Face Your Kitchen
Your Guide to Kitchen Cabinet Refacing

Open door policy: tips for going door-free in your kitchen

by Karl Fendelander
Face Your Kitchen Columnist

There are a few advantages to open cabinetry. Sure, over a few years you might add a few minutes to your life because of the time you save not opening doors, but it goes beyond that. With open cabinetry, your kitchen can be made to look and feel bigger, lighter, more modern and open. It's a more affordable option than refacing because there are no doors and no door hardware--or at least not as many doors. And, while that probably isn't your biggest concern, it does improve access.

The big issues with going doorless? First, not everything looks good out in the open. Second: dust happens, and you'll have to deal with it. Probably the biggest potential issue is breakage. If you live in an area prone to earthquakes or curious toddlers, you may want to consider cabinet doors that can be locked. Once you've covered these bases, all you've got left are the minor design flaws that make or break your open-cabinet kitchen design. Here are some style tips to really make those open cabinets look great:

  • Don't be afraid to keep some things behind closed doors. As mentioned above, some things just look messy. Pantries, for example, start to look like ravaged grocery store aisles really quickly. Think about whether or not you want to reorganize the soups and cereals every time you have company, and consider leaving some doors in place.
  • Crown molding makes everything look classier. Decorative crown molding in the right places can make even the most generic particle-board boxes look custom. In extreme cases you might want to paint the cabinets and moldings, but even if you just stain them to match, crown molding can turn open shelving into a class act.
  • Decorative backing adds depth and flair. You have a few options for the back wall of your open cabinets. Cutting mirrors to fit looks great, and it adds depth and light to the room -- just watch out when you're bringing dishes in for a landing. Fabric-lined backing is an easy way to add flair and introduce a different texture. Cut foam board to the right size, cover it with fabric (spray glue works great for this) and pop your panels in place. You can even change these with the seasons! Painting the inside or just the backs of the cabinets is also a tried-and-true method. To spice things up, use bright, bold colors.

Open cabinets are also good places for recessed lighting. Whatever you choose to do, you may find that going doorless can bring a cabinet refacing well into your price range. Talk to your contractor today.

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