Kitchens without wall cabinets – 7 reasons why interior designers are ditching cabinets this year

Kitchens without wall cabinets are becoming an increasingly popular design trend that more and more interior designers are embracing. Going cabinet-free offers a clean, minimalist look and can make kitchens feel more open and airy. Here are 7 key reasons why interior designers are ditching wall cabinets this year:

1. Creates a Minimalist Aesthetic

One of the biggest reasons designers are forgoing wall cabinets is to achieve a pared-down, minimalist aesthetic. Kitchen walls are often cluttered with shelves, cabinets, and other storage elements. Removing wall cabinets creates clean sightlines, opens up the space, and highlights other architectural details.

The minimalist look is desirable for modern and contemporary kitchen designs. Having fewer distractions on the walls puts the focus on materials, colors, and textures instead. It creates a soothing, decluttered environment.

Interior designer Jennifer Jones explains:

“Many clients today want a minimalist, uncluttered look. Getting rid of wall cabinets is an impactful way to simplify the kitchen and draw the eye to the overall design rather than busy cabinetry.”

2. Makes Rooms Feel Larger

In addition to minimalism, the other big kitchen design trend is the “open concept” style. Homeowners increasingly want kitchens that feel more expansive and blend seamlessly into living areas.

Wall cabinets have a tendency to box in kitchens. The large blocks of cabinetry hovering overhead can make kitchens feel closed off and cramped. Removing wall cabinets gives the illusion of higher ceilings. This makes even the coziest kitchens feel more spacious and airy.

Interior designer Vanessa Yang says:

“For small kitchens, getting rid of wall cabinets can really open up the space in a transformative way. It’s amazing what removing that one element can do for sightlines and the overall feeling of the room.”

3. Allows More Creative Storage Solutions

While losing wall cabinets means losing storage space, designers are getting creative with alternative storage options. The lack of wall cabinets provides an opportunity to incorporate storage in new, unique ways.

Some examples include:

  • Built-in shelving and display ledges
  • Use of furniture like sideboards and hutches
  • Under-cabinet rollouts and drawer organizers
  • Pantries and pull-out cabinets
  • freestanding furniture islands

Interior designer Megan Wright explains her storage strategy:

“I love designing cabinet-free kitchens because it challenges me to come up with storage solutions that fit my client’s needs while enhancing the overall design. For one client, we did a full-height pull-out pantry and for another, we designed a kitchen island on casters that concealed storage bins.”

4. Creates Display Space

While they offer storage space, wall cabinets also hide what’s inside them. Removing wall cabinets allows you to put beautiful dishes, glassware, and cooking tools on display.

Open shelving, glass-front cabinets, and glass-door wall cabinets have become popular choices. They allow homeowners to show off prized possessions and decorative items.

Displaying items creates a personalized look. It also enables easy access to frequently used cooking items.

As designer Alicia Davis explains:

“I’m always looking for ways to incorporate display in my designs. Taking down wall cabinets lets me add beautiful glass-front cabinets to show off collectibles. It really personalizes the space.”

5. Saves Costs

Surprisingly, losing the wall cabinets can ultimately save on kitchen renovation costs. Full-height wall cabinetry is expensive, often being the most costly element in a kitchen. Removing them shaves thousands off the bottom line.

Going without wall cabinets also saves on installation time and labor costs. With less cabinetry to install, the install process is streamlined.

Interior designer James Bennet notes:

“People are often shocked to learn how much they can save by skipping wall cabinets. That high-end, full-height cabinetry really bumps up costs. I’ve saved clients $3,000 to $5,000 on several projects.”

The cost savings allow clients to splurge on luxury materials for countertops and backsplashes or high-end appliances.

6. Allows Flexibility for Artwork

Cabinet-free walls allow for flexible display of artwork, decorative tiles, wallpapers, and other special finishes.

Without having to work around cabinets, designers have full freedom over the walls. Accent walls can extend from floor to ceiling. Prized art pieces can take center stage on an empty wall.

Interior designer Stephanie Liu says:

“I love having a giant, uninterrupted wall to play with in cooking zones. I’ll use graphic cement tiles or bold wallpaper on the entire wall. It really becomes a work of art.”

The removable wall provides a convenient spot to frequently rotate or update art pieces and wall decor over time.

7. Suits Some Design Styles

While the streamlined, minimalist look is the most obvious style suited for a cabinet-free kitchen, some other design styles work well too.

For urban lofts and industrial spaces, exposing pipes, conduit, and ductwork has an appealing utilitarian look. The sparseness draws out the room’s architectural elements.

In farmhouse and cottage kitchens, open shelves and standalone furniture keep to the casual vibe. Built-in hutches offer charming display space in shabby chic cottages.

Traditional kitchens display collections in glass-front cabinets for a timeless style. Ornate moldings and trims take the spotlight.

No matter your design style, removing wall cabinets allows you to highlight the room’s architecture, decorative details, and materials.

Common Concerns About Removing Wall Cabinets

While the pros of removing wall cabinets are compelling, it also raises some concerns for homeowners:

Lost Storage Space

As mentioned, alternative storage solutions can help offset the loss of wall cabinets. Careful planning and customization ensures you don’t sacrifice essential storage capacity.

Increased Cleaning Needs

More exposed surfaces mean more areas to keep clean. Open shelves will need frequent dusting. Make sure everyday items are easily reachable. Add doors to wall cabinets for items not constantly in use.

Higher Costs for Specialized Storage

Unique storage options like pull-out pantries cost more than standard cabinets. But as mentioned, the overall costs are often lower.

Difficulty Reaching Top Shelves

Eliminating wall cabinets can make it hard to access top shelves. Opt for cabinets with sliding shelves, rolling ladders, or ensure step stools are handy.

Final Thoughts on the Wall Cabinet Free Kitchen Trend

Removing wall cabinets is one of the biggest kitchen design trends, offering both aesthetic and functional benefits. The streamlined look and added spatial freedom is driving many interior designers to ditch the cabinets.

But is it right for you? Assess your kitchen’s size, storage needs, and style preferences. Meet with experienced kitchen designers to come up with creative solutions for your space and lifestyle.

While it’s a dramatic change, more homeowners are finding few drawbacks to joining the cabinet-free kitchen movement. Approach the design thoughtfully and you can gain all the advantages of open, uncluttered walls and a minimalist, modern space.

Frequently Asked Questions About Wall Cabinet Free Kitchens

What are the pros of removing kitchen wall cabinets?

Some key benefits of removing wall cabinets include:

  • Achieving a clean, minimalist look
  • Making rooms feel more open and spacious
  • Inspiring creative new storage solutions
  • Allowing you to display decorative items
  • Potentially saving on renovation costs
  • Providing flexibility for artwork and finishes

What are the cons of removing kitchen wall cabinets?

Potential downsides of removing wall cabinets include:

  • Losing storage space
  • Needing more frequent cleaning for open shelves
  • Paying more for specialty storage options
  • Difficulty reaching top shelves without a stool

How do you increase storage without wall cabinets?

Popular alternatives for storage without wall cabinets include:

  • Pantries, pull-out cabinets and blind corner cabinets
  • Built-in shelving, hutches, and sideboards
  • Islands with storage inside and rolling/stationary cabinets
  • Under cabinet rollouts and drawer organizers
  • Multi-purpose furniture like sideboards and china hutches

What kitchen styles work well without wall cabinets?

Minimalist and modern kitchens are suited for the cabinet-free look. But styles like industrial, shabby chic, farmhouse, and some traditional kitchens can work well too by incorporating furniture and display cabinets.

Should you remove cabinets if you have a small kitchen?

Removing wall cabinets can make a small kitchen feel bigger by opening up sightlines. Include alternative storage like a pantry, rollouts, and organizational drawers to avoid losing needed capacity. Careful planning is key for small spaces.


Kitchens without wall cabinets offer many benefits that make this an increasingly popular design choice. The streamlined, minimalist look provides a clean backdrop that makes rooms feel larger and more airy. Storage solutions like pantries and display cabinets prevent losing needed capacity. While a dramatic change, removing wall cabinets creates an open, modern kitchen perfect for a range of design styles. With smart planning and design, the pros of ditching the cabinets often outweigh any potential cons.