Kitchens without upper cabinets range from multi-level shelving to minimal shelves to none. Find a style of “upperless” kitchen that’s right for you.
Having a kitchen without upper cabinets is the secret dream of many homeowners, but they’ve been told it will become a cluttered mess, and too often, they take the road most traveled. Compromises are made: They opt for glass front cabinets, hoping it has a similar look. Yet the mood boards full of old-world style kitchens sporting just a few open shelves continue to proliferate.
Removing the upper cabinets in a kitchen remodel isn’t that subversive; kitchen walls lined with upper and lower cabinets haven’t always been the norm. It’s time to take the fear out of this kitchen idea by finding a level of “upperless” that is right for you.
If going “upperless” is a must for your dream kitchen, you may wonder if you’ll have enough storage. The most obvious first step is to evaluate what you’re storing and if you actually need all of it. Don’t dismiss this as a design trend just for minimalists — we could all use an occasional cleanse.
Most of us need to go through our belongings once a year to weed out unnecessary clutter. Take this opportunity to consider if some of what you have (and even what you use) complicates your life rather than enhancing it.
Worrying that you’ll have trouble keeping open shelves dusted and clean becomes a moot point when you’ve distilled your kitchen tools to your most-used items that are often in play. The freedom the decluttering process brings may revolutionize your lifestyle and give you a whole new kitchen before you touch those upper cabinets.
Kitchen layouts vary, but removing upper cabinets guarantees your room will visually grow and have a more open feel.
Open shelving breaks up the repetition of design in a kitchen and alleviates any boredom:
This is an excellent time to pop your shelving, wall paint, and backsplash design ideas into Spoak’s room visualization tool to ensure everything gels as well as you hope. Planning ahead keeps a one-weekend makeover project from turning into a month-long project.
If you thought multiple open shelves felt roomy, this second style brings a remarkably open feel to a sometimes cramped space. This design can have a distinctly modern look, with one shelf running the length of the kitchen, emphasizing the space above for a gallery-like feel. It also adds a horizontal dimension to a room that otherwise seems small.
At this point, you may be ready to go all the way with no cabinetry on your upper walls to make your kitchen wall the focal point. It’s time to revel in revealing your everyday items.
Having zero uppers to block natural light makes your space brighter. It also allows you to let color take center stage in your decor. Consider painting the lower cabinets and upper walls with harmonious colors that work with the countertops and backsplash.
Once you remove the upper cabinets, the sky's the limit with your kitchen backsplash design.
With no cabinetry on the upper walls, you are free to let your creative juices flow. Few of us ever feel there is enough wall space in the home for art, so make the most of your liberated space and create your own curated kitchen art gallery.
Of course, you will still have some stuff, and you’ll need a place to store it. If you’re going to love this style of kitchen, you’ll need kitchen storage that works and is easy to access.
Unless you are in a very small space and need cabinet space to store large amounts of food prep and service items, you can probably fit your assorted kitchen tools and cookware in your lower cabinets and kitchen island.
Here are a few organizational aids that don’t require a contractor:
Now that we’ve explored how to eliminate your upper cabinets: From the most modest change of shelving to the ultimate of bare walls, are you seeing your design style somewhere on this spectrum?
Hopefully, you see the advantages of dialing back fears of having less storage or going against the grain of kitchen design. Removing those upper cabinets isn’t revolutionary or groundbreaking, but the simplicity it could bring to your everyday life may be.
Photo Credit: (Left) Camille Styles
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