Kitchen Trend: No Upper Cabinets

Lately, several beautiful kitchens have caught my attention, and none of them have upper cabinets:

white kitchenTara Pearce

open kitchen with subway tilesource unknown

kitchen no upper cabinetsElle Decor

kitchen remodel via the Inspired RoomThe Inspired Room

kitchen no uppersLonny

open kitchenHouse Beautiful

artwork in kitchen via Lauren LiessLauren Liess Interiors

I do love the open feel and how they make the kitchen feel like more of a real room. But, I’m not sure I’d ever be brave enough to give up the storage space. Would you?


    • jsd079 says

      I agree. Would never, ever do it — its a trend that will definitely pass once people realize they have no place to put their things.

      • Andrea says

        I agree. I could see living without some upper cabinets but certainly not all!. Who wants to bend over to reach everything in lower cabinets all of the time? I do love those kitchens aesthetically though.

  1. Vanessa says

    I thought about taking some out in our current kitchen but we have a soffit to deal with. Much easier to add molding and make it intentional. Also, we need the storage. I like the look in other people’s kitchens, though.

  2. says

    Nope, couldn’t give them up! I’m such a dish lover I don’t have room for them all as it is… Maybe someday if we ever designed a house I could do it but I’d never take them out of our current home. I really love the look, though!

  3. says

    We are in the process of face lifting our kitchen and have removed all of the uppers. I love that it has forced me to get rid of things I don’t need. Letting go feels good and it’s looking amazing!

    • Tiffany says

      Renee – I just sent this post to my sister saying how much I liked the look and look forward to having less of everything.

  4. Melissa says

    I love the look, but my kitchen is small with five bottom cabinets and that includes the two under the sink where I store cleaning supplies around the plumbing. Maybe one day!

  5. Susan says

    I think I could let them go if I had open shelving for the daily dishes or a huge butler’s pantry! In my semi-custom home, I don’t have the storage space to do without at least shelving.

  6. naz says

    Taking a pass on that trend. I don’t need to dust shelves nor do I want to have to bend down to get my glasses and dishes. It just doesn’t seem feasible for a kitchen.

  7. Lizelle says

    We recently renovated our small(!!) kitchen and didn’t put upper cabinets in; we absolutely LOVE it! Makes the room feel so much bigger, as for the extra storage I don’t miss it one bit – forces one to get rid of all your clutter :)

  8. says

    I love the look of it. So open and spacious! I don’t think I’d want to give up the storage though. I did take some of my cabinet doors off last year though and I’ve enjoyed how that opens up the space a bit.

  9. says

    I weighed this option when we put in our new kitchen a few years ago, but I feel the kitchen can sometimes look a bit bottom heavy when there are no uppers or shelving. Instead I did a combination of open shelves, appliance garage to the table top and just one set of two and two horizontal cabinets. That way I still have the storage, but my kitchen doesn’t have the typical “upper cabinets” look. :)

  10. says

    I do like the look of it but I don’t think I could remove all the upper cabinets – it would mean dusty dishes, and I would have to keep things styled all pretty, which would be too much work for me. I like the half and half look. Half uppers and half open shelving.

  11. Heidi says

    No way. 4 kids, a ton of entertaining. I can barely contain all the stuff I use now-there is NO way I would go for this “trend.” I think like many things it looks cool-but is pretty impractical.

  12. says

    i am totally on board with this trend! we removed our uppers and our kitchen feels so much brighter and bigger! but that could also be due to ditching mustard vinyl floors and matching formica countertops…

  13. Zoe borrowdale says

    I haven t had upper cabinets for over 15 years and I love the look even though it is completely impractical for me. I m six foot two and the second smallest in my family. I love the fact that it looks less like a kitchen and that I can put artwork on the walls and it has ‘ room to breathe’ .I have read previous comments about not having enough storage if the upper cabinets are removed but really, how much STUFF do you need in a kitchen. I realise that not everyone in the US has super huge kitchens but on the whole they do seem to be bigger than the UK and I think the more cupboards you have the more you feel you need to hoard stuff. I m no minimalist , but having fewer cupboards makes me think twice about introducing a new kitchen gadget or set of crockery. Do I need it? Probably not.

  14. Erin says

    All of the kitchens above have more storage in lower drawers and cabinets than I have in my entire kitchen with both, so I’m the same as many others; I love the look, but it would not be practical in our current kitchen. Now, if I could custom design a kitchen with plenty of storage in the lower cabinets (or a butler’s pantry) for all the stuff we use regularly, including food, then I might be tempted.

  15. says

    Hi! I’m pretty new to the whole blogging world, but working on my own blog and my own little home, I love seeing other people’s views, so here’s mine…..I love it and I am actually doing it in my own kitchen, (and I have a really little kitchen, and a big family….quadruplets in the mix!) I think the thing for me is, I really want my open shelving to house the stuff I use everyday, so for me, it’s a perfect place to buy what you LOVE, because then you can display it, and use it and it’s within reach. I use my open shelving for tons of white dishes, cool patterned bowls, and lots of serveware, mixing bowls, etc., Ha, then it definitely gives me a reason to check out my fave stores, like TJ, who couldn’t use another gem from there??? :) I love your blog Emily!!!

  16. Sheila says

    Love how it looks but would never do it unless I had a huge kitchen. Plus I cook real meals, bake and preserve foods as well entertain guests. I am not a hoarder but I do need a fair amount of stuff to do those things.

  17. Centsational Girl says

    I’m a classic, I prefer a glass front cabinet or two, or a little bit of open shelving but these are really beautiful! The airy aesthetic is wonderful but I need just a little storage above!
    Great post,

  18. Annie says

    Over the last three years, I have released my attachment to things. I had a huge, wall length shelving unit set aside for everything needed to entertain up to 50 people. It was all nice, clean, organized and quite frankly interesting, many of the pieces and sets were fun, quirky vintage stuff. I loved my stuff, loved it! Then I began to realize I was spending way too much time coveting my possessions and not taking enough enjoyment out of the actual people interactions. So I sold everything off that shelving plus all the “stuff” hanging out in my kitchen that I rarely used and I never looked back. It’s the best thing I ever did, releasing my attachment not only to things I enjoyed, but to stuff I might need down the road just in case (that was the hardest). The only thing in the kitchen for uppers now is two open shelves which allows for the dishes we use weekly. Contrary to opinion, nothing ever gets dusty cause everything gets used at least a few times a week if not every day. And I now focus on the here and now…meaningful interactions in daily life and certainly when we entertain, rather than being distracted by focusing on stuff. Although at that time, I loved my stuff (it was cool stuff :) it’s just that it wasn’t working for me anymore and I’m much lighter and happier now. No uppers is not for everyone, it’s a brave thing to do and maybe even not practical for larger families. But it kind of does help to bring the focus back to people and not things, I think. Sorry for being so windy.

  19. Mary says

    I love the look in your photos. And I second the comments about getting rid of our stuff! But you would definitely need a pantry of some sort. I grew up in an old house (circa 1890’s) and we did not have upper cabinets. We had a small pantry (nook) with shelves. I would love to have that option now. (I would also love to have a detached garage… but that is another topic. ) So, perhaps this isn’t a new trend, just a revisit to the way it was done a long time ago.

  20. says

    The one with the HUGE chandelier is absolutely stunning! The room would have to be large enough to compensate for the lack of upper cabinetry.with loads of lower cabinets. Just think of the counter space!!!

  21. Susan says

    Re: Open shelving & dust… Constant circulation of “out in the open” dishes is the key. My last kitchen was short on storage. My solution was to store the dishes on a freestanding metal baker’s rack and our flatware in a basket with dividers on the table. Bowls & cups on trays/racks near coffee/breakfast cereal. This created ‘stations’ that saved time and made unloading dishwasher a snap. I then used a large freestanding “secretary” as a pantry–worked so well, still do.

  22. Stephanie says

    I love the look, and with a large kitchen there would be plenty of storage with just the lower cabinets. However, with a family of 6 & a small kitchen I couldn’t do it. It does make me want to have some open shelving though, for the things that get used daily.

  23. Georgina says

    It is interesting that several kitchen have “upper” shelves which were added after. You need a pretty big kitchen to store your gear if you eliminate uppers. My kitchen is 15 x 25 and I love by floor to ceiling wall of storage!p

  24. karen says

    When we remodeled our kitchen we did as Annie described above. We tossed anything that wasn’t used regularly or for sure for holidays. We have no upper cabinets and very efficent use of space (to be fair, I do have a large kitchen) but still, it makes appreciating the form and function of what you have so much sweeter. We also hung painting and scultpures on our kitchen walls. Dust and dirt is not such a big deal and the impact is phenomenal. Love your blog.

  25. says

    I decided 20 years ago to forgo upper cabinets. My kitchen and den are very open and I thought it would hopefully not scream “kitchen”. Since I never had the space I don’t miss it. Love the fact that I can change out the art……..beautiful examples.

  26. says

    It’s not that I don’t love the look of these kitchens without upper cabinets — but, it would be impractical. Bending and stooping, on a daily basis, to gather necessary kitchen items, would not be a workable plan for me.

  27. Beth says

    I do love the look but I guess I am sort of lazy. I would hate bending down to get everything. We even had an upper shelving unit between the two sinks included in our bathroom with baskets for stuff we use a lot ;)

  28. mel says

    I debated over upper cabinets until my mother said, “Wait until you’re older. No way are you going to want to crawl around on the floor to get everything you need.” So. I went with lower and minimal uppers. Then did a large walk-in pantry next to the kitchen. This holds nearly everything from canned goods, boxed products, and canning jars filled with rice, beans, popcorn, etc. It’s still pretty. And it’s easily accessible. . . .for mom and me!

  29. Angela Glidewell says

    There’s a house down the street that’s for sale that I so want to buy. (no money) It doesn’t have upper cabinets. I’ve heard people talking, “who would want to buy it with no upper cabinets.” I’m like, are you kidding me it is soooo in right now. I love House Hunter International and most International homes don’t have uppers.

  30. Terah Webster says

    We have plans to renovate our kitchen, had a designer in one of the home improvement stores work with us, gave her a list along w/a few pictures of what we want in our new kitchen. Plans are to have drawers where “all” the lower cabinets are w/exception of base cabinet where sink will be. Plan to have two tall cabinets at one end of counter (we have a U shaped kitchen ) – each cabinet has an upper cabinet and lower cabinet with 2 drawers between the cabinets; will keep my remaining upper cabinets; however, I wouldn’t mind doing away with them. Also plan to have an island and it too will have drawers, no cabinets! :)

  31. Maya says

    First of all thank you for all the beautiful photos and your succinct writing style. I live in Hawaii where space is at a premium and I’m also five feet tall and have arthritis. I have one room that consisted of a tiny living room, dining room and a corridor kitchen that fit one person at a time. Then down the hall are two small bedrooms for my children when they were small. I am not only opening up the kitchen to widen the space and have only one wall that will be kitchen, DR. and foyer but will have no upper cabinets at all. I think this will not only make the front room look bigger but make it easier for me to maneuver in the space. I can’t reach my top cabinets at all. I still don’t know what I will use instead. I really don’t like photos and a lot of knick knacks. I should say I also am getting rid of all my stuff of which there was little and getting only things I need that are both useful and beautiful. I will not have cabinets on the bottom but will have drawers that will fit all we will have and a small pantry my contractor is going to build. I am more excited about the two bedroom being combined into finally one big living room opening to my small back garden. I am not adding any space to my 1100 square foot 2 level townhouse but making it more useful. For me and my partner and my dogs this is the best decision for my age and physical challenges. Thank you again and Aloha,

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