20 Best Kitchen Cabinet Alternatives That Make Sense

Last updated on May 27, 2024

These are the kitchen cabinet alternatives that will give the old storage unit a run for its money. Read on to find some great ideas and inspiration.

space-saving kitchen storage solutions

At first glance, one would think that the only alternative to kitchen cabinets is no kitchen cabinets at all. But this is far from true. In fact, there are several different non-cabinet options available. We have counted 20 great alternatives, and that’s probably not the end.

Short of keeping things on the counter, there are quite a few great ways to spice up the kitchen design and get even more than simple cabinets can offer. This can be more storage, multi-purposing, or just a nice decor accent. Keep reading for some great ideas.

We are going to illustrate these alternatives with visuals, and in some cases shopping links (we earn a commission). This will not cost you anything.

Do you have your favorite ways to ditch the old kitchen cabinet?

What's Inside

Sideboard or Buffet

Buffet Server Sideboard

Check Out the Top 10 Best Sideboards and Buffets

In the kitchen, sideboards and buffets provide opportunities to create more storage in a shorter space. It is popular for room design or traditional style homes because of these pieces’ convenience as alternatives to options like more counters or higher cabinets. There are some differences between the two types: sideboards are typically dresser-sized and accommodate shelves that can be used either casually, as surface levels not only displays, whereas buffets are dining table-size and traditionally have a large cabinet door.


Bestier Bookshelf 5 Tier Bookcase Adjustable
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A bookcase can be used as an alternative to a kitchen cabinet. Using a wide and tall bookcase, one can create a pantry or closet, divided organizer trays in any section of the bookcase to hold lightweight things like spices, or use the whole display area for bookshelves.

An inexpensive counter from a home improvement store can be used to make a faux cabinet. There are many options:– Use rows of backless bookcases, each set two or three deep, beneath a counter to create makeshift cabinets. – Repurpose an old kitchen furniture (i.e., the back of a sturdy bookcase) as the back for a bench seat, and use it for storage space in case your kitchen has limited space.


American Furniture Classics Os Home And Office
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In recent years, people have started to use old hutches as a storage alternative in their kitchens. They can provide you with plenty of storage, and you can either have visible or hidden things. Antique furniture tends to compliment natural textures and patterns in the room and the rest of your home, while modern hutches are edgier. Use old hutches as kitchen cabinet alternatives.

However, it’s not a great alternative for every kitchen with a small amount of floor space. They take up an immense amount of floor space and can be difficult to get by when moving it. When you decide to move a hutch, you might have trouble due to how heavy and bulky it is.


Odk Kitchen Bakers Rack Utility Storage Shelf
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Kitchen cabinets may be no longer necessary as a wire rack shelving unit, the same as in commercial kitchens, can be the storage to stack dishes and rows of cups.

Racks have been used as kitchen cabinet alternatives for many years. They can be grouped into a cohesive look using different items where one shelf is for dishes, one for pot and pans, and another for dish towels. This makes it easier to find things in your kitchen with ease and adds a bit of decoration to the room. If you don’t want so much clutter on lower shelves, use some small wire crates that won’t cause any accidents if they fall over because they are lightweight yet stylish.

Floating Shelves

Wgx 32'' 2-tiers Rustic Kitchen Wood Wall Shelf
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Floating shelves are an open and airy addition to kitchens with few or no cabinets. They are an excellent choice if you plan on using them for dishes and heavy items. Be sure to mount them securely to wall studs or use anchors rated for heavy items. You can also use these shelves with a track-based closet storage system that lets you customize storage capacity according to the available space. You can add as many shelves or hanging baskets as desired, each open shelf mounting along the track.

Repurposed Furniture

repurposed kitchen island

Old or used furniture is cheaply sold at yard sales and discount stores. Some of these items can be repurposed for the kitchen, such as a china cabinet. Paint it to match your kitchen’s decoration, just like an antiqued finish made of layers that will show various colors when sanding through.

Many people who cannot afford kitchen cabinets can use items like dressers, sideboards, chests, and hutch units as their next best alternative to buying. Items like these serve many functions in the kitchen, such as wooden units making great places to store pots and pans, while other furniture pieces can work well for dish scrubbing supplies. Remove any drawers not necessary to your unit’s function (you can use drawer alternatives) and then pained them a color that reflects something in your kitchen that you’ve already chosen from elsewhere.

Cabinet refacing is a popular technique using parts of repurposed furniture (such as doors) to get a vintage look and decor accent.


Mygift 16 X 10 Inch Vintage Whitewashed Wood
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Do you have old fruit crates? You can use these to organize items on your shelves.Do you have old wooden shipping containers or farm cabinetry? You can choose to use these as an alternative for kitchen cabinets by finding a rustic finish.

Metal Lockers

Novogratz Cache Single Metal Locker Storage, Mint
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It is said that lockers from high school can be employed for organizational purposes in your kitchen. Vertically mounted, these shelves or bins are great for storing any snacks that one does not want to be accessible by their child, such as on after-school days when the kids are watching TV, and it’s tempting to throw Cheetos all over the rug. Lockers seem like a viable option in any designated vicinity inside a home with children to keep their snacks untouched.

Sliding Door Pantry

Kate And Laurel Cates Decorative Wood Wall Storage
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When a door is replaced with a sliding barn-style door it is more commanding.

Shelves with Baskets

Whitmor Rattique Small Shelf Tote Espresso
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To effectively search through your items, while your cabinets still have a good amount of space, use baskets to hold the items you want. Most homeowners replace their shelves with baskets because they are more attractive and less expensive than taking down and replacing their shelving or cabinets. They are also easier to clean, which is great for those who have small children or animals who seem always to find their way into your kitchen. Using baskets as an alternative to shelves will allow you space for a considerable amount. It’s also an attractive solution with open shelving.

Shelves can be placed in the kitchen for items that you don’t want to take out of the basket, which would require lifting it down each time, and could contain dirt or become dirty. Your baskets will either need to be replaced over time, or the baskets won’t store everything. Therefore they’ll need a new purchase—some people like shelves with baskets as an alternative to kitchen cabinet storage.

Kitchen Rail

Wallniture Gourmet Kitchen Rail With 10 Hooks,
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A rail is a set of hooks that mount to the back of a door or wall to provide an inexpensive storage solution for an individual’s clothes. Hanging clothes are often seen as a nuisance. They clutter up space and dryer time, sometimes leading to mildew or mold. Hanger bars solve many of these issues by maximizing ground space in the room and saving time and energy with drying items. The practicality and flexibility are great for minimalist home design, maximizing counter space.

A hanger bar may be a good option to store kitchen items. However, it is best for items that can be hung, such as cookware and kitchen wear. Plates, bowls, glasses, and other things that need to be stacked on the shelves need another place in the kitchen. Additionally, the space on a hanger bar is generally small compared to a cabinet, and some people prefer not having all their vessels out in plain sight. But if used properly, it can aid well with organizing.


Songmics Rustic Drawer Dresser, Wide Storage
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A dresser is a good option for a smaller kitchen because it can act as your countertop, workspace, and storage space. It’s much easier to find affordable dressers that are in many different budgets so you won’t overspend when updating your kitchen. It would help if you painted it. The dresser’s bottom also has drawers or cabinets that hold your items out of sight, which means that if you worry about how neat or picked up your kitchen will be.

One caveat is that using a dresser as a kitchen cabinet instead of the traditional wood cabinet looks out of place. It may be impossible to use a dresser in a room with traditional cabinets since the two furniture pieces look different.


Homeries Cube Storage System – Modular Diy
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Cubbies are a space-saving alternative and are highly customizable for your needs. Their purpose is to either decorate or store items, depending on what the user wants. To construct these mini cages, you would need wood boards that can be custom-made then nailed together to form the structure you want. Cubbies are a useful appliance that doubles as both a decoration and storage option, which most people do not know about yet. Cubbies help organize your kitchen by storing smaller items instead.

Ceiling Mounted Shelves

Industrial Ceiling Mount Shelf Hanging Floating
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It will become one of your kitchen focal points, and when entertaining guests, it will also allow you to show off your taste and style in home decorating. These shelves are great because they don’t have to be anchored to the wall, so if you live in a home with walls made from plaster, it’s no big deal. This way, you can still have that industrial feel without having access problems.

Ceiling suspended shelves is not practical if you have little knowledge of construction or installation regarding your ceiling. For this reason, we would recommend that only an expert should install your suspension shelving. Customer and inspection feedback reveals that these shelving units tend to accumulate grease and dust and fingerprints, making it difficult to keep your dishes clean. Ceiling-suspended shelves are not recommended if you lack knowledge of constructing the ceilings or installing them to support the weight.


kitchen wall ledges

Ledges next to your countertop can make your kitchen look spacious. You’ll want to use the same material for a seamless look.

Ledges as a kitchen cabinet alternative are inconvenient because they require essential decorating skills. It would be best if you got matching voluminous wares in wide disparity to achieve a compelling look. Ledges as something of an outside-the-box idea for installing kitchen cabinets does not always work, requiring major skills to avoid making a messy appearance. Having matching shapes and sizes or different shapes and sizes altogether creates enough interest for what you are looking at.

Industrial Shelves

Amazon Basics 4-shelf Adjustable, Heavy Duty
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A metal shelving rack you can use to store various kitchen necessities can give a stylish and organized appearance to your kitchen. Comparing their benefits to using cabinets, you need to pair them with other things such as a backsplash or countertop to make your kitchen feel less sterile and commercial-like.

Wooden Racks

Bamboo Spice Rack Storage Shelves-3 Tier Standing
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In wooden racks, storage offers warmth and an organic look to the kitchen while providing additional storage. The dishes need to be in a cupboard, organized, and ready for when guests come over. In some cases, people do this by using the dishes purchased or found from second-hand stores. Those who cannot afford these lately will use IKEA food storage or cabinets with wood racks as an alternative to those who can afford them. It’s also a great way to display them.

Countertop Shelves

Ollieroo 3 Tier Corner Shelf Bamboo Countertop
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Countertop shelves are basically an organizer rack that makes use of free counter space for storage. These are especially useful in awkward corners that otherwise aren’t efficiently used. You can even place a Lazy Susan in the corner for more functional convenience.

Pull-out Pantry

Wooden Can Organizer & Spice Rack - Slim Rolling
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A slim organizer cart on wheels is also known as the pull-out pantry because you can put it in narrow spaces (such as free space between appliances and cabinets. It’s very useful if you have such space available (otherwise it’s left unused).

Frosted Glass Panels

Elegant Home Fashions Dixie Wall Cabinet With
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Many kitchens allow people to keep with a sleek, open floor plan while still letting them get away with upper cabinets. Frosted glass cabinet doors give people the opportunity to display other items on their shelves that could not have been seen before.

When dealing with standard kitchen cabinets, it isn’t easy to deal with space in other ways that may be more productive or aesthetically pleasing. It can also be difficult to work around corners and angles because cabinet doors are usually not adjustable. Frosted glass panels provide an alternative take on a kitchen cabinet where you can have all four walls as your cabinets, and you won’t get stuffy or claustrophobic bending over in a cramped space. This way, everything stays at eye level.

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