5 Creative Alternatives to Kitchen Cabinetry

By Chris Gardner | Updated Jul 28, 2014 1:06 PM

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Don’t miss 11 Great Alternatives to Traditional Kitchen Cabinets

There are hundreds of companies who will gladly sell you stock kitchen cabinets and storage solutions, and there are master cabinetmakers who will offer a more customized approach to your specific needs. Perhaps there are even a few of you BobVila.com fans who are trying to build and install your own cabinets—and you should.

But don’t be fooled into thinking that the standard “uppers” and “lowers” is the only way to go. Sometimes, looking outside the realm of classic cabinets and drawers is just what a kitchen needs for a bit of extra character. With that in mind, here are a few creative alternative to kitchen cabinetry; all work just as well—if not better than—traditional units, and they can even save you money in the bargain.  Can’t beat that!



Birdseye Design

These steel, drawered workshop standards are built to last and house lots of heavy duty gear, which is exactly what you want from kitchen storage! Many tool chests slide under standard countertop height surfaces, making them a great solution for an island or extra prep station.



Kitchen Cabinetry


A secondhand dresser becomes the perfect wine rack and bar when its drawers are replaced by solid shelves and dividers. Brilliant!



Gillian/Apartment Therapy

Yes, lockers. Over at ApartmentTherapy.com, Gillian, in the midst of a DIY kitchen remodel, made the decision to only install lower cabinets. This left her a bit short on storage space, so she flush-mounted a set of six standard lockers in the wall, creating a unique and functional solution for storing pantry items.



Kitchen Cabinetry

Chris Gardner/Curbly

I needed a bit of extra rolling storage in my own kitchen, so I grabbed an old office filing cabinet from the thrift store, painted it up, and added a cutting board to the top, along with towel/utensil storage on the sides. I use it everyday. Get the full how-to project.



Kitchen Cabinetry

House Beautiful

It may take a bit of discipline to keep everything neat and organized, but open shelves are a great, and much less expensive, alternative to upper cabinets. This is a particularly appealing solution if you’ve got a small kitchen, as it keeps things on top light and airy, and your dishes and utensils serve double duty as decor!


For more on cabinets and kitchen storage, consider:

Bob Vila’s Guide to Kitchen Cabinets
The Basics of Installing Kitchen Cabinets
Painted Cabinets: 10 Reasons to Transform Yours Now