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Kitchen Cabinet Alternatives: Should I Remove My Kitchen Wall Cabinets?

Thinking of designing your kitchen without wall cabinets? These gorgeous rooms might help you make up your mind

Houzz UK Editorial Staff. I’m a freelance journalist with more than 13 years’ experience… More

It’s long been a standard choice when designing a kitchen to include wall cupboards as well as base units. However, many designers and homeowners have been thinking differently lately, creating cookspaces with no upper units at all. Take a look at these beautiful kitchens to see how well such schemes can work, and to help you decide if it’s the right choice for your space.

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Make space
This U-shaped kitchen has a simple, uncluttered style, with metro tiles lining the walls right up to the ceiling. The lack of wall units helps to keep that streamlined look, and prevents the space feeling too enclosed.

The designers have gone for kitchen shelves instead of cabinets as an alternative storage solution. A steel shelf, which matches the oven and extractor, provides an extra area for decorative items, and the base units and tall cabinet offer plenty more spots to stash kitchenalia.

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The key to storage success here, however, is that the space is linked to the dining room (this is the same room looking the other way), where two built-in dressers add an extra place for tableware, cookery books and other essentials.

If you’re struggling to do without wall units in your own home, but like the look, think about other places you can store items. Prioritise those tools you use frequently and make space for them in the kitchen, while putting items used less frequently elsewhere.

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Raise your game
To make the most of the feeling of space that having no wall units gives you, think about where to position any shelving you might add. In this kitchen, they’ve chosen kitchen shelves instead of cabinets again, but the shelf has been installed close to the ceiling and in line with the hidden extractor fan above the hob. By leaving the space clear above the worktops, the kitchen feels more airy and uncluttered.

There’s plenty of storage in this kitchen, with cuboards along the wall and in the island, as well as tall cabinets with integrated appliances at the side. The designers have chosen to use the width of the room in order to leave the wall clear of units.

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Go dark and dramatic up high…
If you’re using a strong colour on your walls, it pays to show it off without the distraction of cabinets. Here, the inky black walls look stunning against the white base units, and the black shelves are ideal for displaying more bright white items to contrast with the dark walls.

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…or down low
Similarly, dark units contrast beautifully with white walls. In fact, there isn’t much space for wall units in this kitchen anyway, but even if there was, a row of dark cabinets above the worktops would have distracted from the striking look of the room. The clear expanse of metro tiles gives this kitchen a cool, dramatic feel.

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Get creative
By avoiding wall units, you can give yourself the opportunity to introduce different storage ideas. The owners of this kitchen have added personality to their space with some kitchen cabinet alternatives made from distressed wood and copper piping. The upcycled items add much more interest and character to the room than standard cupboards.

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Highlight architectural features
If the walls in your kitchen benefit from beautiful architectural details, don’t feel you need to cover them up. In order to have fitted wall cabinets in this country cookspace, the owners would have had to plaster the walls, hiding the beautiful stonework. Instead, the designers have configured the kitchen in order to do without wall units, leaving the stonework to take centre stage.

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Showcase other elements
The walnut veneer on these kitchen cabinets is a striking feature in the room. In order to appreciate its beautiful grain, the rest of the space needed to be kept simple.

A wall of soft marble with two simple rows of shelving is perfect for complementing the base units without fighting with them. By taking the shelves along the whole length of worktops, the designers have provided plenty of extra storage space for the owners to put cookware, glassware and ornaments.

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Keep it fresh and airy
The fresh colour scheme of this kitchen gives the room a light feel, the white walls and worktop toning with the cream units to create a wonderfully bright space. Wall units would have looked fine here, but by leaving the area clear, the designer has lifted the space even more. It feels elegant, uncluttered and airy.

See more cream kitchens on Houzz

What are your thoughts on wall units? Are they a must-have for you, or would you consider doing without them? Share your thoughts in the Comments section.
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