Houzz kitchen trend: Can you live without kitchen wall units?

By KentOnline reporter

Full article first published on Houzz

Amanda Pollard, Houzz Contributor

It’s long been a standard choice when designing a kitchen to include wall cupboards as well as base units. However, many designers and homeowners have been thinking differently lately, creating cookspaces with no upper units at all.

Take a look at these beautiful kitchens to see how well such schemes can work, and to help you decide if it’s the right choice for your space.

Photo by Born & Bred Studio
Photo by Born & Bred Studio

Make space

This U-shaped kitchen has a simple, uncluttered style, with metro tiles lining the walls right up to the ceiling. The lack of wall units helps to keep that streamlined look, and prevents the space feeling too enclosed.

The designers have gone for kitchen shelves instead of cabinets as an alternative storage solution. A steel shelf, which matches the oven and extractor, provides an extra area for decorative items, and the base units and tall cabinet offer plenty more spots to stash kitchenalia.

Find kitchen designers in your area that can help you achieve this look

Photo by Imperfect Interiors
Photo by Imperfect Interiors

The key to storage success here, however, is that the space is linked to the dining room (this is the same room looking the other way), where two built-in dressers add an extra place for tableware, cookery books and other essentials.

If you’re struggling to do without wall units in your own home, but like the look, think about other places you can store items. Prioritise those tools you use frequently and make space for them in the kitchen, while putting items used less frequently elsewhere.

Photo by Imperfect Interiors
Photo by Imperfect Interiors

Raise your game

To make the most of the feeling of space that having no wall units gives you, think about where to position any shelving you might add. In this kitchen, they’ve chosen kitchen shelves instead of cabinets again, but the shelf has been installed close to the ceiling and in line with the hidden extractor fan above the hob. By leaving the space clear above the worktops, the kitchen feels more airy and uncluttered.

There’s plenty of storage in this kitchen, with cupboards along the wall and in the island, as well as tall cabinets with integrated appliances at the side. The designers have chosen to use the width of the room in order to leave the wall clear of units.

Photo by The Vawdrey House
Photo by The Vawdrey House

Go dark and dramatic up high…

If you’re using a strong colour on your walls, it pays to show it off without the distraction of cabinets. Here, the inky black walls look stunning against the white base units, and the black shelves are ideal for displaying more bright white items to contrast with the dark walls.

Photo by Lukonic
Photo by Lukonic

…or down low

Similarly, dark units contrast beautifully with white walls. In fact, there isn’t much space for wall units in this kitchen anyway, but even if there was, a row of dark cabinets above the worktops would have distracted from the striking look of the room. The clear expanse of metro tiles gives this kitchen a cool, dramatic feel.

Photo by Plus Rooms
Photo by Plus Rooms

Get creative

By avoiding wall units, you can give yourself the opportunity to introduce different storage ideas. The owners of this kitchen have added personality to their space with some kitchen cabinet alternatives made from distressed wood and copper piping.

The upcycled items add much more interest and character to the room than standard cupboards.

Photo by Jack Trench Bespoke Kitchens & Furniture
Photo by Jack Trench Bespoke Kitchens & Furniture

Showcase other elements

The walnut veneer on these kitchen cabinets is a striking feature in the room. In order to appreciate its beautiful grain, the rest of the space needed to be kept simple.

A wall of soft marble with two simple rows of shelving is perfect for complementing the base units without fighting with them. By taking the shelves along the whole length of worktops, the designers have provided plenty of extra storage space for the owners to put cookware, glassware and ornaments.

Discover bare wood kitchens to covet

Photo by deVOL Kitchens
Photo by deVOL Kitchens

Keep it fresh and airy

The fresh colour scheme of this kitchen gives the room a light feel, the white walls and worktop toning with the cream units to create a wonderfully bright space. Wall units would have looked fine here, but by leaving the area clear, the designer has lifted the space even more. It feels elegant, uncluttered and airy.

See more cream kitchens on Houzz

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