cabinet position

December 4th 2014 Comments: 24 Topics: , ,

I hereby declare my utter detestation of the overhead kitchen cabinet (cue the sound of throngs of gasping kitchen designers).
debc43fe27e3de45028db8f327ea8a0eNothing screams “suburban kitchen” like an unending line of squatty in-your-face cabinet doors. I know, I know, people always say “but where will I keep a glass?”. Trust me, there are much more attractive ways to solve this problem – and ones that pre-date the advent of the 1950s kitchen. Prior to the advent of “modern” kitchen design, crockery and serving pieces were always kept in hutches or china cabinets. Now, I’m not suggesting we break out the wagon wheel chandeliers and gingham curtains, but why can’t we take those storage concepts into a modern kitchen design?

This opens up the design opportunity to accomplish three things:

  1. By utilizing series of vertical elements, we can conceptually break up that horizontal ranch-house aesthetic that usually occurs in kitchen architecture.
  2. It allows your daily line of sight to be inhabited by much more beautiful things – like a view or artwork – something much more appealing than the dumb blank stare of a wooden door.
  3. It gives the kitchen a “furnished” appearance and thereby makes it feels less like a sterile laboratory environment.

I also suggest seriously editing our kitchens. The furnished kitchen was always a warm, beckoning environment. It only became labored with yards of built-in storage when we started hauling our food processors and George Foreman grills into it. We don’t need every cookery gadget in the world at our ready fingertips. Keep what you daily need close at hand and delegate that “oh-so-necessary” pasta maker to a closet. After all, the less culinary clutter you have, the less storage you’ll need.  The less burdened it is, the more elegant it will become.

Every good room need space to take a breath. The kitchen is no different.








Greg Tankersley for McAlpine Tankersley


  1. Nancy says:

    I could not agree more! Twenty years ago we deleted all overhead cabinets at a vacation home in Vail with splendid results. All of the pictures are beautiful and fascinating.
    Thank you for making the case!

  2. Kit Reuther says:

    Finally someone with credentials is challenging the conventional wisdom regarding kitchen storage. thank you Greg Tankersley!

  3. Derilyn Lavender Lee says:

    Beautiful kitchens and they certainly appear to have plenty of storage. No overhead cabinets leaves more space for beautiful windows.

  4. Lorrie Deal says:

    We spotted some cabinets made by Deal’s Cabinetry!

  5. Kris Kendrick says:

    In my next kitchen, there will be no overhead cabinetry – and all lower cabinets will be drawer-style. With lighting!

  6. Angela says:

    Agreed wholeheartedly. I call mine the ‘unkitchen’. Furniture and the absense of upper cabinetry makes it so.

  7. Angela says:

    In remodeling my suburban kitchen last year, I followed my aesthetic preferences, which required removing most of my upper cabinetry and cutting my pantry storage by two-thirds (gasp!). As a result, I had to donate many of my useless kitchen gadgets, and cut back on my warehouse-club spending. I’m a more thoughtful shopper, and definitely a happier and more productive cook for my family. I wouldn’t trade my current kitchen for all the pantry space and uppers in suburbia.

  8. Holly Simmel says:

    We are redesigning our kitchen with no upper cabinets, only base cabinets and an island with drawers. Beautiful materials and good light will create a room we want to be in where we just happen to cook. Thanks for sharing your innovative designs.

  9. David says:

    All the beautiful photos make me want to tear down the cabinets adjacent to the sole window in my kitchen. I’ll keep this in mind at renovation time!

  10. Willow Decor says:

    Absolutely agree. I banished all but two small upper cabinets in my home. In every kitchen I have worked on since we eliminate or almost eliminate the upper cabinets. Your designs are gorgeous and functional. Love the photos. xx Gina

  11. Perfect blog post and photos
    exemplify the beauty of the kitchen
    without rows of uppers. Relegate~ pantry/cupboards more future. . .
    Informative and exquisite future kitchen design concepts!

  12. Segreto Secrets says:

    I love the look of no upper cabinets!! All of these kitchens are beautiful examples of how open a space can be without them without losing storage!!
    xo. Leslie
    Segreto Finishes

  13. Miabella says:

    I couldn’t agree more!

    With the design of my last house, I had upper and lower cabinets in the kitchen, in the bar area and in the butler’s pantry. When looking for things, all you’d hear were cabinets opening and closing. It was ridiculous. You can have too many cabinets. And with more cabinets, the more kitchen gadgets I bought and stored. When I moved, I actually packed things I had never used.

    I’m currently “pinteresting” pictures for the design of my next house. (Before Pinterest, I tore out pictures from magazines and put them in a binder. :-)) I want no upper cabinets. And some of my best ideas seem to come from pictures of houses your team has designed and built, hence, why I’m here reading your blog.

    My goal is a modern french farmhouse style in Texas (probably not far from the Woodlands). I seem to have this mix of your Romance style meets Gleason Napa pavilion design converging in my ideas.

    I have 2-3 years to figure it all out. So in the mean time, I’m having a great time pouring through all your posts.

    Thanks so much for the inspiration! You and your team’s eye for scale is wonderful too.

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