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Deciding between open shelving, upper cabinets and more

When designing a new kitchen there is often much discussion around whether to opt for upper cabinets, open shelving or to keeping the walls clear. As with most things there are pros and cons to each; we hope this guide will help you choose the best option for you and your home. 

The Grosmont Project


Offering a vast amount of additional storage in a concealed and streamlined way – as let’s face it, not all our kitchen necessities are aesthetically pleasing – from mismatched crockery sets to unruly Tupperware! If this sounds familiar and there’s not enough floor cabinet space to house these odds and ends, concealed wall cabinets may be the best option for you. Not only do they offer a great deal of storage, but they also enable you to focus on purely the function and usability of items, without the cosmetic and shelf styling consideration that comes with open shelving. 

Upper cabinets can reduce both light and the feeling of space within a kitchen, particularly if a dark colour is chosen in a smaller kitchen. Furthermore, they can often be a more expensive solution compared with shelving, particularly if they extend to the full height of the ceiling.

The Wiltshire Project

Open Shelving


Open shelving has become an ever-growing popular trend in recent years, providing storage for much-loved items and creating a personal feel to the space. Open shelves are a more flexible solution than cabinets, you can have as many or as few as you like depending on how much storage you need and the size of the items you would like to store. Furthermore, open shelving allows more light into the room, therefore it may be worth considering if you are planning on adding storage next to a window.

If you don’t have the time or desire to organise your shelves into aesthetically pleasing displays it could end up being a cluttered space that gives you a headache. There is also the additional maintenance involved with cleaning open shelves and displayed items. 

We encourage our clients to consider displaying items that they will use often and therefore won’t have time to gather dust.


Castle House Project

Glass Cabinets


Offering great storage space for items that you would love to show off without the maintenance of dusting and cleaning that comes with open shelving. Glass cabinetry can also be fitted with lighting to create a great focal feature within the kitchen. There are many glazed finishes available, from clear, to frosted, panelled, or fluted they can really enable you to enhance the overall design.

As with cabinetry this can be a more costly option, particularly when installed at full ceiling height with lighting. Similarly, if positioned too close to a window, they can reduce valuable light in the room and therefore make the space feel more enclosed.

Oldfield House Project

No Upper Cabinets

If you can make good use of floor cabinet storage then you may feel that you can remove wall cabinets and shelving, resulting in a much lighter and more minimalist space. 

This doesn’t mean the space will be bare, you can create unique personality with wall-art, tiling, lighting, or you may like the clear space and the bright open space this creates.

The main drawback is of course storage (or lack of). You may find that if you are incorporating an island into your scheme that this will be home to what was residing in the upper cabinets. Or you may have an additional pantry (this could be existing or part of your new concept) that will provide the space needed to eliminate clutter.

Take inventory of your items and decide whether there is anything you can part ways with. Once you have returned everything to its place consider whether you could live comfortably with the proposed number of floor cabinets on your plan in relation to the full cupboards in your existing kitchen. If it feels a little tight for space, you may wish to consider some of the afore mentioned options to allow for a little wiggle room.

If you would like to discover how Stephen Graver can transform your space, contact our team today: 01380 871746 or


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