The space above the cabinets is notorious. It's usually not big enough to do anything substantial, but a shame to waste. Often, you see knick-knacks or fake plants in the space, as you usually don't have enough light to grow real plants. This is a good place to stash breakables or hide items from young children. Try putting a few simple, bright things in the area and focus on a streamlined, modern look to keep it looking uncluttered.
Cove lighting revitalizes this normally awkward, dark spot and brightens your kitchen. Make a solar-panel-powered cube light fixture out of a gutted piece of foam, or buy strings of patio lights to lay along the top of the cabinet. Wire a switched outlet above the cupboards and place a couple of medium-sized LED lamps that produce less heat. You can change out the light-bulb colors seasonally, for a festive look.
Buy block letters from craft and decor stores, which are available in many sizes, or stencil a phrase on painted decorative wood. Spell out your family name or a favorite short saying or meaningful quote. Choose a phrase about cooking or simple words like: "Home," "Love," "Wine" or "Eat." Change the blocks with the seasons to reflect holiday themes. Use metal or glossy paint to make them easier to clean when they get greasy. Have fun with the comic fans in your house with cartoon, Andy Warhol-inspired word art, like "Kapow!" Print the words on poster-sized prints at the local copy shop, and laminate them for easy cleanup.
If your home is short on space, use that tiny bit of space for storage. Metal tins are easy to wipe down and can store old tax statements, old photographs or any other item that you don't need to access on a regular basis. Store buttons, thread, yarn and other craft items in jars. Coordinate brightly colored plastic bins with your decor. Woven baskets are attractive, but they may be harder to clean.
If you don't have to worry about earthquakes, you can store your wine collection on top of your upper cabinets. Look for wine racks at wine stores, stores that sell cabinet systems, or make your own. You can find woodworkers to build a custom bottle holder at craft shows or at online craft-selling sites. Avoid placing wine collections over the stove since heat rises.