Give up cabinets, keep the storage space

"To each thing belongs its measure. Occasion is best to know." Pindar (5th century B.C.), one of the nine poets of ancient Greece, "Odes," 5th C. B.C.

Q: My husband and I are downsizing as the last of our children has moved out. We discovered we don’t need the extra room now and want to concentrate on spaces for us, specifically the kitchen. We like the look of open wall space with no upper cabinets, however, we are both cooks and we collect wine. And we have all of the things that go with those two hobbies. We’re concerned about storage. Any suggestions?

A: Congratulations on reclaiming your house. It sounds like the time is right. The open wall space in kitchens is so popular now, and manufacturers are on it. By giving up upper cabinets, you would assume that you would lose storage space. But, alas, there are ways around it.

Now, granted, if you have an 8-foot-by-10-foot kitchen and take down the top cabinets, have no room for expansion, and can’t reconfigure your lower cabinets, you have just reduced your space by half. Don’t do that.

But, if you do have some flexibility, you have no worries. Undercounter appliances and storage systems save the day.

Your children are obviously grown and moving away, but one consideration for folks with younger children is that with undercounter appliances and systems, appropriate precautions should be taken to avoid little hands getting into unsafe conditions.

A lot of folks are even opting to do away with the traditional upright refrigerators, preferring to go under the counter with everything. In the cooling market, undercounter refrigerator drawers are just awesome looking and are very efficient. You can configure the drawers to match your needs — drawers for milk cartons and soda bottles, and special ones for fruits and veggies.

Undercounter ice makers are on the market, as well as all manner of wine storage systems, both refrigerated and those with open shelving for nonrefrigerated wines.

Manufacturers are also wise to style and décor, offering everything from country to sleek to modern hardware and finishes.

U-Line Corp. ( has introduced a new line of undercounter products for ice-making, refrigeration and wine preservation.

"Today’s appliances are designed to make living spaces more livable with convenience, style and technology," said Jennifer Uihlein Straszeski, president of U-Line Corp. "Design options are very important to today’s homeowner. With U-Line’s new flexible design options, homeowners can choose the model they want and modify the exterior look with a different handle or custom panel, creating an appliance tailored to their personal taste."

Specialty cabinet configurations also are available, and are designed for organizing and storing special items such as spices and cookware. One advantage of a drawer opposed to an upper cabinet is that when the drawer opens, you can see everything in it. How much time have we wasted prowling around in cabinets, moving everything around, to find what is, invariably, in the back of the cabinet?

In addition to the standard undercounter wine cooler, U-Line offers a Wine Captain Drawer. Each drawer is highly specialized, independently refrigerated with separate temperature controls that provide flexible storage options for wine collectors.

So, yes, you can find wonderful options for your new dream kitchen without a single upper cabinet. As always, do your research, both online and at kitchen stores. I know you will be very pleased with your options.


Carolyn Muse Grant is the editor of Southern Nevada Home & Garden magazine. Her Inside Spaces column appears weekly in the Home & Garden section of the Review-Journal. Check out other decorating tips in Southern Nevada Home & Garden magazine, which is published the first Saturday of each month. Send questions to

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