A New Look for My Kitchen–Open Cabinets

open shelves after_new a

Kitchen after removing cabinet doors. October 2010

Have you ever noticed how going on vacation makes you want to change something or start anew when you come home? Seems like I’ve been in a “change mode” ever since we came back from Seattle.

God has blessed me with a house perfect for our family so I don’t want to move, but I love to change the look of things– rather often. Couple that with my obsessive organizational tendencies and this is what happens.

I decided to take the doors off a few of my kitchen cabinets. Blame it on my blog-reading and magazine habit.

I’ve seen it on the internet and in food magazines.  When Pioneer Woman wrote about it,  I wondered how I could do it in my own kitchen.  Then I read a Q and A post on another blog called The Inspired Room and this post on  The Lettered Cottage. I decided to take the plunge.

before kitchen small

Kitchen before with doors on cabinets

Before kitchen 3 small

Kitchen before with doors on cabinets circa 2007

Yes, I took the doors off two of the upper cabinets in my kitchen…
and I’m not putting them back on, at least not for awhile.

After painting the inside of the cabinets red to match the existing red on the outside, I  chose only the dishes that were white, red or otherwise fit my color scheme.  Everything had to be something I use daily or weekly so they don’t have time to gather dust or a greasy film.

To make the whole look more intentional and cover the holes where the doors were attached, I  framed the openings with molding.  I used small finishing nails so I can easily rip the molding off when it’s time to reinstall the doors.

I know it’s not for everybody, maybe only a few but….I absolutely love it because:

  • I can instantly see what I need and reach it more easily. Dishes tend to get crowded and confused behind closed doors.
  • Guests know right where to find a plate or glass.  Easier for people who might help you clean out the dishwasher too.
  • I am forced to keep the shelves neat.
  • I think it makes my kitchen look a little more inviting-like something is going on.
  • Easier not to have to open and close the doors especially when cooking a lot.
open shelves after_close up w labels small

Every item must earn its place daily or weekly.

baking basket

Basket contains baking essentials-easy to grab.

Now that my family and a few friends have seen it, I’ve noticed a distinct difference in reactions according to gender. Women are at first curious, then thoughtful, seemingly considering the possibilities.  Men are resistant. Initially, my husband  accused me of “going off the deep end” when he realized what I was doing. I told him to mind his own business while repeating over and over, “We can always put the doors back on.”  He says he keeps noticing the open shelves out of the corner of his eye and finds himself thinking, “I need to go shut the cabinet doors.”

I’m confident he’ll get use to it. Last night he actually admitted it’s starting to grow on him.  He’s already doing better cleaning out the dishwasher.

While we’re talking about organizing, here’s a few more pictures of little things I’ve done in my kitchen to make life easier.  No big deal but maybe one of them will give you an idea.

spice drawer small

Spice jars in a drawer instead of the lazy susan in a cabinet which was always a mess!

plastic wrap drawer small

Costco-size box of plastic wrap: Easy-to-use without removing from drawer

cutting board small

Small cutting board hanging next to sink for quick access

small paper towel holder

Paper towels off the counter but convenient to grab with wet hands

P.S. Don’t worry. The red cabinet doors are safely tucked away in a closet waiting for the next time I’m struck with the need for change. My husband is taking bets on how long before they go back up. What do you think?

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{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

indah May 28, 2015 at 11:25 pm

your kitchen look gorgeous, love it, and the new look even better, i think i’m gonna do that to my kitchen. thanks 4 the inspiration


Paula May 30, 2015 at 10:39 am

Thanks Indah. Hope yours turns out perfect.


BB May 20, 2014 at 3:43 pm

I am thinking of doing this to my cabinets on one side of the sink. I love the look of open on top. Yours look so good!!!


patti January 6, 2011 at 2:08 am

you have my dream kitchen… red and black… beautiful


Gina December 27, 2010 at 8:44 am

I live in a small, colorful caribbean home and the cabinets are all open shelves. So I am used to it. I feel it looks inviting to guests. We are in the process of moving and the kitchen there has new closed cabinets. I was imagining opening a few of them up and replacing the shelves with natural wood for a wonderful contrast against the dark plum color. I am also going to replace the bar top with the same color wood. so when I searched for ideas, I came upon your site..Lovely. I am not afraid of color, changes and especially not open cabinets…so we are of the same mind. Enjoy your changes.


Paula December 28, 2010 at 6:40 pm

Gina, O-h-h-h, a dark plum color sounds fabulous.

I’m not sure I’ve ever though about it but I think you are right about the open shelves being more inviting. It certainly looks like things are happening in my kitchen.

Good luck with your remodel. And thanks for stopping by my blog. Warmly, paula


Katrina October 9, 2010 at 9:05 pm

I love the look. That would never work here. 😉


Paula October 10, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Katrina, I think your boys would love it. Wouldn’t have to close those pesky cabinet doors anymore.


Karen October 9, 2010 at 6:48 pm

This is beautiful. In our previous two homes, we took cabinet doors off and/or replaced the center panel with glass. I loved the look. I’ve been waiting to paint our cabinets in this house to do the same. I love it for all the reasons you listed. And, since we moved here, I’ve kept my spices in a drawer, too! It makes it so much easier to find what I need.

It’s so fun seeing your kitchen, the place where you create all that yummy food!


Paula October 10, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Thanks for the confirmation Karen. I am enjoying them immensely.


mike October 9, 2010 at 10:24 am

Paula – that’s just genius! What a wonderful way to open up space! But do you know my favorite? That StretchTite! I almost thought that you stole a photo of MY drawer. I love that stuff and use it the same way! Love how you’ve displayed vintage bakeware behind dishes etc. stunning!!!


Elizabeth- Cake or Death? October 9, 2010 at 12:12 am

Wow—that looks amazing! I’m in the LOVE category, and I’ll bet your husband moves on over to this category too, with time.


Jeannette October 8, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Pssst… I left you a little award on my blog 😉 Go check it out for details!


steph (whisk/spoon) October 8, 2010 at 1:54 pm

the open cabinets look great! and you are very tidy 🙂


peggy October 6, 2010 at 9:28 am

That is one beautiful kitchen. I would feel right at home there. I re-did my kitchen a couple of years ago and it was just such a good feeling. Love your open cabinets.


Becca October 5, 2010 at 6:50 pm

That looks very cool! I wonder if I can talk my husband into taking the doors off of a couple of my cabinets. Becca 🙂


Paula October 6, 2010 at 8:21 pm

You can always put the doors back on. 🙂


Jeannette October 5, 2010 at 12:20 pm

I think once me and the fiance get our own house, I’ll have to try this. Or at least get glass cabinet doors because it looks beautiful!

And I LOVE your spice drawer idea! No more reaching above the dang stove on my tippy-toes trying to find the right spices. And I certainly need to get that giant box of cling wrap! What a time saver!


Jenny October 4, 2010 at 8:54 pm

What a cozy kitchen and house! The open cabinets give it a retro-feel. Great taste!


Paula October 4, 2010 at 9:29 pm

Hadn’t thought about it like that Jenny but I was able to display a few of my retro pieces, like the old sifter and muffin tin which I really enjoy.


Layla October 4, 2010 at 8:45 am

(But you knew I’d say that, didn’t you?)



Paula October 4, 2010 at 9:43 am

Layla, I’m thrilled you dropped by. After I showed my husband your video and the pictures, he seemed much more open to the idea. I think he was impressed with the difference between the before and after pics of your kitchen. Also thanks for the idea about the molding.


Der October 4, 2010 at 8:30 am

I am mainly full of jealousy that you are organized and clean enough to pull this off:+)
Seriously, I am torn…. I keep going back and forth between your before photo and your after photo. They are both beautiful!!


Paula October 4, 2010 at 9:28 pm

Honestly Der, I like both looks. Believe me,these cabinets did not look like this behind closed doors. I got rid of quite a few things I rarely used. Don’t think I’ll miss them.


Suzanne October 4, 2010 at 8:09 am

looks great, I am the opposite of organized so this would be a crazy idea for me but I like how it looks!


Donna October 4, 2010 at 5:30 am

Hi, your kitchen looks GORGEOUS!!! I’m not sure how I found you (from which blog) but I ‘m so glad I did. Isn’t it the best, it’s just so freeing! I also took mine down and love it. I’m still deciding what kind of trim to use and I like your choice. At first I was going to go with something a little chunkier but seeing yours now I’m still undecided. UGH the decisions. So glad I’ve found a kindred spirit. On my way back to check out your older posts! Great job Donna


Paula October 4, 2010 at 9:26 pm

Yes, Donna, I agree it is freeing. Loving them so far. How long have you had yours that way?


Cindi October 4, 2010 at 1:29 am

I really like it! I works great in your kitchen. The red cabinets are great, too!


Christina Lee October 3, 2010 at 9:39 pm

I like it! I still love your kitchen—and well, your whole house for that matter! I love the painted cabinets! 🙂


Joni Webb October 3, 2010 at 9:35 pm

wow – i love this! i want to do this so badly – it really makes a beautiful difference. Congrats!!!


Debbie October 3, 2010 at 9:04 pm

Looks great- as usual! However, I would be shocked if you did not produce anything that was not super. It looked great before but the trim does add a finishing touch. I need another drawer for the spices but a great idea. I have one of those lazy susans that you cannot find anything on. Very impressive!


Birgit October 3, 2010 at 10:13 pm

Debbie, I have a lazy susan as well and have the spices organized in alphabetical order which works great for me. Not my idea, something I got from Flylady some time ago.


Susie October 3, 2010 at 8:04 pm

looks nice, in the pictures & in person!


Muriel Holt October 3, 2010 at 5:06 pm

Lookin’ good, Paula. When God created me, he left out the organizational gene from my body and gave it to you!!


Jeannie October 3, 2010 at 3:59 pm

I think it looks really nice, but my kitchen isn’t cute like yours and I don’t think it would work for me:(


Paula October 3, 2010 at 8:47 pm

Thanks Jeannie. You’re right. It’s not for everybody but I had to try it. So far, so good.


Amanda October 3, 2010 at 3:36 pm

I love that you posted this. I was just beginning to wonder how it was looking. I am guessing the red dishes didn’t show up? I also like how you framed out the cabinets, it does make them look more “finished”. Great post!


Paula October 3, 2010 at 3:39 pm

Amanda, a few of the red dishes are propped up in the back which means you only seen the white interior. That way, when stuff is in the dishwasher, the cupboard isn’t totally bare. The other red stuff didn’t earn their spot–in other words, not used daily or even weekly.


TwoAggieMom October 3, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Well, I have been thinking of a remodel at my house and I can assure you that your idea is much cheaper than what I had in mind which makes me think I need to give this a try first before taking the bigger plunge. What I find most interesting is the spice drawer idea. I can never find what I am looking for when it comes to spices!! I’ll have to see about implementing that pronto! Oh, and by the way…if you have the hubby thinking he needs to go close that cabinet door that isn’t there any longer…you got him trained well so you better keep him! 🙂


Paula October 3, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Yep, Billy is a keeper. I’m just thankful he let’s me do this kind of stuff without too much resistance.

About that spice drawer… Why didn’t I think of that years ago? I thought I didn’t have the drawer space but I did when I cleaned out some junk.


Kayte October 3, 2010 at 9:31 am

I love it all! Very fun taking the tour and seeing where you stash everything, too. Such a cheerful, pretty kitchen!


Paula October 3, 2010 at 3:42 pm

Thanks Kayte. Starting to get cold in your neck of the woods?


Kalynskitchen October 3, 2010 at 8:47 am

I have some open shelves in my own kitchen that used to be for cookbooks, but now that I have an office with a whole wall of shelves for cookbooks I’m loving those open shelves for dishes. Love your red cabinets with the open look!


Paula October 3, 2010 at 3:43 pm

Thanks for the confirmation. Most of my friends are skeptical. We’ll see.


TheKitchenWitch October 3, 2010 at 8:22 am

You are brave! I shudder to think how fast my shelves would return to messy disarray…for everyone to witness! But I love the look of your open shelves, and applaud your organizational skills!


Paula October 3, 2010 at 3:44 pm

That’s the thing. Things seem to go crazy when it’s too easy to close the door on the whole mess.


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