Freestanding Kitchen Cabinets: The Old Made New

freestanding cabinets

Most people today associate kitchen cabinets with the usual wall and base cabinets with finished sides and fronts, and unfinished backs, which nobody sees anyway. These cabinets connect to the wall and join together to form a seamless front. This is still the most common type of kitchen cabinets today, but there is an interesting trend for freestanding cabinets. These were popular before the 1950s, and soon on legs with finished backs as well as fronts and sides.

A bit of kitchen cabinet history

prewar kitchen with freestanding cabinetsBack in the day before World War II, all kitchen cabinets were freestanding. You could move them around so it was easy to reconfigure the kitchen layout. You could move the stove, refrigerator, and other appliances as needed. The only thing you couldn’t move was the kitchen sink since that needed to be in a fixed place due to the plumbing.

By the 1940s, there was a trend for wraparound metal kitchen cabinets, a consequence of the advances in mass production for wartime use made it easy. After the war, it was simply easier to produce these cabinets than freestanding one that had to be made by hand. Practicality won the day, and freestanding kitchen cabinets went out of fashion.

By the time the 1950s rolled around, people began remodeling their kitchens on their own or by hiring contractors as a hobby. Homeowners took more control over the overall design of their kitchens, and opted for more affordable and available stock cabinets to answer their storage needs. Stock or RTA cabinets were simply easier and cheaper than making and installing freestanding cabinets.

Old style comes back into fashion

kitchen islandPragmatism had its day, but it seems it is no longer the end all and be all of design. At least, it isn’t when it comes to kitchen cabinets. Larger kitchens and the popularity of kitchen islands has made freestanding kitchen cabinets a lot more possible and even desirable.

Kitchen islands are, by definition, free standing. They dominate the place in some kitchens and include the cooking top, and maybe even the sink. They definitely have the potential to provide enough storage for a typical kitchen. The bonus is they also provide eating and working areas, so they are space savers. Designers call this a freestanding kitchen by the big role a freestanding cabinet configuration played by the kitchen island.

The standard fixed wall and base cabinets are still popular, especially for smaller kitchens. However, many cabinetmakers now make finished freestanding cabinets available to their customers, so they are just as practical as many stock cabinets in that sense. There is also a subtle move towards other prewar kitchen staples, such as subway tiles and wide plank floors.

However, freestanding cabinets for kitchen islands do tend to be more expensive because the materials have to be finish-ready on all sides. Most stock cabinets only have solid wood on the front. With freestanding cabinets, this has to be on all sides of the cabinet. That said, they do have some neat advantages.


diagram of freestanding cabinetsFreestanding cabinets are classic, obviously. A traditional style appeals to many homeowners today. Because it is freestanding, it is also easier to clean than standard base cabinets. You can go all around them, over and under, and move them to get at all the niggly bits under the floor.
Freestanding cabinets are also flexible. You can put them anywhere you want, and move them anytime. The surface is finished on all sides, so it does not matter where you put them. They will still look fantastic.

Right now, you have fewer design options for stock freestanding cabinets available. Of course, you can always have it custom built to suit your design if you have the budget. However, as their popularity grows, more cabinetmakers will produce them in wider ranges of styles, colors, and configurations.

Installation of freestanding cabinets is also pretty much idiot-proof. All you have to do is unpack and level them. You can adjust the level of most freestanding cabinets by adjusting the leg screws found inside the cabinet box. You can join two or more freestanding cabinets to form a single unit using fasteners or anchor it to the wall, but why would you want to do that?

Just like with standard stock or RTA cabinets, you have a choice of good quality and not so good quality freestanding cabinets. To make sure you get what you want, get them from established cabinet brands. It may even be better to contact a cabinet supplier so you get a wide range of options across established brands in one sweep. Cabinet Land Kitchen and Beyond is just the resource you need.


We offer free consultation services and quotes, so you can have the benefit of our expertise without spending a dime. We carry only the top cabinet brands, including Schrock, Fabuwood, J and K Cabinets, Forevermark, and Wolf Cabinets, at lower prices than big box stores. Our turnaround is none too shabby, either, compared to our competitors such as Cabinets to Go, Advance Cabinets and Handsome Cabinets.

We are a local remodeling company with a showroom located in Schaumburg, Illinois. We service the Illinois area in general, but if you are in the Chicago, Schaumburg, Arlington Height, Des Plaines, Hoffman Estate, and Elk Grove Village area, we are within easy reach.
Visit us today to see what we have to offer. We service Chicago land and have the expertise and resources to complete virtually any type of kitchen cabinets – ON TIME and ON BUDGET with top quality craftsmanship that will exceed your expectations.