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Kitchens Without Upper Cabinets

POSTED ON Thursday, October 17, 2019 IN Kitchen

Rethink the cabinetry in your kitchen.

updated 10/3/2022

One of the most intriguing new trends in home kitchen design is to forgo upper cabinets in favor of only base cabinets or base cabinets paired with open shelving.

The aesthetic appeal is clear. The look of a “no uppers kitchen” is easy on the eyes, sleek and uncomplicated. But is this minimalist approach to the home’s most utilitarian space practical? Upper and lower kitchen cabinetry has been the standard for years because it maximizes your storage space, allowing you to tuck away all of your cooking and dining ware.

Are there alternatives to compensate for the loss of storage, allowing you to maintain the modern aesthetic without having to compromise on functionality? We’ll explore the advantages of kitchens with no upper cabinets and possible solutions for any potential disadvantages.

Create a more open feeling kitchen without upper cabinets

Too much cabinetry can leave you feeling cramped inside your own kitchen. Removing the upper cabinets opens up the visual space around the room, creating the appearance of a kitchen that looks and feels much bigger and brighter. This can have an especially transformative effect for homeowners with smaller kitchens.

Removing your upper kitchen cabinets can make a difference in terms of lighting, as well. By casting shadows over your countertops, upper cabinets darken your workspace. Without upper cabinets, it may even feel like you have more counter space with which to work.

Upper cabinets can also be hard to reach. If you’re having to use a step stool or find yourself climbing on countertops to reach certain shelves, keeping your kitchen cabinets below waist height allows for ease of access. Everything you’d need would be well within reach.


Cutting down on kitchen clutter with no upper cabinets

If the prospect of losing your upper kitchen cabinets is one that gives you anxiety, consider performing a mental audit of whatever you are currently storing in that space. Can you remember without looking? If you can in fact remember the specific items, can you recall when you used any of them last? Perhaps you rarely even use what is up there.

Take it as an opportunity to take stock of your inventory and purge what you don’t use. It might not be a lack of storage space that is your problem, but rather an excess of rarely used items. By cleaning out your cabinets, you may find you have a surplus of storage after all. You’d be surprised by some of the unnecessary items you’ve accumulated over the years.

Removing the upper cabinets from your kitchen can be perceived as reducing storage space or rather an invitation to be more conscientious of how you utilize your storage space.

Get creative with your kitchen cabinet organization

Removing the upper cabinets in your kitchen is an opportunity to rethink how you organize the space in your lower cabinets. Enhanced drawer organization in your base cabinets can allow for more efficient and effective storage of plates, bowls, utensils, etc. Find a new home for the items and appliances you might normally store in upper kitchen cabinets.

Before you start haphazardly cramming things into drawers and cabinets, consider creative new ways of organizing them. Drawer dividers are especially popular for organizing smaller items in drawers of small or uncommon sizes. Metal shelves can maximize the vertical space in your base cabinets, essentially doubling the amount of storage space you can utilize. Wire baskets stacked one on top of the other can also achieve the same effect.

If you are remodeling your base kitchen cabinets, a smaller hidden drawer within a larger drawer can create more storage space. Pullout drawers beneath the counter can serve as a pantry where you can store your cans, spices, and boxed goods all in one place.


Keep your kitchen light and airy with open shelving

Even before homeowners were ditching upper cabinets in their kitchens, floating shelves were gathering steam as a popular design trend. They stand out as a distinctive alternative to traditional shelving, allowing you to incorporate more storage and display space into your kitchen that bring both style and function to the space.

True to their name, floating shelves create the illusion of being suspended in the air with no visible signs of support. This is ideal for bringing a light and airy feel to your kitchen, especially if you are tight on space and desire a clean and minimalist aesthetic.

In addition to the extra storage space they provide, floating kitchen shelves are also appealing because of their simplistic design and the ease with which they can be installed.


A kitchen island can add a new element

If you have more floor space to work with than wall space in your kitchen, the addition of an island could be the key to securing adequate storage space without having to give up the clean minimalism and modern aesthetic afforded by removing your upper cabinets. The impact in terms of style and design can be significant.

Considered the “heart” of the kitchen, the kitchen island stands alone, bearing no physical connection to the cabinetry and appliances that surround it. They are versatile in terms of functionality. More than storage space, kitchen islands can also provide open counter space for food preparation, or can be used as a gathering place with comfortable seating.

Removing the upper cabinets in your kitchen is ultimately a matter of your desired aesthetic and how you want to best utilize the space available to you. To find the custom base cabinets and floating shelves that will complement your kitchen without the upper cabinets, visit our nearest showroom to talk to a designer and see our products up close and in person.


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  1. cabinets
  2. home decor ideas
  3. organization and storage


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