Kitchen Tour

This Kitchen Renovation Proves That Removing Cabinets Can Actually *Increase* Storage

published Jun 5, 2023
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Kitchen during demolition with upper cabinets removed.

If the thought of removing kitchen cabinets is daunting, you’re not alone. Where would you store the pots and pans? Or the endless supply of spices and herbs? But homeowners Nayeli Crossdale and Nate Lopez prove in their Austin, Texas renovation that removing kitchen cupboards doesn’t mean less storage, and, in their case, it actually brightened up their space. 

“The kitchen felt really dark and closed-in when we had the upper cabinets,” Crossdale writes. “They blocked a lot of the light from the window and made the room feel really dark.”

It wasn’t just that the original cabinets limited natural light. They were also painted a somber dark brown. So, Crossdale and Lopez removed the cabinets and decided to reimagine their space. Here’s how they made it the airy, light-filled room it is today — and increased their storage space all at the same time.

1. The couple started by removing their existing dark-colored cabinets. 

Crossdale and Lopez immediately removed the kitchen cabinets and ordered new, white bottom-level cupboards from Lowe’s, which cost around $7,000. White cabinets were a great anchor for the space, as Crossdale admits she likes to “swap out colors quite a bit.” But she was thinking about how the new cupboards would make their lives easier, too. 

“I wanted to swap them out with an option that was functional and easy to clean,” Crossdale shares. “My husband and I also love to cook, and if anything drips or spills onto the cabinets, it’s so easy to wipe off.”

The couple knew the new additions were a splurge, but being self-described “super thrifty people,” they decided to install the cabinets themselves (which saved them $2,000!). Having the freedom to install on their own timeline allowed them to tackle other projects like replacing damaged drywall and updating the electrical wiring. 

Renovating the kitchen took around three months, but Crossdale says the cabinet installation took the longest time. “Measuring and making sure everything was level took a few days,” Crossdale writes. “It was important to get all the cabinets perfectly level for the countertop install to avoid the potential risk of the quartz cracking due to them being uneven.”

The couple hung open shelving above the countertops, which is Crossdale’s favorite element of the space. “It makes me so happy to look at,” Crossdale shares. “It’s where I add a bit of color to the room, where my go-to coffee mugs are, and all around, just makes the space feel brighter.”

While designing their kitchen sans upper-level cabinets, Crossdale and Lopez had to consider ways to maximize their cabinet space. 

2. They invested in clever storage solutions inside existing cabinetry. 

Believe it or not, Crossdale says they have more storage space now than when they had both upper- and lower-level cabinets — some cupboards are even empty! And it’s all because of their ingenious hacks. 

“We added two lazy Susan corner cabinets, and almost all the other cabinets have pull-out drawers on the inside,” Crossdale shares. “We do have an upper [cabinet] above the fridge, which leads into the biggest cabinet, our pantry. It holds all of our food, cups, and dishware that we use day-to-day.”

It’s hard to believe that, at one time, this kitchen was so dark and dreary. The DIY updates that Crossdale and Lopez made make the space feel vibrant, spacious, and functional. If you’re embarking on your own DIY projects, Crossdale shares some advice: “Prioritize your practical needs before aesthetics, especially if you spend a lot of time in your kitchen.” 

The kitchen updates aren’t the only incredible aspect of the couple’s Texas home. To see more about this stunning space, check out their full house tour on Apartment Therapy