Backsplash without Upper Cabinets Highlight Your Backsplash

A backsplash can completely transform a kitchen by adding visual interest, color, and texture. Many homeowners opt to highlight their backsplash by removing upper cabinets. Eliminating upper cabinets draws the eye upward and creates a feeling of openness and space. This design trend allows the backsplash to take center stage.

Reasons to Remove Upper Cabinets and Showcase the Backsplash

There are several benefits to removing upper cabinets and letting your backsplash shine:

Creates an Open, Airy Feel

Removing upper cabinets instantly makes a kitchen feel more spacious and open. With the eye able to travel upward unhindered, the space appears larger and brighter. This creates a relaxed, minimalist aesthetic.

Highlights the Backsplash as a Focal Point

Without competing cabinets, the backsplash becomes a work of art. Vibrant tiles or natural stone come alive and bring warmth, texture, and charm to the room. The backsplash provides visual interest and color.

Allows More Natural Light

Upper cabinets can make a kitchen feel dark and closed in. Taking them away allows more ambient light to fill the space. Backsplashes reflect and amplify this light beautifully. A kitchen will feel sunnier and brighter.

Provides Flexibility in Lighting

Without upper cabinets blocking the way, lighting options are increased. Pendants, track lighting, and recessed lighting can all shine down and illuminate a gorgeous backsplash.

Creates a Modern, Minimalist Look

The clean lines created by removing upper cabinets give a kitchen an updated, contemporary look. This uncluttered style highlighted by a statement backsplash is very on-trend.

Makes a Small Kitchen Appear Larger

For tiny kitchens, a lack of upper cabinets can prevent a closed-in feeling. It opens up the space and makes it feel more expansive. The backsplash becomes a focal point drawing the eye up and out.

Provides Decor and Storage Options

Without upper cabinets, there are unique ways to add décor or storage options that show off the backsplash. Floating shelves mounted in front of a backsplash provide function and enhance its beauty.

Backsplash Ideas for Kitchens Without Upper Cabinets

Choosing the right backsplash is key when creating this look. You want one that makes a statement and becomes an integral design element. Consider these stunning backsplash ideas:

Tile Backsplashes

Tiles allow you to create visual interest with shape, color, and pattern. Handmade artisan tiles, subway tiles, mosaic tiles, and more will look dazzling without upper cabinets competing for attention.

Stone Backsplashes

Natural stone like marble, travertine, or granite slabs create a timeless elegance. The veining and depth of stone is breathtaking without cabinets interrupting sight lines.

Metal or Glass Tile Backsplashes

Shimmery and reflective materials like metal or glass tiles will catch and reflect light beautifully in a kitchen without upper cabinets. They create a glamorous, eye-catching look.

Wood Backsplashes

The rich grain and texture of a wood backsplash adds warmth and natural beauty. Floating shelves mounted in front complement it perfectly.

Brick or Exposed Wall Backsplashes

For an industrial feel, exposing interior brick walls or installing a new brick backsplash has a charming, rustic vibe when accentuated this way.

Natural Stone and Stainless Steel

Pairing natural travertine stone slabs with sleek, modern stainless steel kitchen elements creates contrast and defines the backsplash area.

Bold Colors and Patterns

Since the backsplash is such a focal point, don’t be afraid of bold colors like emerald green or bold patterns like chevron stripes making a statement.

Design Elements that Complement a Backsplash Without Upper Cabinets

Certain design choices can enhance a kitchen backsplash when upper cabinets are removed. Consider incorporating these elements:

Pendant Lighting

Pendant lights mounted at different heights add drama while illuminating the backsplash beautifully. Opt for modern metallic pendants, rustic exposed bulb pendants, or colorful stained glass pendants.

Floating Shelves

Mounted in front of the backsplash, floating shelves provide a place for displaying pretty dishes, vases, or kitchen essentials while accentuating the backsplash itself.

Under Cabinet Lighting

Strips of LED lights mounted under lower cabinets provide both task lighting and backsplash accent lighting for a stunning look.


Natural light and views of landscaping make a perfect backdrop for a backsplash without competing cabinets. Strategically place windows above the backsplash.

Open Shelving

Continuing the clean, minimalist look, open shelves keep necessities handy without obscuring backsplash sightlines.

Archways or Columns

Drawing the eye upward, architectural elements like archways or columns in front of a backsplash create a framing effect.

Decorative Range Hood

A bold, attention-grabbing range hood becomes a focal point complementing the backsplash beautifully. Choose a glass, copper, or colorful range hood.

Accent Colors

Strategically repeating backsplash accent colors in kitchen stools, small appliances, cookware, or dishware ties the whole room together wonderfully.

Tips for Harmonizing Backsplash with Countertops and Cabinets

With so much focus on the backsplash itself, you still want it to feel cohesive. Use these tips for harmonizing with countertops and lower cabinets:

  • Choose countertops and cabinets in similar shades or the same material as backsplash accents.
  • Tie varying countertop and backsplash materials together with color. For example, pair cool white quartz counters with grey and white marble backsplash tiles.
  • Make cabinets and lower third of backsplash one solid color to anchor busy backsplash tiles.
  • Coordinate any veining or patterns between countertops and backsplash stone materials.
  • Echo cabinet hardware finishes in backsplash accents to connect the elements.
  • Create contrast between dark cabinetry and light countertops and backsplash or vice versa.
  • Pick out one color from within a variegated stone backsplash and repeat it in cabinet paint or hardware for continuity.


What are the main advantages to removing upper kitchen cabinets?

The main advantages are an open, airy feel, the backsplash becoming a focal point, allowing in more natural light, increased lighting options, a modern minimalist look, making small kitchens appear larger, and providing decor and storage options using floating shelves.

What types of backsplashes work best in kitchens without upper cabinets?

Tile, stone, metal, glass, wood, brick, and exposed wall backsplashes all look beautiful highlighted without competing upper cabinets.

What design elements complement a backsplash in this type of kitchen?

Pendant lights, floating shelves, under cabinet lighting, strategically placed windows, open shelving, archways/columns, decorative range hoods, and accent colors work well.

How do you harmonize the backsplash with countertops and cabinets?

Choose complementary materials, colors, patterns, and finishes. Make the lower third of backsplash and cabinets one solid color. Echo backsplash accents in hardware and decor. Contrast light countertops with dark cabinetry or vice versa.

Can you add interest without a backsplash when removing upper cabinets?

Yes, options like wallpaper, board and batten, picture rail molding, or shelving can add visual interest without a backsplash when skipping upper cabinetry.

What mistakes should you avoid with this kitchen style?

Avoid backsplashes and countertops clashing instead of coordinating. Don’t choose a backsplash that blends in instead of standing out. Insufficient task and accent lighting can make the space feel dark and unbalanced.

How do you add storage without upper cabinets?

Built-in storage like drawers, pull-out vertical storage, pantry cabinets, open shelving for dishes or spices, and floating shelves and rails provide storage options without upper cabinets.

Is this a style that works for small kitchen spaces?

Yes, removing upper cabinets can actually make a small kitchen feel more open and spacious. Just be sure to incorporate alternative storage options.

What about dust and grease accumulation on a backsplash without upper cabinets?

Be sure to use backsplash materials that can be easily cleaned. Wipe backsplashes down frequently and use washable materials like tile, metals, glass versus porous untreated stone or wood.

Should you install additional task lighting under upper cabinets if removing them?

Yes, good task lighting under the lower cabinets remaining is key. This avoids shadows and ensures you have ample lighting for food prep and cooking needs.


Eliminating upper kitchen cabinets is an of-the-moment design concept that showcases the gorgeous backsplash as the star. Visually opening up the kitchen, the space feels airier and larger allowing light to illuminate a bold, artistic backsplash. When thoughtfully executed, this look feels relaxed yet elegant. Carefully harmonizing all the elements creates a kitchen that makes an incredible design statement.






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