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Updating a Kitchen by Removing Cabinets

Kitchen cabinets makeovers don’t always have to be full gut jobs. Sometimes updating a kitchen by removing cabinets, painting them, and adding a new countertops makes it brand new. At the Hillcrest House, we did exactly that.

Dakr kitchen cabinets before painting white and adding open shelving

The clients wanted to update their kitchen without doing a full gut job. We decided they would keep their existing kitchen cabinets since they were such high quality, and  also lower the height of the island so it was one level. It had one of those bar height ledges that felt dated.

Kitchen cabinets before painting

The clients loved their brick, and we decided to keep that the raw color. The floors were also getting refinished to a darker stain to make it seem more updated through the rest of the house. The kitchen itself  is huge and had a great layout.

Dark wood Cabinets before painting

They even have this extra coffee bar and pantry area that offered great storage. The real question was, how do we update this  kitchen, because even if the cabinets are painted, they still felt heavy and dated to me with their staggered height. I did a digital mock up for them to show them what it would look like without the cabinets there.

Mock up of kitchen without cabinets

I asked them how they used their storage and how they felt about removing the cabinets on each side of the window and adding some pretty open shelving there. I mean the window is  gorgeous, but it felt like it was lost to me, flanked by so many cabinets. Those two on each side of the window made the room feel shorter too. They had plenty of storage, so removing them wasn’t an issue. I did a quick mock up for them so they could see how they looked with them gone. We actually removed cabinets in our own kitchen renovation over 10 years ago and replaced it with a free-standing piece of furniture. We were able to get the same amount of storage with a more custom look for a fraction of the price.

Updating a kitchen by removing cabinets and adding open shelving is an easy way to make it look different, give a custom look, and not add any additional cost to the project.

Painted cabinets and added open shelving in a kitchen renovation

It took a while to do the entire kitchen renovation, but once it was done, it looked amazing! I was so happy they took  those cabinets down! The homeowners said everyone who comes in asks them if they had a new window put in. No one  noticed it before and by opening it up it makes it a focal point.

Modern farmhouse kitchen updating a kitchen by removing cabinets

It really accents the space and make it feels so open. Plus, losing that weird ledge gives the island so much more usable prep space! We also changed out the lighting and they added a farmhouse style sink and new countertops and backsplash. Did you know by the way, you can paint old, ugly granite countertops?

Removing cabinets and adding open shelving

I always love this part of the renovation process, when everything comes together! Painting the cabinets in the little pantry area also really brightened it up.

Dark kitchen cabients painted white

It really looks fantastic with the heirloom table and chair set they have.

Painted cabinets and raw brick

I love the island color, and  the rustic contrast of the brick too. It’s nice to not have everything just be white, and gives it some depth.  It is such a great kitchen transformation!

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  1. Wow, this looks incredible! Your kitchen is so much more open now. I am getting my cabinets refinished in a few weeks and have been considering doing open shelving because I love the way it looks. My biggest concern is that the shelves will get extra dusty and dirty since they’re in the kitchen, have you found this to be the case or is it pretty easy to keep them clean?

    1. Hi Sarah, I have open shelves and I just give mine a quick dust. I would say no more than any other surface in our home.

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