Wall Cabinets or No Wall Cabinets?

Eliminating wall cabinets is definitely trending as 2016 draws to a close. If it’s a look you admire, are you brave enough remove wall cabinets and go with empty space or possibly floating, display shelves? It’s a difficult decision, and one you will have to live with after it’s made. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of each.

Full disclosure, right at the onset: I work for a custom cabinet company and, of course, we want every order to include wall cabinets, as many as possible! But we’re all about giving our customers what they want and our floating shelves are beautiful to look at and beautifully made.

With that out of the way, here are some of the pros for traditional wall cabinets. They

1.) Provide lots of storage.

2.) Hide the clutter and disorganized dishes of a busy life.

3.) Give kitchen a cohesive design look.

4.) Personalize the space with many design options, such as glass fronts, mullions, staggered heights and decorative elements like crown mouldings and onlays.

Traditional wall cabinets must have some cons since people are doing away with them. They
1.) Take up space.

2.) Make a kitchen feel smaller and (possibly) darker.

3.) Cost more than shelves (can’t argue with that one).


OK, so how about those open shelves everyone seems to want. They
1.) Make a room feel more open while providing storage.

2.) Keep frequently used items in reach.

3.) Create a display that tells a personal story.

On the negative side, open shelves 

1.) Require lots of maintenance to keep clutter controlled. Plus dusting.

2.) Put it all out there to create a busy look not everyone wants to see

Not quite ready to go without wall cabinets? One of the beauties of custom cabinetry is the array of options available. You can achieve open-ness without sacrificing the unifying look of wall cabinets by having one or two cabinet without doors. This gives you the open shelves look and feel without having to commit to eliminating the wall cabinets completely.

Another option is to order one or two cabinets with frosted glass doors. Here you can get an open appearance or at least a break in a solid run of wooden cabinet doors. And you can hide things behind that frosted glass.

If you’re remodeling an existing space or building a new home, your designer will be able to help you with the style expression you’re trying to achieve. He or she will create a lay-out with different ways to approach the wall cabinet vs. open shelves conundrum. The design flexibility offered by custom cabinets is limitless.

If you have a fabulous view and are installing a window wall to frame it, standard wall cabinets and shelves are probably out. Then you’ll need your designer to help you select cabinet storage accessories to maximize every available inch of the cabinets you do have. There is no lack of stylish storage options - you just have to know where to find them and where to put them.

Mixing and matching is always an option. But from what we’ve seen on line and in the shelter pubs, it’s all one or the other.

I love the look of the open shelves, have to be honest. However, I wouldn’t want to live without wall cabinets to hide the mis-matched coffee mugs and drinking glasses, the rolled down, half-empty bags of coffee and open containers of hot sauce. No way would I want to display cereal boxes. Remember Jerry Seinfeld’s kitchen?