NO or Few Uppers - What is your take?

autumn.4October 2, 2012

For those of you with few to no upper cabinets...where do you put your glasses?

Do you have everything in drawers?

How many do you have and do you wish you had MORE/less?

I am considering a floor plan with the kitchen only against one outside wall and keep debating back and forth on if I can or should try to squeeze a window in somewhere, as drawn it doesn't have one. The dining room will give it plenty of light (I have seen a picture of a similar layout and it didn't feel dark at all) but there is just something about having a KITCHEN window that makes me hesitant. I'm not loving the peninsula either but that's a post for another time (but feel free to comment if you feel moved to do so).

Here is the kitchen/dining area:

Thank you for any and all comments/experiences.

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I have 4 uppers. One bank on one side of the cooktop, and one on the other. Family of 3 plus frequent guests. We do run out of room for glasses sometimes, but that is only because I don't have a buffet to store party dishes. I store some bowls in a drawer.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 5:31PM
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I agree with you about the peninsula, I wouldn't be crazy about having just one access to the kitchen from the family room/breakfast room. By DR, do you mean the breakfast room as shown above? I could imagine a nice layout with one long stretch along that exterior wall, plus an island and a table to eating. Or an L shaped kitchen, with uppers along that exterior 14'8" wall, no uppers along the long run with window, breakfast table in the middle. Lots of options there if playing with the breakfast area is on the table (so to speak).

Regarding your question - I'd LOVE to go without uppers altogether, but I needed two, on either side of my sink. I store glasses there, plus some plates, bowls, etc. If I had sufficient drawer space I wouldn't hesitate to store my glasses in drawers, many people here on GW have done so successfully.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 7:00PM
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chinchette-actually now that I think about it, right now I only have 1 upper used for glasses and it is tight. Kids cups are in a different spot. The rest of the uppers have dishes in them, bowls, bakeware. I am hoping to use mostly drawers with the build if I can afford it. I am trying to get a feel for how many uppers I would absolutely NEED to function. Thanks for sharing.

Sochi-sorry - yes the 'breakfast room' is actually the only eating space so it is the all purpose all meals room. :) Playing with the breakfast room is definitely 'on the table'. I am thinking of turning the peninsula into an island. Having it dead end like that plus the fridge right there would be a major traffic jam. I just don't know if I'd have enough space in that footprint to make the island with the fridge still on that end. So fridge, aisle, then start of island if that makes sense.

I just can't picture glasses in drawers for some reason. I'll have to google for pictures.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 7:28PM
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I have few uppers now, and in my new house I plan on having even less. Instead I'm opting for more windows. But then I'm a natural-light freak who is afraid of darkness and gloom. I find I also don't like working at a counter that has uppers nearly as much as I like working at a counter that has none.

We keep our glasses in a deep drawer located right next to the dishwasher.

The few uppers I have now are used to store dry-goods, spices, tea, etc. But you will have a big pantry for that! Our plates and bowls are stored on open-shelving at the end of the island that faces the range. Just yesterday, DH said we had to have the same set-up for plates in the new kitchen because it's so convenient for plating things coming right off the stove (grilled cheese, omelets, etc).

I guess it depends on your view, and whether or not you'd keep those windows uncovered (no neighbors or is there a house 5 ft away from your kitchen wall?). But if it were me, I'd lose an upper or two and add a window into the actual kitchen area.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 7:29PM
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Jenswren-those are some beautiful windows! Very nice. We are on 2 wooded acres and there will be neighbors to the south (the kitchen wall) but likely will not be able to see them - definitely not in summer but we'll have to see what it looks like after the leaves drop this fall. No issues with glasses breaking/clanking? Issues with kids breaking/clanking at all? I have a 7 and 10 year old. For some reason I think that would be awkward to reach low instead of high but I also think that I could still have an upper or 2 if I wanted AND the windows. Wishing the layout was 14-8 LONG instead of 14-8 WIDE. Thanks for the pics!

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 7:47PM
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The way I see your space, you've got 23'4" x 14'8" - room for windows, cabs and a nice long rectangular table. Or a round one.

Any chance that you are doing a country kitchen, or even modern country? I could see a super long 23' run, one or two great antique pantries on the upper dining room wall and/or the kitchen/pantry/pw wall (although the fridge will probably stay there). Then throw in a long country table, for meals and for cutting up the apples for apple pie and other prep. Lots of room for no uppers, esp. with that pantry room you have.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 10:10PM
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I meant that I have two double upper cabinets. i.e.:

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 10:16PM
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I have cabinets and am keeping it that way. I'm too messy.

I am compelled to comment upon your peninsula. I have no use for islands, but I have to say in your layout, it would make me NUTS to have to walk all the way around that thing, rather than just around what would be an island.

I vote for chopping it out and making an island.
There. Hell has definitely frozen over. Snowballs, anyone?

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 11:34PM
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We only have uppers for wine glasses and our nicer serving trays and dishes. Everything else is either in a drawer or pantry. I think drawers would be great for kids cups. They are much easier to reach for (no climbing on the counter to get one) and you could keep all their cups in their own drawer. I love my new window and would never trade it for more cabinets.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 1:58AM
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At this rate - I am hopeful that I can have a couple of uppers AND at least one window. I need to play with the dimensions a bit. I love that look of windows flanking the stove but that may take up too much space.

chinchette-thanks for the pic. I should probably clarify as well - I have 1 single upper for glasses so a double would be more than enough. Then I have 2 other doubles and another single. That stuff could all be in drawers though I'd think.

CEFreeman-I love the look of open/glass fronts but no, if everything wasn't absolutely perfect inside it'd drive me and dh both bonkers. Totally agree on the peninsula. I'll have to do something different there for sure. I think besides the peninsula issue, the fridge is going to be the pain to place in that layout. Don't really like it where it is. Thanks for the laugh - you definitely have a way with words!

Sochi-thanks for the different perspective - never though of it as one larger space! That gives me some more flexibility. I haven't thought that far but probably not so much country but more maybe a craftsmanish style? We like the shaker or more simply styled cabinets, likely stained. We also like the slate look. I'm not sure if that is country or modern country??? Here are a couple images from houzz that we like:

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 6:50AM
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I think the unfitted, no uppers look is really a BIG kitchen. I'd be concerned about having enough room, not that yours is a small kitchen - just not really big. Maybe plot out what you would put where, to make sure you don't need them? We have a small kitchen and I am a natural light hog too, so we put glass cabs on either side of the sink. Just two, but it makes the light from the kitchen window above the sink seem to bounce off everything and add more light. Easy to keep neat - we just keep our white dishes and white coffee cups and like clear glasses and wine glasses all in the glass front cabs...our "ugly" glass and dishwear is hidden in other cabinets and drawers ;-)

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 9:10AM
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Those images appear to be traditional/craftsman style to me, a little contemporary. I really like craftsman kitchens, but I do find that they can be a bit oppressive with stained upper cabinets - they seem lighter with glass fronts or white uppers, or no uppers of course.

I agree with AboutToGetDusty that you need to have enough room to go without uppers. I think if you use that long 23' run, plus the end 14' run I think you will have LOTS of cabinets. Put uppers on the 14" run. I really like this picture - imagine the wall with floor to ceiling cabinets on your 14' run, then just tile and windows, and/or shelves, on your long run. Add a beautiful long craftsman dining table.

I drew up a quick 23'x14' space, just for an idea, it is pretty rough obviously, but hopefully you get the idea.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 9:22PM
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Just to clarify, there is an optimal way to configure a long run kitchen like this, I haven't done so - I just randomly placed a few things to give you a sense of what was possible. I'm sure if you post about a similar lay out you will get lots of tips on where to put what to make it a highly functional space.

I'd love a kitchen with a nice big table to eat at, prep at, etc., right in the heart of the kitchen. I think you have enough width (just) to have the table and have adequate aisle space for the chef. Keeping the fridge and pantry off to the right side will keep snack seekers away from the main cooking area. I would ensure that your fridge has water, that way you don't need a second sink. With a set up like this I'd probably go for on of those long gorgeous Kohler Stages sinks.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 12:43PM
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Sochi-Thank you so much for posting a quick mock up - it helps the visually challenged like myself! ;) I can honestly say the thought never occured to me to make it an all in one space in that way. I have to really think on this. I'm not sure how it would feel to have the table sort of be the island and be the only eating space. It does really open the space up though. I also need to think on having the table back right up to the family room....which isn't really much different than if it were an island with seating but hmmmm, totally new concept for me! While I think that set up is country kitchen at heart I'm feeling like it's kind of a modern approach (or just completely new to me so that = modern, lol).... I haven't played with the kitchen dimensions much yet (we are in the midst of loving the plan and making sure it's one that is within the budget).

So I have played around with thoughts regarding the windows but haven't gotten into the nitty gritty in case the build itself is a budget buster and we have to do something else! I will be sure to post here for help when I am ready though. I don't want to use up too much of anyone's generously given time unless I know it's going to be the plan we end up with. We have already switched from a ranch to a 1.5 story due to the property that we purchased.

Thank you so much for your ideas! This site is so awesome at helping to think out of the box and get an efficient and pleasing to the eye workspace! I will be back for more as we get closer!

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 1:03PM
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IMHO, your house as drawn will not get much natural light. The windows in the family room look out to the covered veranda, so you will only get indirect light from those windows. This will not make your room feel bright and airy.

You have two walls of windows in the breakfast room. These are the only source of direct light for a large area that is 25x30ft or so. In this house, the windows are pushed to one corner. Depending which direction the windows face, you will only have a few hours of light during the day. If those windows face North, then you will have very little light.

A lot of pictures that you see on the magazines and internet are done by professional photographers with huge stage lights on. The photos are not representative of how the room really feels in real life with the amount of windows shown. You have to walk into the house and turn off all lights and then look around.

I wish you the best. The house as drawn would not suffice for me. I would put large windows over the sink. I would put clerestory windows over the book cases by the fireplace. This will give you light and storage on that wall. When windows are higher up on the wall, they bring in more light. This is one of the reasons why houses with taller ceilings feel so much lighter.

i agree with everyone regarding the peninsula that blocks traffic.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 2:03PM
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One more thing: I got rid of many uppers and enlarged the window. I am happy with the sparse clean look. I keep all of my dishes and glasses in deep drawers. i dot have issues of glasses chipping in the drawers. the glasses chip and scratch in the DW, not in the drawers. I buy cheap glasses and replace them regularly. I refused to not use DW for washing glasses. To me it is a good trade off to use the DW and not worry too much about glasses. I have visited families that wash glasses by hand because of chipping, etching, scratching issues. Each to his/her own.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 2:12PM
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Form follows function. Especially in kitchen layouts.

Sochi makes a very good point. The fridge is THE most often-accessed area by non-cooks. You want it at the junction point - where the cook(s) can get into it, but conversely where the non-cooks who are going to open the fridge door and stand there, staring into it in the hopes that a ham-and-cheese-sandwich will suddenly plop into their hands, will NOT be in the way of anyone working at the stove, the ovens, the pantry or the sink.

Especially those cooks who are grabbing hot pots and suddenly turning around to look for a serving dish. Or trying to carry an 8-qt pot of pasta to the sink.

Can you tell my DH drives me crazy every day by standing in front of an open fridge, staring hopefully into it? LOL!

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 4:19PM
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Kaismom-the family room wall faces east. The kitchen wall that I am thinking of putting windows in faces south. Beyond the fireplace wall is the master bedroom. I'm not sure if that roof line could be higher to include windows or not - good question for me to ask the architect when we get to that point. Maybe since the bedrooms are not over the master it's doable. Thank you for your thoughts, I appreciate the honesty. This will be our first build (and likely last) and most homes we are in are ranches so I don't have a great reference point. The porch though - is one of my favorite parts of the house so I need to figure something out to keep it and not feel dark and closed in. We were going to take a few feet off the depth hoping that would also help.

I actually did see another home (in pictures but I don't believe professionally taken) from a fellow gwber that is similar and it didn't seem too dark - but that is definitely a concern. That is the main reason I'm trying to figure out adding windows in the kitchen!

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 4:20PM
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Oops I read the blueprint quickly. I did not realize that the FP was on the interior wall.. My bad.

Anyhow, you have an architect. He/she should be able to help you understand the relationship of light and how the house sits on your property. Since the window in question is a South window, depending on where you live, you have to weigh the issue of heat gain versus light coming in carefully. There is no right answer to this. It really depends on shading from large trees, overhang of the roof, shading from neighbors house if any, etc etc. This is not something that can be answered on this forum. This is what a good architect should be able to do for you.

Personally, I would go for windows with good sunshade, if it was me. I can always shade and block light coming in with a window there, but I cannot bring in more light if I did not have the window.

If you have a south facing house in a hot climate, then you have to address the issue of shading in the summer any rate to make the house is comfortable. Poorly place windows can be just as terrible as no windows. I remember sitting in the Smithsonian cafeteria with large sky lights that 'cooked' the diners inside. They put sky lights in Washington DC, a place where they have 90F temperature and 90% humidity all summer....

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 7:19PM
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jkom51-sorry I just saw your post! I have a similar situation in our current home that I would like to avoid only I have 3 boys (one is dh) at different times standing at the fridge - aisle only 29" with the door SHUT! So - I can commiserate on the fridge placement issue. I am all for moving it out of there but I need to be able to have enough room to make that peninsula an island and move it over there with space for a generous aisle OR move it to the wall by the dining area. I think that would be the best spot for it but dh doesn't want to see it from the living room. That conversation got a little bit ummm, escalated so we have tabled it for now. Really - arguing over a refrigerator when we aren't 100% locked into the plan yet, lol?!?!?! Geesh!

Kaismom-I am hoping the architect will be able to help us out with all of that (haven't chosen one yet). Western Michigan so 4 seasons but winter seems to last longer than the others, ha! I would love to gain heat in the winter from the windows but have some sort of shielding for the summer. This last one was unseasonably HOT but we have had summers where we barely need the a/c.

Thanks again ladies.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 8:57AM
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This may not be your style, but I like the windows and light, by the range. Great place for growing herbs, too :)

From [Lavender Lass farmhouse pictures](
    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 2:08PM
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Our current layout has very few uppers and we are adding more uppers in our new layout. We are in a state of partial demolition for a few weeks and have no uppers right now. Yes, the light is great but I hate reaching below the counter for glasses. If I ever wondered how I'd like dishes and glasses in drawers, now I know I don't. Try it out and see how you like it, you may feel differently....

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 3:54PM
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