Freestanding Cabinets Offer a Classic Kitchen Look

Freestanding cabinets have been a staple of kitchen design for decades, offering a timeless, classic look that never goes out of style. Here’s an in-depth look at everything you need to know about freestanding cabinets and how they can bring a touch of elegance to your kitchen.

An Overview of Freestanding Cabinets

Freestanding cabinets are standalone cabinet units that are not connected to walls or other cabinets. They typically have finished sides and backs, allowing them to be placed anywhere in a kitchen design. Freestanding cabinets come in a range of sizes, from narrow pantry cabinets to large island cabinets.

The main benefits of freestanding cabinets include:

  • Design flexibility – They can be arranged in various configurations and moved if needed. This allows you to redesign your space over time.
  • Mobility – Having cabinets unattached to the walls makes them easy to move when cleaning or rearranging the kitchen.
  • Classic style – With their finished sides and stately presence, freestanding cabinets have an elegant, furniture-like look.
  • Efficient use of space – Freestanding cabinets maximize storage and counter space since they don’t rely on walls for support.

The History Behind Freestanding Cabinets

Freestanding cabinets have been used in kitchen designs since the early 20th century. Their popularity rose in the 1940s and 1950s as suburban homes were built with open concept kitchens that lent themselves well to freestanding cabinetry.

Prior to this time, most cabinetry was attached directly to kitchen walls. But with open floor plans, the need arose for storage solutions that could stand independently. Freestanding cabinets answered this need while also providing a handsome furniture look in kitchens.

Brands like Hoosier and Sellers specialized in finely crafted freestanding cabinets including pantries, hutch cabinets, and expansive work islands. This gave birth to the popular farmhouse style kitchen that incorporated sturdy wooden cabinets along with butcher block countertops and apron sinks.

In the 1960s and 70s, freestanding cabinets evolved with the times, taking on a more modern, streamlined look. But while styles changed, the functional appeal of freestanding cabinetry remained constant in kitchen design. Today, freestanding cabinets are as popular as ever for their timeless beauty and versatility.

Pros and Cons of Freestanding Cabinets

Freestanding cabinets have many benefits but also come with some downsides to consider:


  • Give a classic, nostalgic look to a kitchen
  • Easy to reconfigure or move around
  • Allow for efficient kitchen layouts
  • Provide a furniture-like presence
  • Offer design flexibility for remodeling


  • More expensive than wall-mounted cabinets
  • Require careful installation for stability
  • Can make a kitchen feel disjointed if not cohesively designed
  • Limitation on weight capacity compared to wall cabinets
  • Require periodic checks to ensure they are level

Overall, the pros often outweigh the cons for homeowners seeking a vintage-inspired kitchen with flexibility for future changes. But it’s important to carefully assess your space and needs.

Design Styles for Freestanding Cabinets

One of the great advantages of freestanding cabinets is their versatility when it comes to design styles. Here are some of the most popular looks:

Farmhouse Style

Freestanding cabinets with a farmhouse style have a nostalgic, vintage feel. Key features include:

  • Wood cabinet boxes with a natural stain or painted finish
  • Thick, chunky frames
  • Visible hardware like brass knobs and hinges
  • Butcher block or marble countertops

This style works perfectly in rustic, country, or traditional kitchens.

Modern Style

For a more contemporary look, opt for streamlined freestanding cabinets with:

  • Sleek cabinet boxes with thermofoil or laminate exteriors
  • Hidden hinges and handles giving a minimalist look
  • Bold colors like navy blue, black, or white
  • Quartz or concrete countertops

The clean lines of modern freestanding cabinets complement new construction and loft spaces.

Transitional Style

Transitional kitchens bridge traditional and contemporary with freestanding cabinets that incorporate elements of each:

  • Wood cabinet boxes with painted exteriors in grey, navy or white
  • Polished nickel hardware and handles
  • Straightforward frame styles
  • Quartz counters with simple marble backsplashes

This adaptable look blends nicely in homes with varied design aesthetics.

Configurations for Freestanding Cabinets

Since they can be arranged in many different layouts, freestanding cabinets offer flexibility when planning your kitchen design. Consider these typical configurations:

Work Island

A work island is essentially an oversized freestanding cabinet, offering tons of counter space and storage.Opt for open shelves on one side for easy access to kitchen tools while closed cabinet fronts maintain a streamlined look.

Row of Base Cabinets

Lining up a row of matching base cabinets creates a unified kitchen look. Flank each end with a tall pantry cabinet for visual interest.

Mix and Match

For a eclectic style, use freestanding cabinets of different shapes and sizes together. A taller hutch cabinet next to a narrow pantry, for example. Make sure to repeat design elements like cabinet finish and hardware to maintain cohesion.

L-Shaped Arrangement

Positioning freestanding base cabinets in an L-shape is a great option for small kitchens. It allows you to maximize every inch of space efficiently.

Integrating Appliances with Freestanding Cabinets

Since freestanding cabinets aren’t fixed to walls, integrating kitchen appliances requires strategic planning. Here are some excellent options:

Refrigerator Cabinet

For a built-in look, integrate a refrigerator within a freestanding cabinet. Select a special model with ventilation to accommodate this.

Dishwasher Drawers

Rather than an under-counter dishwasher, opt for dishwasher drawers installed in a base cabinet. This allows you to have the appliance wherever it fits best.

Microwave Shelves

Incorporate narrow freestanding cabinets with shelves sized specifically for microwaves. This looks more cohesive than awkward wall mounting.

Range Hood Cabinets

Install powerful range hoods within customized floor-to-ceiling freestanding cabinets rather than venting through the ceiling.

Extra Storage Solutions for Freestanding Cabinets

Since freestanding cabinets occupy floor space, you need to incorporate smart storage solutions:

  • Pull-out shelves – Use pull-out shelves or drawers in base cabinets to efficiently access items in the back.
  • Turntables – Lazy susans or turntables allow easy access to corner cabinet contents.
  • Interior organizers – Take full advantage of interior space with cutlery dividers, spice organizers, etc.
  • Tall pantry cabinets – Maximize vertical storage with tall and deep pantry cabinets.
  • Glass door cabinets – Glass doors on wall or base cabinets showcase dishes and cookware while keeping dust out.

Best Practices for Installing Freestanding Cabinets

Proper installation ensures your freestanding cabinets are stable, level, and built to last for years. Recommendations include:

  • Select high-quality cabinets constructed with 3⁄4” plywood boxes, full-extension glides, and solid wood frames. Stay away from particle board or plastic builds which won’t withstand weight.
  • Carefully measure the complete kitchen space and design a floorplan indicating precise cabinet placements before installing.
  • For base cabinets, fasten adjacent cabinets together through the sides of their frames using screws. Join them into sections before anchoring to the floor for stability.
  • For tall cabinets, securely attach wall cleats into wall studs. Attach cabinets to the cleats.
  • Use shims under cabinets to level them during the installation process.
  • Place anti-tip brackets on tall, top-heavy objects like hutch cabinets as a safety precaution.

Freestanding Cabinet Ideas to Inspire Your Kitchen

Freestanding cabinets look stylish in virtually any kitchen aesthetic from modern to farmhouse. Here are some inspiring ideas:

  • A sleek white apron-front sink base cabinet as a focal point in a contemporary kitchen.
  • A rustic pine hutch cabinet packed with colorful crockery for a cottage feel.
  • A spacious work island with a marble countertop as a hub for entertaining.
  • An espresso-stained coffee station cabinet with pull-out shelves to corral the coffee maker.
  • A weathered oak pantry cabinet with wire mesh doors showcasing rustic pottery.
  • His and hers matching base cabinets on either side of a range topped with marble.

With limitless options for style, layout, and storage, freestanding cabinets are a versatile choice for achieving your dream kitchen. Allowing you to mix, match, and move cabinets as needed, they provide an ageless, furniture-like look that adapts through the years.

Frequently Asked Questions about Freestanding Cabinets

What are the main differences between freestanding and wall cabinets?

Wall cabinets are mounted directly to the wall, while freestanding cabinets stand on their own. Freestanding cabinets are accessible from all sides and can be moved, but weight capacity is limited compared to wall mounts.

How much weight can a typical freestanding cabinet hold?

Basic freestanding cabinets can support 50-75 lbs on their countertops. High-quality plywood cabinets with extra reinforcements and features like roll-out trays can hold up to 125 lbs.

How do you determine the best placement for freestanding cabinets?

Assess the workflow of your kitchen while taking exact measurements. Mark potential cabinet locations on your floorplan, ensuring adequate room is allowed for opening doors and drawers fully and walking paths between cabinets.

Should you attach freestanding cabinets to each other or the floor?

For stability, it is advisable to join freestanding base cabinets by screwing their sides together. Anchoring them as a unit to the floor using L-brackets provides even more security.

How do you install upper cabinets with a freestanding kitchen design?

While base cabinets are freestanding, upper cabinets typically need to be wall mounted. Use cleats secured into wall studs for cabinets to hang on for support while keeping the look of furniture below.


With their vintage styling and flexibility, freestanding cabinets are a timeless choice for achieving a functional kitchen with character. Allowing you the freedom to renovate and reconfigure your space over time, freestanding cabinetry adds unmatched style and visual interest compared to ordinary wall-mounted cabinets. Just be sure to follow professional design principles and installation best practices to get the most out of this classic kitchen look. Your freestanding cabinets will serve your family beautifully for many years to come.