Kitchen Improvement – Removing Cabinet Doors

Remove Kitchen Cabinet DoorsAs a renter, our kitchen is one of the most frustrating areas.  The kitchen in our current apartment is long and narrow with standard wooden cabinet doors, not exactly the light and airy space with open shelving that I dream of!  Unfortunately for renters there isn’t many options for making over a boring kitchen space.  It is not like I can paint the kitchen cabinets…therefore I decided to remove some of the cabinet doors to create the illusion of open shelving!  I also used removable wallpaper as shelf backing in some areas as well.  I just love how I am now able to display my favorite kitchen dishes and accessories without cluttering the counter, while also adding some much-needed pops of color and personality to an otherwise boring area!

First I removed the upper cabinet doors on the right wall of our kitchen (the side you mostly see from the living room).  Having painted kitchen cabinet doors in the past, the idea of removing (and reattaching when the time comes) the doors was not a daunting process for me.  You really only need a screw driver (or drill) and some plastic baggies to keep it all organized.  I currently have my cabinet doors stacked in a storage closet, with the hinges still attached.

take them off

This is what the kitchen looked like before (note: the cabinets actually photograph better than they look in person!).  Since the cabinets are not too bad I decided to leave most of the uppers on the left side, and of course didn’t remove any of the bottom cabinet doors.

Cabinets Before 1I really wanted to have a fun and colorful backing option for the open shelves.  While I love the idea of a fabric backing or actual wallpaper I decided instead on purchasing some removable wallpaper (I like to make things as easy as possible, and easy to change).  I tracked down a print (Lovely Lemons) that I have always loved but couldn’t previously find a use for, this was via Walls Need Love on Etsy.  Once the cabinet doors were off I tried this wallpaper as the backing for some of the now open shelving on the right:

Cabinet Wall Paper Close Up Bowls and Wallpaper Cabinet Wallpaper -GlassesI just loved the way the lemon print coordinated with our Gloriosa Dinnerware, Cumulus Glassware, and Elka Bowls and Mugs from Anthropologie as well as our Lennox Chirp Dinnerware from Bed Bath & Beyond (ok I am a little obsessed with dishes)! However…I underestimated how much wallpaper we would actually need to cover the back of the shelves (including extra for errors like bad cuts, wrong measurements etc.)!!  Since this wallpaper is not exactly cheap, I decided to use it in only one spot…for now.

My compromise was to remove the cabinet doors off of one area on the opposite side of the kitchen above the sink, and just use the wallpaper there.  Since the wallpaper is removable this was a pretty simple process.

Filled Center Shelf -WallpaperCenter Cabinet RowHaving just a small area of open shelving on the left side of the kitchen really helped tie the look all together.  Placing the wallpaper in just the one area also helped to add an extra pop of color and pattern while I wait and decide if I am going to order more.  This area was styled with a fun printable from Over The Big Moon, a vintage crate, some vintage cookbooks and tea cup as well as some newer cookbooks, and a birdcage.   This is actually my favorite spot of the entire kitchen now!

I decided that since I love to display my dishes and cute vintage kitchen accessories I would leave the cabinet doors off on the other side as planned (as I can always add more of the lovely lemons wallpaper later).  This helps to give the kitchen more of that open airy feeling, and will continue to be fun to style and change throughout the seasons:

Finished WallMug HolderClose Up Finished RightOpen Shelving DoneI love having my KitchenAid mixer on display but off of the counter, along with my cake plates, tea cups and other accessories.  In keeping with the open display look I attached a white metal mug rack from HomeGoods on the wall next to the cabinets.  I really enjoy the openness and ease of the kitchen now!

While this still may not be my dream kitchen, it is definitely an improvement and a great way to change things up, especially for renters!

entire kitchen

Check out how these creative bloggers have updated their kitchens as well!

Perfectly Imperfect – Open Shelving (starting with white cabinets makes even more of an impact!)

Centsational Girl – Solutions for Renters – Kitchens (including removing cabinets-and more!)

Apartment Therapy – 10 Ideas for the Kitchen (I wish I could do them all!)

* Have you removed your kitchen cabinet doors or found a great way to update your kitchen space?  Email me at to be featured!


  1. ms c says

    What a great way to be able to see your pretty dishware and add color also to a standard kitchen. A quick and easy update without all the mess .Love it, keep the ideas coming.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *