Kitchen cabinets design dilemma

So I have a little design dilemma that I am hoping you can help me with today! Smile  I need to make a decision on what to do about cabinet doors/open shelving in my kitchen.  (Before I move forward with painting the cabinets, replacing the hardware and hopefully changing/painting the countertops and installing a backsplash – LONG term project.)

You have seen pictures of my kitchen looking like this and probably wondered what in the world is up the missing cabinet doors??  That’s ok, I think the same thing!  


It helps when I remember Nester’s mantra – “It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful” – that saying is pretty much true in EVERY area of my life.  My house is never clean enough (ha – or just plain clean!),  my decorating is usually not quite as good as I would like it, my cakes – we won’t even start there, if I can make them taste good regardless of how they look, I feel ok.  Nothing I do or the way my house looks is even close to perfect.  But if I think it looks pretty or the people I am doing it for think it looks pretty, that is all that matters!  (Hard for the semi-perfectionist in me to swallow, but I am working on it…)

Anyways, our home was a HUD home when we bought it and when we moved in it was missing the corner cabinet door.  I removed the other one and took it to every store around to see if they could match it – no one could match it identically unless I was to get it “custom made” = mega $$$$ (for a cabinet design I am not in love with to begin with.)  So it has looked like this for oh….about 8 years (way to get on that again, Christina!)


When I cleaned out and reorganized my kitchen cabinets a few weeks ago, I rearranged these two cabinets to look more “decorative” along with being functional.   

I wanted to see how I liked this look so I could make a decision on whether to leave them open or add glass cabinet doors or something totally different. 

Here it is again with a few more pop of red added for Valentine’s Day.


I have always thought I would add glass pane cabinet doors like this (instead of leaving them completely open)AKURUM Wall cabinet with glass door, birch, Lidingö white Width: 14 7/8

I would also like to close in the sides of the both cabinets (as you can see in first picture the shelves go all the way through across the whole wall so there is no wall separating the two end cabinets from the cabinet above the microwave).  First of all, so that I could add glass shelves like the above picture and install lighting to shine down through it. Smile  And second of all so it looks more finished and you don’t see through to everything in the cabinet over the microwave.

So as I have been thinking and browsing for ideas, I saw this photo of Traci’s  kitchen from her last house (from Beneath My Heart)

Here’s another angle


Looks a lot like my cabinets/wall and exactly what I was thinking about doing!  Gorgeous, right?   (One difference though, do you see it?)

And I found this – a feature of The Lovely Cupboards kitchen cabinets

And this idea from Remodelaholic


Open cabinets from The Letter Cottage

More open shelving over at Perfectly Imperfect

I do like open shelving … but I think it has to fit in your kitchen style.  My kitchen is very traditional in style and I am not sure that open shelving fits into the look of my kitchen.  (And no plans to gut and redo the kitchen, either – going to make cosmetic changes, not major changes Winking smile)

Here’s a picture of my whole kitchen…


Hmmm… so much inspiration??  Can’t decide – glass cabinet doors or open shelving???

The picture from Traci’s kitchen got me thinking though – did you see the one difference?  The cabinets on the sides have glass cabinet doors, glass shelves, and lights – BUT the middle cabinet above the microwave is OPEN! Smile


So I took the stuff out of that cabinet and arranged a little vignette to see what I thought?  What if I was to do the glass cabinet doors on the sides and remove the cabinet doors above the microwave? (I could possibly even remove the brace in the middle once I closed in the side cabinets?? could also put a glass shelf in there?? or even remove the middle shelf to make one really large space??)


So what do you think?  Can you visualize it?

Glass pane doors on each sides with glass shelves (with pretty lighting!) and  cabinet in the middle open?

Or the same glass pane doors with glass shelves and leave the regular cabinet doors in the middle (I could definitely use the storage although I like the “pretty display space” )


And one more idea while I am throwing them out there!

(Still trying to get my pretty display space somewhere… Winking smile)


I am also playing with putting something at the end of my cabinet…

Here’s a pottery barn knockoff idea that 320 Sycamore did in her kitchen


Or see the little shelves at the end of the cabinet in this picture – from House 4 featured on Remodelaholic

Too much for this little space?  I think either one would be easy and very cheap to add.


I would love to know what you think!

Here’s the choices:

  1. Leave the cabinets open as is (not really liking this option, since I have lived with them this way for 8 years and always wanted to change them.)
  2. Add glass pane cabinet doors, glass shelves, and lighting in the two side cabinets – LEAVE the cabinet doors over the microwave in place.
  3. Add glass pane cabinet doors, glass shelves, lighting in the two side cabinets – TAKE OFF the cabinet doors in the middle above the microwave to create a display space.
  4. Add something to the side of the cabinets – shelves, hanging something?

Which one do you vote for?

By the way whichever way I choose, open cabinets or glass doors, I plan to add some sort of fun patterned fabric or paper or paint treatment on the back of the cabinets. Smile  Example from this pin

 Wallpaper back of cabinets



  1. Number 3!!!!! It would be beautiful!
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  2. Sara Wright says:

    I also like number 3! Our first little rental had a decorative space above the stove, and I enjoyed it! I had our wedding cake topper up there!

  3. Whichever you choose to do, I would def open up the middle. It makes the sides looked ‘planned’ that way. Then you could leave the rest of the cabinets closed up and it would look good I think. I really want to do something with my kitchen too, but don’t think it will happen this year.

  4. My friend did the patterned paper behind the shelves and boy did that help dress up cabinet area! If you don’t mind keeping the whole area neat and orderly, I think keeping all the doors off that whole area above the microwave and putting patterned paper behind would be the cheapest way to go. #3 would be my next step when you had the $$.

  5. It has to be number 3. Opening the cabinets above the microwave make the missing cabinet oors look intentional. Adding glass shelves and lightening would make them look finished.

    I agree that adding some fun paper or paint at the back of the shelves will add just the right pop of color. I can see the teal from your dining room curtains being used to pull the two rooms together .
    I think shelves on the outside of the cabinet would make it look unbalanced as thought there is to much weight on that side, but a PB knock off look would add a little spunk.

    • Christina says:

      I think you are right about the shelves.

      and I think I am going with option 3 too 🙂 working on ordering the doors then will go from there.

  6. I like idea #3. But I think it would look great to just remove the over-the-microwave cab doors and do a treatment on the back of the cabs if not forever but until you get the glass shelves. I did something similar to my kitchen but I took the doors of on purpose. I also painted the back of my cabs red. If you’d like to see it, visit my blog and look under “my home”. BTW, whatever you do it will be lovely. You have a nice kitchen with which to work.

    • Christina says:

      I saw your red cabinet backs – that looks really nice! I am working on my kitchen – maybe I will have some progress soon to share 🙂

  7. Sherry George says:

    Definitely #3 (just my opinion.) I wish I could do something like that in my kitchen. But with wild and crazy teenage boys still at home, not much opportunity to make anything pretty and have it last. lol

  8. I think that I would definitely do #3. It would be beautiful. A pattern or color behind the shelves would be lovely.
    I would also try to do #4 (if for nothing else to get it out of your system!) with command hooks of some sort. This would allow you to visually have hooks there to see whether you like them and easy removal if you don’t. Now as for the shelves….well, you’d just have to try it I guess. My concern would be would adding something to the side look too crowded by the door. Not sure. Anyhoo, #3 is a go.
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    • Christina says:

      I think that is my choice 🙂 Gotta work on finding the doors now and then the fun pattern fabric or paper 🙂

      And I like your idea about the command hooks – will wait until I have the doors and then see what I think.

  9. Ok I have to be difficult and not choose one of your options – I say go for the open shelving look, with no cabinet doors!

  10. I really like No. 3 also. I was happy to see your post as I just bought an over the range microwave but need to remove the existing cabinet as it is too long – previously had a Jenn-Air range which had a downdraft system and replacing it with a range without the downdraft. The building supply counter person said we could have a shorter cabinet made to match our cabinets for about $500.00. We think that’s a lot to spend for a 12″ cabinet and thought about having an open shelf in that area. After looking at your pictures, I really do like the look. Thanks for sharing!!

    • Christina says:

      wow, $500?? I think I would figure out how to make my own cabinet or open shelving in that area for that much. 🙂 I would have to get custom doors made for mine is why I am considering either leaving them open or making my own glass cabinet doors.

  11. Cheryl says:

    Hi Christina,
    It’s been a while – what have you decided to do?

  12. Honestly, I don’t like glass cabinets but since you don’t want open door cabinets anymore, you can just add shelving to the sides. I noticed you seem to favor the color white, yes? I only see one item in black – your toaster! 😀 I hope you will be happy with whatever you do decide to do with your kitchen cabinets.

  13. I opt for cabinets with glass doors because open shelving scares me. I suffer from dustophobia, haha!


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