Kitchens Without Upper Cabinets: Should You Go Without?

updated Jul 16, 2020
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(Image credit: Sojournal)

In recent years a lot of people have chosen to incorporate open shelving into their kitchens — but lately, we’ve seen a trend that’s even more dramatic: kitchens with no upper cabinets at all. There are some undeniable advantages to this: the airy feel, lots of room for windows — and also some undeniable disadvantages: the loss of storage, the prospect of bending down to get everything you need. Is this something you would consider?

Above, this beautiful mint kitchen form Sojournal has a taller pantry cabinet to one side, which provides extra storage while still preserving the open feel of the kitchen, but is otherwise free of upper storage.

(Image credit: Bolig)
(Image credit: Bolig)

Not having upper cabinets has the effect of making even a smaller kitchen seem much bigger and brighter — and also provides opportunities for dramatic wall lighting, as seen in this space from Bolig, via Planete Deco.

This kitchen doesn’t entirely eschew above-countertop storage — there is that little shelf where oft-used items can hang out. But for the most part, this kitchen is completely free of storage above waist height. It does appear to have drawers instead of traditional base cabinets, something you’ll notice in almost all of these kitchens. I personally think this is the only way to go in a kitchen like this — drawers, as opposed to traditional cabinets, make cabinet space easier to organize, and also make it much easier to reach things in the back of the cabinet, which is especially important if that’s the only storage space you have.

(Image credit: Koekkenskaberne)

This kitchen from Koekkenskaberne has only low cabinets — which means that the range hood becomes an almost sculptural element, something you’ll see in a lot of these kitchens.

(Image credit: Verve)

This kitchen from Verve feels wonderfully airy and open, while the taller floating unit provides a little bit of extra storage.

(Image credit: VT Wonen)

This kitchen from VT Wonen eschews upper cabinets and makes room for a backsplash window, sure to make working in the kitchen a more pleasant experience.

(Image credit: Mason St Peter)

This kitchen from Mason St Peter is even more dramatically lit, thanks to the corner window that wraps halfway around the space. (As a side note, these days everyone seems to be rushing to replace their white appliances, but in a kitchen like this, with wood cabinets, I think they can actually be quite nice.)

(Image credit: Delikatissen)

No upper cabinets means that this kitchen from Delikatissen is lit from two different walls — a real luxury in a kitchen.

(Image credit: Coco Lapine Design)
(Image credit: Coco Lapine Design)

Here’s one final upper cabinet-less kitchen, from Coco Lapine Design. This one, like some of the kitchens above, does make a tiny concession to storage with a bank of taller cabinets at the right.

What do you think? Would you ever do this in your own kitchen? Or is all that delicious cabinet space just too much to pass up?