This Throwback Kitchen Cabinet Trend Is Back, Better Than Ever, and Now Hackable With IKEA Products

published Aug 4, 2021
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Open shelving certainly has its pluses — namely keeping everything handy and in plain sight — but in a kitchen, it’s a little impractical to have everything out on display, particularly if you like cooking and have tons of stuff (or just hate dusting). That’s why I was thrilled to see that an old school cabinet trend is starting to make a comeback, bringing a little bit of closed storage to kitchens (and cleaning regimens) everywhere: the appliance garage

I first came across appliance garages while working for This Old House magazine back in 2010, and they’re exactly what they sound like: little wooden “garages” with slotted pull-down doors for “parking” oft-used, but slightly unsightly, small appliances like blenders and toasters. Back in the day, people who favored a retro kitchen look often incorporated appliance garages made out of wood, even though this feature first appeared on the design scene prominently in the 1980s and early ‘90s (and generally looked like what you see below from Cabinet Parts). 

So why the appliance garage resurgence right now? Perhaps the current popularity of charming but subtle textural design details — and tambour specifically (which is flexible and was traditionally used for appliance garage doors) — has something to do with it. If designers are incorporating the slotted look on cabinet fronts, walls, and furniture, why not bring it back on a specialty kitchen feature? In fact, if you love the look of bespoke slatted cabinetry but the price tag not so much, an appliance garage could be the perfect way to try this trend on a budget and without going all in with all your cabinets. 

In the wake of Marie Kondo and The Home Edit’s popularity, it’s also no secret that many people like a more streamlined look these days, and appliance garages help in the concealing and general storage departments, too. Turns out that’s particularly true in tiny cook spaces. According to designer Anne-Marie Singer of AM Singer Design, appliance garages can stand in for kitchens that lack full and/or free-standing pantries, providing not only a place to stash appliances but also pots, pans, and other odds and ends.

Recently, Singer used a combination of IKEA SEKTION cabinetry and Semihandmade Shaker door fronts in a NYC kitchen to create the large appliance garage you see above, which departs from the tambour trend entirely by using DIY pocket doors instead. Appliance garages used to always open like actual garage doors, but this time around, they can be even more modern and discrete via paneling that matches the rest of your kitchen. Even better, Singer’s project proves that you can hack IKEA cabinetry to create an appliance garage, too, which is always a win-win in my book.

So for 2021, get ready to see the appliance garage trend take off, with versions in all sizes, ranging from large, floor-to-ceiling setups to smaller, more traditional countertop versions. They’re a great solution for dead corners, and you can also trick an appliance garage out with extras if your budget allows for it, from built-in electrical outlets to pull-out lazy Susans. If you want your appliance garage door to lift up on hinges — or retract like pocket doors — that’s all possible now, too. I can’t wait to see where this trend goes this year, and I’m happy it’s on the rise yet again.