One of the most popular (and also one of the most controversial) kitchen design trends of the past few years has been open shelving. Replacing your upper cabinets with open shelving gives your kitchen a lighter, more open look, and it’s a great way to put beautiful dishware on display. On the flip side, it can look a bit chaotic unless you edit rigorously, and then there’s the issue of dust and grime collecting on your dishes. If you like the lighter look of open shelving, but not the attendant hassle, there is another way.
This is a classic look that’s been seen in kitchens for a very long time: cabinets with glass doors. You get some of the visual lightness of open shelving, with a bit less of the chaotic feel. Plus your dishes are protected from dust and grease.
An important thing to keep in mind about glass-doored cabinets, however, is that they can be just as unforgiving as open shelving. The photo above was taken in the kitchen of my little house in Houston, which had a couple of glass-front cabinets that gave the kitchen a really nice look. When I moved in, however, I discovered that I had to be very careful about what I put in them. If I didn’t make an effort to match the dishes in the glass cabinets, the kitchen tended to look a little cluttered. If you don’t like the idea of having to edit, this might not be the right look for you.
For this reason, many kitchens with glass-door cabinets have a mix of glass fronts and traditional cabinet doors. This way, you can hide away your less appealing dishes, but still have them within easy reach.
In this home, a row of glass-door cabinets is supplemented by a china hutch. Forgoing the row of cabinets above the stove means the kitchen feels very open and spacious—and there’s room for artwork, too.
Here’s another kitchen with a mix of glass door cabinets and traditional cabinets—both the lower and upper rows flaking the sink have glass doors. Notice how carefully the homeowner has matched the dishes in the exposed cabinets.
Here’s another example of a mix of glass front and traditional cabinet doors. The mullioned glass doors give a bit of a traditional feel—I believe these cabinets are IKEA.
Here, just two cabinets have the glass doors and the upper cabinets have solid doors. (This is probably a pretty wise choice for those up-high cabinets, which by virtue of their location are generally used to store out-of-season things.) Even though there are only two glass cabinets, they do significantly lighten up the look of the kitchen.
Here’s one more photo to inspire you: a very modern kitchen with very modern frosted glass cabinet doors (which I believe are also from IKEA). The great thing about the frosted glass is that you still get a bit of that lighter look, but it’s much more forgiving when it comes to carefully matching the items inside.