corbels?

Kitchen corbels can be placed in several locations as part of your kitchen design. This can be for decorative or supportive reasons.

You will most commonly find them installed in the following locations:

  • Kitchen Islands – Corbels are usually located at the ends or back of a kitchen island where the countertop overhangs the edge to allow for seating. Corbels located here will often have some load-bearing capacity to support the countertop depending on the size of the overhang.

  • Cooker Hoods – Usually much more decorative and not load-bearing, you will often see corbels installed underneath canopy cooker hood cabinets. This helps to give a more traditional or substantial feel and weight to the cooker hood and can be a great way to create a striking focal point in the kitchen.

  • Wall Cabinets – Not as common these days, and usually reserved for very traditionally styled kitchens. You can install corbels on the underside of wall cabinets to give them a more decorative look. This can be at either end of a run of wall cabinets or, if the wall cabinet is on its own, on either side of a single cabinet. These are usually not load-bearing.

  • Shelves – Corbels can be used to support shelving when you want a more decorative finish than a simple L-bracket. They can be used to help tie the look of the cabinetry together, especially if you are using them in other locations within your kitchen.

Corbels on the back of a kitchen island to help support a countertop overhang
Corbels on the back of a kitchen island to help support a countertop overhang

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Do You Need Kitchen Corbels?

Deciding whether to include kitchen corbels in your design boils down to a mix of functional and aesthetic considerations.

Essentially, corbels serve two primary purposes: structural support and decorative enhancement.

While corbels are not a necessity for every kitchen, they can be a delightful addition if you’re aiming for a more traditional or visually striking kitchen.

Consider both the functional and aesthetic aspects to decide if corbels align with your kitchen renovation goals.

Ultimately, the choice hinges on your personal preference and the specific requirements of your kitchen design.


Are Corbels Load Bearing?

Kitchen corbels can be load-bearing, especially if they are installed to help support any countertop overhang or shelving.

However, in most instances of modern kitchen design, corbels are simply a decorative element with little to no load-bearing capacity.

How Many Corbels Do I Need?

You don’t need to have any corbels in your kitchen.

However, if you would like to add some corbels into your design then you would typically include them as pairs.

Whether that is one pair on either side of your cooker hood or two pairs on either side at the ends of your kitchen island. The number of corbels needed will ultimately depend on the kitchen design and where you intend to have them.

What’s The Difference Between Brackets And Corbels?

Corbels are a type of bracket. However, they are usually much more ornate and in some instances are just decorative and not load-bearing.

Corbels are also often made from and finished in the same material and colour as the rest of the kitchen cabinetry. Brackets on the other hand are usually much simpler in appearance and are designed to be load-bearing.

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Final Thoughts…

There you have it. Everything you need to know about kitchen corbels and whether you need them in your kitchen.

While not essential for any kitchen, corbels can be a nice touch if you want a more traditional look or want to create a more eye-catching and substantial focal point in your kitchen.

What do you think? Will you add some corbels to your next kitchen project?



Michael from

Michael is a kitchen designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new kitchen installations for over 10 years. Before that, he was an electrician and part of a team that fitted kitchens. He created Kitchinsider in early 2019 to help give people advice when it comes to getting a new kitchen.