10 Kitchens Without Upper Cabinets

updated Jun 5, 2019
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Do you snip and pin photos of favorite kitchens for future (ah, someday!) inspiration? I do too, and I realized that many of the kitchens I loved had one thing in common: No upper cabinets. It might seem crazy to forego the storage that upper cabinets offer, but there are some significant advantages in return. See ten inspiring kitchens here that ditched the uppers, and read more on why it’s sometimes a good idea.

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Gorgeous Grey/Gray Kitchen-Tradition with a Twist – at Willow Decor. Many kitchens without upper cabinets are modern in style, but this one leans more traditional. I love the windows flanking the stove. (Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

It must be said that a kitchen without upper cabinets can feel conspicuously luxurious. “I don’t need upper cabinets,” it says. “I have all the space I need and more!” Many of the kitchens pictured are generously sized, even by suburban standards. They have the luxury of separate pantries and miles of lower drawers to hold tools, pans, ingredients, and dishes.

But even a small kitchen can benefit from cutting the upper cabinets. Why? It makes a space feel so much more open, and it leaves the wall space free for something just as important: Windows. This is why I decided to go without upper cabinets in the new kitchen I am building right now. It’s not a huge kitchen, although it is more generous than an urban apartment kitchen usually would be. (It’s in an old house in the Midwest.) I wanted yards of windows for light and breeze.

Going without upper cabinets also helps the kitchen feel more like a regular room, not a storeroom or pantry, flowing easily into the dining or living spaces — a very popular layout these days. And even the smallest apartments and homes often have a little bit of extra space that can be grabbed for pantry storage (a shallow closet, even a tall space between the studs of the wall!).

And finally, my upper cabinets are just not that functional; I am very short and have to climb up on a stool to get things above my eye-level! Lowering everything below the countertops will be a relief, and easier to keep organized.

Here are some of my primary inspirations in creating a kitchen with no upper cabinets. Does this appeal to you? Or is it not practical for the space you’re in? If you have a kitchen with no uppers, do you like it?

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• 6 Ardsley Kitchen – Robbins Architecture.
• 7 Brooklyn Brownstone Kitchen – Apartment Therapy.
• 8 Bonnard Paris Apartment Kitchen – by Antonio Virga.
• 9 Melody’s Beautifully-Designed Pacific Northwest Kitchen – The Kitchn.
• 10 Michigan Kitchen – Robbins Architecture.

Related: Open and Light: A Kitchen That Flows Into the Home