Face Your Kitchen
Your Guide to Kitchen Cabinet Refacing

4 good reasons to nix kitchen cabinets without doors

by Shannon Lee
Face Your Kitchen Columnist

Kitchen cabinets are often a large chunk of the financial bottom line for a kitchen remodel. Replacing cabinets can be very expensive, so many homeowners opt for kitchen cabinet refacing instead. However, refacing can still pack a bit of sticker shock. Unique or custom door fronts can drive the cost up even higher.

To save on money and create a more unique kitchen, some homeowners opt for open kitchen shelving. The lack of cabinet doors can open up the space, allow a chance to showcase fine glassware and make items in the kitchen more accessible.

Reasons to walk away from kitchen cabinets without doors

Despite the good points of open shelving in the kitchen, there are many cons to giving up door fronts. Here are four good reasons why kitchen cabinets without doors can be a bad idea:

  1. Visual clutter. The typical family kitchen often has a hodge-podge of items for dinnertime, including mismatched mugs, the occasional chipped plate and more than a few trinkets accumulated over the years. In most kitchens, closing the cabinets immediately offers a sense of tidiness. Not so with open shelving, where every item can be seen--no matter how mismatched it might be.
  2. Cleaning challenges. Kitchens are notorious for grime, dust and greasy surfaces. Cabinet doors can protect your dishes and glassware from building up a sticky film. Since open shelves don't offer that protection, cleaning them can be much more difficult and time-consuming.
  3. Reduced options. With traditional cabinets, you can change the look of your kitchen within just a few days with cabinet refacing. But with open shelves, adding cabinets to change the look becomes more costly and labor-intensive. In some cases, the open shelves might not lend themselves well to adding frames and doors, which could require replacing the cabinet boxes--and that drives the cost up.
  4. Resale value. Though your open shelves might appeal to some potential homebuyers, some might prefer traditional kitchen cabinets that will allow them to make your old kitchen their new favorite room. Those pretty open shelves could mean your home spends a longer time on the market, hoping for a buyer.

Though there are several positive reasons to choose open shelves for your kitchen, there are just as many downsides. If you aren't planning on selling your home and have your heart set on open shelves, it makes for a good option--however, remember that visual clutter and regular cleaning might be the price you pay for cabinets without doors.

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