No Upper Cabinets?

LoPayMay 10, 2013

In the planning stages of renovating our kitchen. It is roughly 18' x 13'. The current lay out is a U shape with doors on one corner of the U.

Thinking about not installing upper cabinets on the 18' wall that will have the sink and 36" cook top. I would put in open shelves on this wall. This wall and the "bottom" of the U wall will all have drawers and pull outs. The other side or the U will have fridge and wall ovens, and maybe small appliance storage.

I like to cook and have always wanted a home kitchen that functions more like a restaurant kitchen, but it still has to look correct for the house. Our house is a 2K sf 60's ranch. We will be living here until we can't manage living in a house. No kids, and I am the only cook.

Also toying with the idea of no cabinets at all, except for sink and DW enclosure, and getting tables and racks from kitchen suplly store. I would then opt for a free standing range. But, then I wouldn't have any storage for linens and flatware.

I removed the doors on some the cabinets already, because I hated having them open in my face when I needed something. I have a lot of nice cookware and kitchen pottery, and don't generally have a lot of gadgets.

Will eliminating the uppers save me any money on the renovation?

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Yes, you will save money, but at a prize. How do you like your cabinets now that you've removed the doors? Mine would look very cluttered, the doors provide an aesthetically pleasant and orderly look. I use the cabinets for practicality not aesthetics and the doors provide a feeling of order.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 1:22PM
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Be careful what you wish for. I spent 15yrs in a giant NYC loft with that style kitchen. Huge.
Because of our work we had a house keeper once a week, 8hours, to keep up with all that openness. She only cleaned the kitchen, small bedroom and giant bathroom/with laundry.
I even designed a 'sweep hole' in the floor. It was fun but what a mess being so open.
I now am in love with my simple modern clean-lines tidy efficient kitchen.
Another poster showed recently a really good compromise, modern and clean and has some elements that seem to give some open shelving that you might like. Most restaurant chefs do not have that at home. (a best friend of mine teaches at the Culinary Institute, CIA) They have a cleaning service to take care of all that, as does restaurant kitchens. It is appealing. But not necessary for the home kitchen.
Here it is...

Here is a link that might be useful: kitchen reveal

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 1:27PM
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We're just finishing our own reno in a 1957 split level where the kitchen is on the lower level, and we went with no uppers at all and I love it! It's so much more open and I would never go back. I think open shelving rather than uppers would look good in your case since you say you have nice cookware and pottery, and also keep that nice open feel. Just one thought: I noticed when cleaning out our kitchen prior to the construction that some items I took down from the top of our fridge, which had just been sitting there awhile untouched and uncovered, were frankly pretty yucky - dusty and a bit greasy (of course, the fridge was near the stove, and didn't help that the original kitchen *had no ventilation at all* - I can't imagine what the POs were thinking). Anyway, point being that unless things are used or dusted reasonably frequently they might need to be washed before use if they're generally on open shelves. But I think open shelves, even all-round, could really look fabulous.

And, hurray for drawers! We went all drawers on the lower too (well, except under the sink) and it's working brilliantly.

Good luck with the planning! I found that to be the hardest many possibilities. Fun, though, to think of finally having things just as you like them, isn't it?

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 1:31PM
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I have a kitchen that is mostly commercial worktables, although I do have cabinets in another room where I keep my flatware and most of my food items. I think you would definitely save money with table and racks from a commercial kitchen compared to traditional cabinetry.

The main issue I have run into with all open shelving is with food storage. There are a lot of items that suffer when exposed to light, so you will want to think about how to store them. For flatware, you could store them in canisters and I have a box for my linens that goes on a shelf on the worktable. I have rolling bins for canned goods that I keep under the bottom shelf of my worktable (on the floor), but I'd really like something sturdier than what I have (mine were designed for toys and canned goods are heavy). Infrequently used items on the shelves tend to get dusty and need to be washed before using. And I do regret not having more drawer space for certain items.

I went for the worktable for two reasons: price and the fact that I have low windows in the kitchen. The worktables can go in front of the windows and light still comes in below the coutner. They've worked out well for me, but there are definitely pros and cons.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 1:35PM
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Thanks for the input folks. I saw the black cabinets - very similar to what my vision is and close to my current lay out. My DW is between the stove and sink. (Wish I had the $ for what he did with the ceiling and sky lights.)

I like not having the doors on my cabinets now. They are the cabinets above my prep area and between sink and stove, so I can grab oils, spices etc quickly. IMO it does not look cluttered. I took them off because I was constantly opening them during cooking and hitting my face on them (I am only 5' tall).

Our current cabinets are 80s cream laminate with the oak trim. I actually hung some art work on the remaining doors.

I have also removed some cabinets since we moved in. Took out some pendant cabinets that were over a penisula and hung a pot rack. Pull down some wall cabinets that had only a counter underneath them and put in a hutch with solid doors (which I will keep and put in the dining area that is adjacent to the kitchen). I get tons of storage with that piece of furniture.

Our budget is 20K and I would like to get a Wolf range top and proper hood with that. We are not replacing the current tile floors or moving plumbing/walls/door/windows. Will use existing fridge, DW, and double ovens that all work well. Double ovens are over 20 YO, and would like to have them limp along as long as possible and prep any new cabinet for a future replacement. Counter tops are what is ever left over in the budget after all of my functional needs are met.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 4:04PM
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I love having no upper cabinets. Our Kitchen is a similar size 16' by 13'. We have plenty of storage for a family of 4 and have empty drawers and shelves. We do have a large pantry and bank of drawers on the other side of our U shape. We downsized from our single family to a condo and love this floor plan.
If you do plan on using open shelving and want the "floating" look I suggest having brackets put into the studs before drywall as most open shelf hardware is not strong enough to hold plates.
I love having my everyday plates right in easy access and love how open it looks with out upper cabinets. Of course it was also much more economical :):

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 5:31PM
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What kind of range do you hand ratram?

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 9:08PM
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I also love having no upper cabinets and would never go back. Unless a small space made their storage necessary, and then of course I'd learn to appreciate them. I'd get rid of lots of stuff before I did that though. You have plenty of space, so I wouldn't think twice. No uppers.

Built-in lowers. The gravity thing and cleanup.

At most two levels of open shelves, low/easy reach, holding frequently used stuff and/or decoratives that can be tossed in the dishwasher. Been there, including taking doors off uppers.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 11:54AM
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One of the original anti-upperitis group here. Those who don't like them think it's nuts. Those who do wouldn't go back. Doesn't seem to be anyone in between.

The clean, open space in ratrem's kitchen is why. And there's enough storage in pantries and lowers for me. I do have shelves and a plate rack.

We lived in a house in Italy which had no uppers at all and the lowers were open as well -- only one had mesh doors. It was a very easy kitchen and a common style there. Earthquake zone aside, over here there is a fervent bias for hiding stuff or getting the most of every cabinet inch so stuff can be crammed in. Like the OP, I want to see everything. As a convenience, I've seen open pull outs on bottom shelves, especially under rangetops.

I try to edit -- with spring cleaning this year I did some re-editing and eliminating what's unnecessary it makes using everything so much easier.

Although I do think it creates a need to consider full backsplash walls which they also do in Belgium and elsewhere and designers like to do. I did that and love the style it adds with 0 maintenance.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 12:54PM
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