Totally CLEAR (Lexan/Lucite?) cabinets would make tiny kitchen...

fixizinOctober 6, 2010

... SEEM much bigger, and less claustrophobic, is my bright-ish idea of the evening. I'm talking not just the doors, but the ENTIRE cabinet/cupboard made of transparent materials, possibly with some strategically or stylishly placed frosting. LIGHT would infuse every aspect of it. The walls of the tiny dead-end kitchenette are suddenly 2 feet farther away, i.e. the space immediately seems 4' wider!

Plus it says "I'm not ashamed of my dishes and stemware", not to mention that it gives the false impression/subliminal suggestion that my unseen MidMod closet/pantry/dresser spaces are equally tidy and squared-away, LOL.

Alas, ol' censored and slanted Google is not bringing up anything to match my envisioned cabinets. It doesn't seem like that original an idea...? Didn't expect to find such at Blowe's or Evil Orange, but kinda thought they'd be "off the shelf" at some trendy online vendor... nope, not really.

I recently saw this "space-enlarging" effect in action in a living room, with the most interesting variation yet on the classic Wassily Chair, i.e. kept the slender chrome frame, but replaced all the leather straps with rows of transparent rubber "spaghetti" bands. AWESOME visual, and very comfy too. You could carpet the room with these, and have it still "seem" like you had a dance floor.

Anyway, any insights on makers/crafters/suppliers of the elusive see-thru cupboards and cabinets?

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I've never seen any, but it doesn't seem they would be strong enough to hold the load of dishes that most of of us put in our cabinets.

I guess if you don't have many dishes it would look good, but I can only imagine a very cluttered look. Open shelving looks cluttered to me.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 11:30PM
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It certainly could be done. The only material that would be practical would be polycarbonate, or Lexan. Other clear plastics, like Plexiglass are not very strong or shatter resistant. 1/2" thick Lexan would be several times stronger than plywood cabinets, and would also be frighteningly expensive. Any plastic will scratch easily, so you would have to be very careful keeping them clean. I don't know if a cabinet shop could handle Lexan; it machines easily with metal working equipment, though. Certainly an interesting idea!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2010 at 4:28AM
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OK, thoughtful inputs, thanks much. I wondered where the edges of the technical and economic "envelope" were... forming an idea.

On the visual front, the clutter issue is a key consideration. Certainly the "miscellaneous" cupboard should be frosted. Probably the exposed sides of all cabs would end up frosted too. Still, the majority of my cupboards are neat stacks and rows of semi-stylish wares, and my overall decor is very Modernist--not stark at all, a LOT of warm woods, but still very clean and geometric lines. Clear plastics can work here, in careful doses.

I guess what I'm after, primarily, is not a transparent showcase for mundane dishes, but a visual de-bulking of the significant masses in a small space. I figured non-opaque planes might be one way to get there.

Probably end up with sleek wood/steel frames, with sides and doors made of Lexan or tempered glass... any vendor ideas there?

Thanks in advance.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2010 at 11:39AM
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Any hope of just getting rid of most of your uppers? That can go a very long way to opening up a small space. I'm guessing not, because you describe it as a tiny kichenette... but, if you've got a closet/pantry, maybe?

    Bookmark   October 7, 2010 at 11:50AM
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Uppers, yes, that's really what I'm talking about. Who needs 'em? To be truly "Mod" we must break with tradition, oui/non? There is already an adjacent built-in wet-bar+glass shelves "stack" w/ underneath storage that tastefully extends the kitchenette beyond its "official" boundaries, into the dining area. (Wet bars and martinis were certainly important in the 1950s, lol.)

That thing could be re-architected into a more useful format. I've oft thought of re-building it's one (drywall) side panel out of glass block... would be very MidMod, and "de-bulking", yet still establish a plane... hmmmm...

A foot-operated dumbwaiter, which brings dishes up from below floor-level, on demand, would be way cool, but I'm pretty sure the downstairs neighbors would object, LOL.

Like pizza dough, good ideas need to be tossed and spun a bit to reach their best form. ;')

    Bookmark   October 7, 2010 at 1:46PM
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It is my experience that even neat stacks of nice objects can make a small space feel more closed-in due to the "cluttered" effect than if the objects are behind a cabinet that takes up some space. But that is me. Before investing in custom cabinets, maybe you should try living with open shelving for a while.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 9:15PM
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It is a worthy thought, but very hard to execute.
The "breaking point" for Lexan or polycarbonate panels is the 24 inch mark. Up to that dimension, you do not have to allow for expansion of the material; beyond that, like 25 inches and more, you would. And that would be difficult to do in a cabinet totally built of Lexan.

Some brief comments:
1. I have used the stemware racks mounted across my windows in the dining room, and hang all my stemware there. Since they are wooden, I placed them so they make the windows appear to have muntins. Then the glassware, or even Swarovski crystal stars, hang nicely shining without much obstructing the view of my back yard. I have tried cafe curtains across the bottoms of those windows, but I see no reason why this would not also work with base cabs below.

2. Look at any cafeteria, and you will see that the stacks of plates are on a spring or hydraulic tray that rises and falls as plates or saucers are removed or added to the stack. It would go into a base cabinet which could be a really great way to use the dead corner space in some kitchen configurations. You know, where the base cabs make an "L" and you have an awkward time reaching the contents.

3. I saw an inspiration photo of wooden cabs hung in front of windows. They have glass front and back, so the light comes through. There are also examples of glass front/back cabs across the upper area over a bar separating the dining room and the kitchen.

4. I've seen at IKEA the use of clear material for the bottom of a cabinet, so that any light below it would shine UP as well as down. This would illuminate the interior of the cab also without restricting full use of the bottom shelf.

5. I wish to point out that commercial airliners have windows made of thick Lexan or polycarbonate...or at least they did once upon a time. And I have used 24" wide and 8' tall panels to enclose our sun porch with .24 of an inch thick (almost a quarter inch) as the material. This is also our material of choice for the clerestory windows in our new masterbath and master closet. Plus we also used the same material for the back porch windows. I've also brought some small pieces to use as shelves in our curio cabinet in my DH's cape house, lovely since I can put a short rope light on a dimmer inside the base of that cab and it will be hidden totally. I think it will illuminate all three of the shelves, sized 14w x 11.5 deep. Out of Lexan of course.

I heartily recommend that you explore the attributes of Lexan before you invest your funds in a big project using this very strong and expensive material. I love it. But I also realize that it scratches. You must clean it with care. It will melt if you place heat too close to it. So locating your toaster under a cab made of Lexan could cause it to deform. Or maybe your microwave? But using Lexan in certain spots where scratches don't show, or heat won't be present, you have a really fine material.

So take a look at that workhorse GLASS (not fiberglas) as the front and back of your cabs, and you may have the same effect without the expense. I'm not sure what they make "nonglare glass" out of, but it feels like glass to me. That is also expensive, just not quite as much as Lexan.

I like your willingness to think outside the box. And when brainstorming, I don't put down any ideas because the first salvo might not win the game, but it gets the game started. They are trying to make unbreakable glass now which can be affordably used in homes subject to hurricane forces, and they may soon have it done. So if that is affordable for windows, I see no reason it could not be affordable for mostly-glass cabs or other items, like aquariums are. But with some strong framework to keep it in shape.

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 10:25PM
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Mocc, thanks for the lengthy reply, as I'm quite the noob when it comes to the materials in question. Usefully novel configurations you mentioned too, i.e. racks as muntins, translucent cabs, etc. Sweet ideas, all.

Plus the fact that there's only so much homage I'm willing to pay to the 1950s, e.g. NO DISHWASHER--sick of that gig! But even a svelte 18" wide DW or Euro-drawer means the loss of a significant % of lower cab space... thus the need for radical new storage ideas.... yepper, gotta evolve, lol.

On a related note, family member recently enclosed classic 1950s So-Fla attached concrete/CBS carport to make 1-car garage. They were so glad they chose roll-up garage door with clear panes across entire TOP row, as this preserved the "sunny sky" view out the windowed exterior door leading out to the garage, but still gives a high measure of privacy.

Oh look, my neighbors just hoisted their martini flag... gotta go be neighborly... ;')

    Bookmark   October 28, 2010 at 5:37PM
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Don't know why I'm intrigued with this. You are right, they sure don't exist....after too many searches. It does appear though that Europe is designing such.

My first thought is to look at display cases. There are all sizes for store uses. So they must be fairly well made. Most though have a metal framing.

There is no second thought.....

Here is a link that might be useful: Sort of lucite use in kitchen

    Bookmark   October 30, 2010 at 9:45AM
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My first thought is to look at display cases...

There you go, that's the kind of "get your mind out of the kitchen" vector I need. Thanks for the great link, too. Food for thought that's both nutritious and delicious! ;')

    Bookmark   October 30, 2010 at 1:53PM
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