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Feb 23, 2012 10:17 AM

A kitchen without traditional cabinets-thought?

We are planning a small remodelling project at our cottage that includes a new kitchen. Nothing in the exisitng kitchen can be saved or reused and we are starting with raw space. The layout will be like a galley kitchen.

My thought is that I don't want traditional kitchen cabinets. I want open shelving under the counter tops where I will store plates, dishes, pots, pans, etc. I would have few, if any wall-mounted cabinets as one side is open to the living area and the other wall will be mostly windows.

I want shelving for two reasons.

The first is cost. We can get local craftsman to buid out my idea for a very reasonable cost, less than the cheapest of the cheap cabinets from big box home improvement stores.

The second is easy of use. I think if I have everything right at hand, it will be easier to cook and get food the table as well as easier to put clean dishes away if it is all out in the open.

For food storages, I will have a pantry area with sufficient shelving to store non-perishables, spices and such.

I haven't figured out a home for glasses yet, maybe shelving close to the fridge. Maybe glasses will require a cabinet of some sort.

The architect drawing the plans loves the idea, my husband is less than thrilled as he can't shake the idea of traditional kitchen cabinets out of his mind.

Does anyone have a similar, shelving/no door set-up in their kitchen? Any downside to the idea? All my stuff matches or is nice enough to look at that I don't feel a need to "hide" it away. This is cottage with a very casual vibe.

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  1. If this is a place you only go to periodically, a lot of dust/dirt can accumulate on things sitting on open sheves. That said, I have as few cabinets as possible.

    2 Replies
    1. re: escondido123

      We are there three out of four weekends a month.

      Another part of my no cabinet thinking is the current cabinets seem damp-ish at times.

      1. re: cleobeach

        I fall into the dust and grime avoidance camp, I need doors for that reason. But if you have a dampness issue, you could put up doors with fabric centers where panels would otherwise be, to allow for lower moisture. I'd also take steps to mitigate the moisture problem, after assessing where it's coming from, because darkness and damp make for nasty mold allergies, IME.

    2. I got rid of the cabinets on the wall above my stove when I remodeled my kitchen. It's also a galley kitchen. It provides (among other things) a LOT more light in the room! Things DO get dustier, though. and some of that dust is mixed with grease. So everything needs to be washed more often.

      My personal preference would be for a combination of shelves and doorless cabinets. I'm still thinking about that for my kitchen.

      1. A cabinet with a door tends to hide the common problem of shelf sag which happens over time. Overall, I am not a fan of the idea of going without doors.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Steve

          If local carpenters are going to build the shelves, by putting front pieces of wood on the shelves, that will reduce a lot of sag potential. Or use a thicker plywood.
          Or design in a way to flip the shelf surfaces once a year (a sort of odd 4th of July celebration) or some such easily remembered date.)

        2. I like doors to hide everything and for the dust/cleanliness factor. Would you consider a large pantry, with sliding doors? IKEA has nice sliding doors that would be both functional and give you a more modern look. I'm thinking something along these lines (first picture on the left):

          Or from IKEA:

          1 Reply
          1. re: chowser

            The pantry area is already taken care of and I will have a door to that area, probably a pocket door. (We are working with a very small footprint.)

            I hate these types of projects and decisions!

          2. My kitchen has no upper cabinets. Still, going with just shelves poses two problems: dust/grease and lack of easy access to items at the back of the shelf. (This is particularly tough if the shelves are below waist level.) For that reason all of my cabinetry is either drawers--these hold our dishes, pots, glassware, cups, baking pans, strainers/measuring cups, etc. in addition to the usual things like silverware and utensils--or cabinets with shelves that slide out. There are only two cabinets, which hold big things like my standing mixer, food processor, etc. Since the shelves in the cabinets slide out, it is easy to get to everything.

            Drawers are even more expensive to build than cabinets, but they work wonderfully. I first saw the concept on the "kitchen remodel" set of episodes of New Yankee Workshop, and I was immediately hooked on the idea. When we built our new kitchen we went with them for as many items as possible.

            1 Reply
            1. re: travelmad478

              Another vote for drawer storage. I wish I had put in more when I re-did my kitchen. One of my neighbors replaced ALL base cabinets with deep drawers.