Using Kitchen Cabinets Without Doors to Create an Open Feel

There’s a niche (but growing) trend in the last few years toward using open shelves instead of wall cabinets. Let’s explore why you might want to do this, and how using kitchen cabinets without doors can make the idea even better!

…But Why…?

The idea is that using open shelving up top creates an airy, spacious, open feel to a kitchen. Base cabinets are solidly functional, there’s no doubt about that, as they create a work surface. But wall cabinets, one could argue, effectively bring the walls of the room forward more than a foot, making the kitchen feel smaller and more claustrophobic. By eliminating that “extra wall” effect, you can brighten up a kitchen and give it an airy, rustic feel.

Arguments Against Shelves

There are two main downsides to this idea. One is, of course, that everything that would normally be hidden away out of sight behind cabinet doors will now be on display. For that reason, we don’t recommend that all your wall cabinet space be open. Displaying fine china is a great idea, and even normal dishware can look lovely if it all matches and is stacked neatly. But what about canned goods? Baking ingredients? Measuring cups and plastic storage containers? Most people want to get those things out of view.

The other problem with using only shelves is that it’s pretty easy to create a chain reaction, where sliding one thing over to make room for something else could push yet another pile of potentially fragile things off the edge. “But I just won’t do that,” you say? Maybe not … but what about your spouse? Your kids? Their friends? Your in-laws?

Mixing Shelves with Doorless Cabinets – A Solution?

The solution is to create shelves with borders, and one way to do this is to incorporate wall cabinets without doors, or even using cabinets as your shelves entirely. To do this, the most important thing is to use cabinets that are finished inside. Any of our RTA kitchen cabinet lines that feature stand-alone glass door options are finished inside, such as the York Avenue line. Other lines, like Shaker Hill, feature cabinets with glass doors that are finished inside while most of the line is not, and these are an option as well.

Some of our lines, including York Avenue, even offer end-shelving options, which provide a natural way to incorporate them. Our suggestion is to keep at least one wall mounted with traditional closed cabinets. Then for another wall, you can go from end shelf to a single cabinet without doors, then a line of shelving (painted or stained to match), and then finish with another cabinet without doors and another end shelf. Using trim, such as a valence or light strip, on both the undersides and tops of the cabinets, and bottom and top shelves can help tie it all together visually.

In the end, using shelves and kitchen cabinets without doors to create an open and rustic feel is probably always going to be an unorthodox choice, but if it fits your personality, we’re happy to help you piece it all together! Just click here to set up an appointment with one of our professionally trained kitchen design consultants. They’ll help you take your new kitchen from dream to reality smoothly and painlessly.

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Posted in Design Ideas, home remodeling, kitchen rta cabinets, ready to assemble kitchen cabinets, RTA Kitchen Cabinets


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