20 Alternatives to Upper Kitchen Cabinets: Enhance Style & Functionality

Last updated on June 1, 2024

Explore these innovative alternatives to upper kitchen cabinets. Transform your cooking space into a stylish and functional haven.

One of the most important elements in any kitchen are the cabinets. Specifically, upper kitchen cabinets.

While they are undoubtedly useful for storage, sometimes they can feel a bit bulky and overwhelming in a space. Plus, let’s be honest – they can be pretty expensive too! So what do you do if you want to create a beautiful kitchen without breaking the bank or sacrificing style?

Fear not, because I’ve got you covered with 20 alternative ideas for upper kitchen cabinets that will have your space looking stunning and unique in no time.

From open shelving to hanging pots and pans, there’s something here for everyone. So grab a cup of coffee (or tea!) and let’s get started on transforming your kitchen into the envy of all your friends and family!

Open Shelves

kitchen upper cabinet open shelf

Open shelves are a popular alternative to upper kitchen cabinets. They provide an airy and open feel to the kitchen while also allowing for easy access to frequently used items.

Open shelves can be made from a variety of materials such as wood, metal, or glass and can be installed in various ways including floating or bracketed. When styling open shelves, it’s important to keep them organized and visually appealing by using matching containers or grouping similar items together.

However, it’s essential not to overcrowd the space as this will detract from their aesthetic appeal. Open shelving is perfect for those who want an affordable way of updating their kitchen without sacrificing functionality or style!

Floating Shelves

floating shelf in kitchen

These shelves are attached directly to the wall without any visible brackets or supports, giving them a sleek and modern look. They can be made from a variety of materials such as wood, metal, or glass and come in different sizes and shapes.

Floating shelves are perfect for displaying decorative items like plants, vases, or artwork while also providing storage space for everyday items like dishes and glasses. They can be installed at any height depending on your preference but make sure they’re within reach so you don’t have to climb up every time you need something.

To install floating shelves properly, it’s important to find studs in the wall where you want them placed since they will hold weight over time. You’ll also need special hardware designed specifically for this type of shelving that won’t damage your walls during installation.


Pegboard Wall kitchen pantry

They can be easily installed on any wall, and their perforated design allows for endless customization options. Pegboards come in various sizes, colors, and materials such as metal or wood.

To use pegboards in your kitchen decor, you can hang pots and pans from hooks or store utensils in containers attached to the board. You could also add shelves onto the pegboard for additional storage space.

One of the benefits of using a pegboard is that it keeps everything within reach while freeing up counter space. Plus, it adds an industrial-chic vibe to your kitchen decor that’s both functional and stylish.

Plate Racks

plate racks for cabinets

They come in various styles and sizes, from simple wooden shelves to elaborate wrought iron designs. You can install them on the wall or place them on your countertop for easy access.

Plate racks not only add visual interest but also provide practical storage solutions. They keep your plates organized and within reach while freeing up cabinet space for other items.

Plus, they make it easier to grab the right plate when setting the table or serving food.

When choosing a plate rack, consider its size and capacity based on how many dishes you want to display. Also, think about its style and material that will complement your kitchen decor theme seamlessly.

Magnetic Knife Strips

Magnetic Knife Strips

These strips can be easily mounted on the wall, saving valuable counter space while keeping your knives within reach. They come in various sizes and styles to fit any kitchen decor.

Magnetic knife strips not only provide easy access to your knives but also keep them organized and visible, making it easier for you to find the right one quickly when needed. Plus, they add a modern touch that enhances the overall look of your kitchen without breaking the bank!

Pot Rails/hooks

Hanging Pot Racks

These rails or hooks can be installed on the wall above the stove or kitchen island, providing easy access to your cooking utensils while freeing up cabinet space. Pot rails come in various styles and materials such as stainless steel, copper, or wood.

They can also be customized according to your needs by adding extra hooks or shelves for additional storage options. Installing pot racks is relatively easy with just a few screws required; however, it’s essential to ensure that they’re securely fastened onto the wall before hanging any heavy items on them.

Hanging Baskets

hanging baskets kitchen

They can be hung from the ceiling or mounted on the wall and used to store fruits, vegetables, and other kitchen essentials. Hanging baskets come in different sizes and materials such as wire mesh or wicker.

You can also use them for decorative purposes by adding plants or flowers that complement your kitchen decor. To create a cohesive look, choose hanging baskets that match your existing color scheme or opt for neutral tones like white or black that will blend seamlessly with any style of decor.

When installing hanging baskets in your kitchen make sure they are securely fastened to avoid accidents caused by falling objects while cooking in the area below them!

Glass-front Cabinets

black cabinet glass

These types of cabinets come in various styles, including traditional and modern designs. They can be used to display your favorite dishes or glassware, which adds a decorative touch to the kitchen.

One advantage of glass-front cabinets is that they make it easy for you to find what you need without having to open every cabinet door. These types of cabinets can help create the illusion of more space in smaller kitchens by reflecting light and making the room feel brighter.

When choosing glass-fronted cabinetry for your kitchen, consider using frosted or textured glass if you want some privacy but still want some visibility into what’s inside. You could also opt for colored or stained-glass panels if you’re looking for something unique and eye-catching.

Corner Shelving Units

floating kitchen shelf

These shelves can be custom-built or purchased as pre-made units, and they come in a variety of materials such as wood, metal, and glass. They can be used to store dishes, glasses or even small appliances that you don’t use every day.

Corner shelving units also provide an opportunity for displaying decorative items like plants or artwork that add personality to your kitchen decor. When choosing corner shelves for your kitchen make sure they fit well into the corner without taking up too much space while still providing ample storage capacity for all of your needs.

Fold-up Cabinets

These cabinets can be mounted on the wall or under existing cabinetry, and they fold up when not in use. This is perfect for small kitchens where every inch of counter space counts.

Fold-up cabinets come in various sizes, so you can choose one that fits your needs perfectly. They are also available in different materials such as wood or metal, so you can match them with your existing decor style easily.

When folded down, these cabinets provide ample storage space for dishes and other kitchen essentials while keeping them out of sight when not needed – making it an excellent alternative to upper kitchen cabinets!

Wall-mounted Dish Rack

Wall-mounted Dish Rack

These racks can be easily installed on any wall in your kitchen and provide ample storage for dishes, glasses, and other utensils. They come in various sizes and designs to fit different needs and styles.

One of the benefits of using a wall-mounted dish rack is that it keeps your dishes within easy reach while also freeing up valuable counter space. This makes meal prep easier as you can quickly grab what you need without having to dig through cluttered cabinets or drawers.

Another advantage is that these racks allow your dishes to air dry naturally which helps prevent bacteria growth compared with stacking them inside closed cabinets where moisture tends to accumulate.

When choosing a wall-mounted dish rack, consider the size of your kitchen as well as the number of people living in your home. You want something that will accommodate all necessary items but not take up too much space or look overcrowded on the walls.

Ceiling-Hung Storage

This type of storage can be used for items that are not frequently used or for decorative purposes. You can hang baskets, pots and pans, or even plants from the ceiling using hooks and chains.

Ceiling-hung storage also adds visual interest to your kitchen by drawing the eye upward and creating a sense of height in the room. Just make sure that whatever you choose to hang from your ceiling is securely fastened so it doesn’t come crashing down!

Tension Rods

tension rods for kitchen

These adjustable rods can be installed between two walls or cabinets, providing a sturdy base to hang items such as dish towels, pot holders, and even small baskets. Tension rods can also be used to create dividers within larger cabinets or drawers, allowing you to organize your kitchen tools more efficiently.

They come in various sizes and finishes that will match any decor style while keeping everything organized without taking up valuable counter space. With tension rods’ flexibility and ease of installation, they’re an excellent alternative for upper kitchen cabinets that won’t break the bank!

Sliding Door Cupboards

inside cabinet lights

They offer the same storage space as traditional cabinets but with a sleek and modern look. Sliding doors can be made of glass, wood or metal and come in various styles that can match any kitchen decor.

One advantage of sliding door cupboards is that they don’t require much clearance space when opened, making them ideal for small kitchens where every inch counts. They also allow you to easily access your items without having to reach over other things on shelves.

Another benefit is that sliding doors keep dust away from your dishes and cookware, which means less cleaning time for you! Plus, if you have beautiful dishware or cookbooks that deserve to be displayed rather than hidden behind closed cabinet doors, then this option might just be perfect for you!

Mirror-backed Display Cases

Mirrored Surface kitchen cabinets

The mirror backing reflects light and creates an illusion of more space in the room. You can choose from various styles of display cases that fit your decor style – modern, rustic or vintage.

For instance, you could opt for a sleek metal frame with tempered glass shelves for a contemporary look or go for an ornate wooden cabinet with intricate carvings if you prefer traditional aesthetics.

When it comes to arranging items in the case itself, consider grouping similar pieces together by color or theme.

Freestanding Hutches

Hutch Cabinet

They provide ample storage space and can be used to display your favorite dishes, glasses, and other kitchen items. These pieces of furniture come in various styles and sizes, so you can choose one that fits your kitchen’s decor.

One advantage of freestanding hutches is that they are easy to move around if you decide to rearrange your kitchen layout. You can also use them as room dividers or place them in other areas of the house for additional storage.

When choosing a freestanding hutch for your kitchen, consider the size and style carefully. Make sure it complements the rest of your decor while providing enough storage space for all your needs.

Pull-out Spice Racks

Pull-out Spice Racks

They can be installed in lower cabinets or even in narrow spaces between appliances, making them perfect for small kitchens. These racks come with multiple shelves that slide out smoothly, allowing you to easily access your spices and herbs while cooking.

Pull-out spice racks also help keep your kitchen organized by freeing up counter space and reducing clutter on the walls. You can choose from different sizes and styles of pull-out spice racks depending on your needs and preferences, including ones that have adjustable shelves or built-in dividers for better organization of spices by type or size.

With a pull-out spice rack, you’ll never have to dig through a crowded cabinet again!

Built-in Wine Racks

Wine Pegs

It’s not only functional but also adds an elegant touch to the overall look of your kitchen. You can choose from various styles and sizes that fit perfectly in the space available.

One popular option is to install a wine rack above the countertop or on top of cabinets where it’s easily accessible. Another great idea is to build one under the island counter or inside custom cabinetry for added storage.

A built-in wine rack doesn’t have to be expensive either; there are many DIY options available online that use simple materials like wood pallets, PVC pipes, and wire mesh racks. With some creativity and basic tools, you can create a unique display for your favorite bottles without breaking the bank.

Kitchen Island Storage

Suspended Storage kitchen island

You can choose an island with built-in cabinets or drawers, or you can customize it to fit your needs. Some ideas for adding storage to a kitchen island include installing open shelves on the sides of the island, adding pull-out baskets or bins underneath, and incorporating wine racks into the design.

If you have a small kitchen, consider using a rolling cart as an alternative to a permanent island – this will give you added counter space and storage that can be easily moved around when needed.

Recessed Wall Niches

These built-in shelves can be created by cutting into the drywall and framing out the space with wood or metal studs. Recessed wall niches provide an opportunity to showcase decorative items such as vases, plants, or artwork while also providing functional storage for everyday kitchen essentials like spices, oils, and cookbooks.

One of the benefits of recessed wall niches is that they don’t take up any floor space in your kitchen. This makes them ideal for smaller kitchens where every inch counts.

You can customize their size according to your needs – from small nooks perfect for displaying a single item to larger spaces that offer ample storage.

When designing recessed wall niches in your kitchen, consider adding lighting inside each niche so that it illuminates its contents beautifully at night time or on cloudy days when natural light may not be sufficient enough. You could also paint the back of each niche with an accent color or wallpaper pattern to create visual interest.

Overall if you’re looking for a creative way to add both style and function without using traditional upper cabinets then consider incorporating recessed wall niches into your next renovation project!


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