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Barely there open kitchen layouts

With open kitchen layouts, less is more

Why are white cabinets a popular current kitchen trend? My co-worker and I have a theory that people are drawn to white kitchens because they want a clean, light, open kitchen. The desire for white is a response to the chaos and clutter that life naturally brings to the day to day. While some of my favorite Meadowlark kitchens have featured white cabinets, a kitchen full of them is not the only way to achieve space that breathes and feels light, clean and open. In this season of spring cleaning, there are a few strategies for creating an airy kitchen. These include coupling windows with open shelves, totally removing upper cabinets and/or strategically placing raw materials. No upper cabinets?! But where will everything go? Removing wall cabinets is definitely a different mindset from the conventional kitchen design. A functional kitchen with less or no upper wall cabinets is feasible through efficiently designed base cabinets utilizing accessory storage or having a no-cabinet walk-in pantry. The beauty of no upper cabinets is that the visual vertical weight created by wall cabinets is removed. Another perk of no wall cabinets: the spaced freed up on the walls allows for more windows!

open kitchen layout

Breathe easy in this Meadowlark kitchen with high ceiling and windows, plus no upper cabinets


open kitchen, no upper cabinets

Limiting the wall cabinets creates space for larger windows.

Exposed Shelves In situations where the additional wall storage may be needed, like in a space-restricted kitchen, open shelves are an option for balancing storage with openness. Upper cabinets give a kitchen visual weight, whereas open shelves create a visually lighter space. Open, or exposed shelves, can vary in style to fit different personalities. If you like an industrial look, go with shelves supported by metal pipes.

exposed shelves, open kitchen

Meadowlark kitchen with floating shelves



Prefer clean lines and a modern aesthetic? Floating shelves with concealed structural supports are the minimalist’s dream! Floating shelves can be made of various materials, from painted or stained wood to solid surface materials like Corian or quartz. Another option is glass shelves. The transparent nature of glass embodies the visual idea of openness. When supported by a steel frame, glass shelves can have a contemporary industrial look, rather than the typical ‘80s look that’s often associated with glass shelves.

Raw Materials Raw or natural materials have an inherent simplicity. Whether incorporating natural materials in open shelves, in cabinetry material, or as countertops, natural materials make a statement without needing flashy accents. By strategically using natural materials, a kitchen can make a connection with the greater outdoors, which extends the room beyond its physical constraints and subconsciously makes a room feel larger.

Bamboo island countertop, open kitchen

Bamboo island contrasts with dark cabinetry


You will want to spend more time in a room that makes you feel comfortable. A balanced kitchen that allows for light and feels comfortably open may help you feel relaxed and ready to try new recipes. By reassessing conventions like upper wall cabinets, as well as taking advantage of a well-trained eye from a designer or architect, an open/airy kitchen can be a reality. Thinking about opening up your kitchen? Call Meadowlark – we’d love to help!

By Marsie Klug

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