“We had friends over last night and I kept opening and closing the cabinet doors to get dishes or whatever. I found myself grumbling about it.”
My friend Christine, who’s longing to remodel her 70s kitchen, recently coined the term “anti-upperitis” to express her annoyance with upper kitchen cabinet storage and desire to have less behind closed doors. That can mean transforming existing cabinets by using only the boxes and upgrading interior spaces and frames. It can mean doing without upper cabinets at all to maximize features such as tile, plate racks and art. Or, it can be any number of solutions in between.
Since there’s nothing quite like kitchen cabinet-estimate-shock, rethinking uppers makes sense. In a classic white “Something’s Gotta Give”-style Long Island kitchen [top], a difficult corner space turns graceful when bead board is added to the back of the left-hand cabinet and an arched frame is applied on top. Careful study of this combo reveals that the cabinet “carcasses” (or boxes) are the same for the cabinets with, and without, the door.
In narrow New York City kitchens, where every inch counts, the upper cabinets are often proportionally taller than the standard 36-inch high base cabinets because ceilings can be 11- or 12-feet high. Leaving cabinets completely open provides a handy grid for organizing all the necessities and for mixing in decorative pieces as well. In England, the space directly over the sink would likely have been a plate rack with an open bottom that permits wet dishes to drip.
A pair of very tall, open upper cabinets occupy the walls between two kitchen windows in this 1920s Chicago apartment kitchen designed by Douglas Levine. While doors were used to create small soffit cabinets just below the ceiling, the balance of the boxes was left open. Note the handy vertical small-plate storage added on the bottom shelf on the right-hand side. The lightness of the kitchen “furniture” allows the David Hockney painting and imposing Urban Archaeology cargo pendant over the table dominate the room.
Trimming unpainted upper cabinet boxes with arch details provides “country hutch” charm for a very traditional kitchen which otherwise might be starting to look a bit dated.
The pair of cabinets in this kitchen are old and altered in a unique way: solid doors were replaced by screen doors — for a rustic variation on the open-cabinet theme.