The Benefits of Freestanding Kitchen Cabinets

freestanding cabinets

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Cabinets are basically boxing with doors, and the ideal way to store things out of sight. Kitchen cabinets are typically either fixed base cabinets or wall cabinets, and usually both. You will not see that while the fronts and sides are finished, the back panels are usually not since they are not visible.

However, back in the day, people used freestanding cabinets in the home, including the kitchen. As the name implies, they have legs planted on the floor and were not fixed.  All the sides are finished as you could put them in the middle of the room or as a divider the separate the kitchen from the rest of the home. 

Many homes had these freestanding cabinets prior to the 1950s, and it is starting to appear again today. While the typical wall and base cabinets are still the most popular storage solution, you should know the benefits of freestanding kitchen cabinets.

Historical context

prewar kitchen with freestanding cabinets

All cabinets prior to World War II were freestanding cabinets, except for the cabinet holding the sink. It was easy to move them as well major appliances from place to place, so changing the kitchen layout was much easier. In most cases, these freestanding cabinets were wood.

However, the ability to mass produce metal quickly and cost-effectively led to the rise in popularity of wraparound metal cabinets in the 1940s. Freestanding cabinets fell from favor because it took much more time to produce handcrafted furniture.

In the 1950s, homeowners began taking back more control over the look of their kitchens. They moved away from metal cabinets in favor of RTA and stock cabinets, which were readily available in many more styles and colors than before due to mass production.  Freestanding cabinets were still too expensive for many of them.

Back to the future

kitchen island

Freestanding cabinets were not the practical choice, but changes in thinking have made practicality less important. Homeowners wanted something unique for their kitchens, and freestanding cabinets fit the bill in many ways. The rise in popularity of retro pieces and kitchen islands has rekindled the interest in freestanding cabinets.

This is particularly due to the trend for kitchen islands, which are basically a set of two or more of freestanding cabinets.  Kitchen islands often serve as the centerpiece in the kitchen, and often serve multiple functions. Aside from storage, kitchen islands extend the workspace, dining space, and entertainment space. Because they have so many uses, kitchen islands save on space. Designers often refer to kitchens with islands as freestanding kitchens, primarily because freestanding cabinets have a central role in its function and design.

Fixed wall and base cabinets are still very popular as perimeter storage and workspaces, especially in small kitchens. However, the rising demand for freestanding cabinets has prompted manufacturers to produce them as ready to assemble (RTA) or stock products. Mass production has made handcrafted freestanding cabinets more an exception than the rule.

Despite this, freestanding cabinets are still relatively expensive because they require sturdier materials and construction as well as a finish on all panels. Most freestanding cabinets use solid wood for all the panels instead of just the front as in RTA and stock cabinets. The benefits of freestanding kitchen cabinets make the additional investment worth it, however.


diagram of freestanding cabinets

People that choose freestanding cabinets do so primarily because it is a classic, and the retro look is making a strong comeback in the last few years. It also helps that freestanding cabinets are easier to clean because you can get at all sides of them, including under them. This is not possible with standard base cabinets. You can even turn it on its back to get at the insides.

The fact that freestanding cabinets are not fixed means you can move it anywhere you need at any time. It does not even matter whereas all the sides have an attractive finish. It does make it easier to move around if you put in casters with locks instead of legs.

Freestanding also means there is no need to install them. If you purchased a stock cabinet, you only must place it where you need it. If you got one that requires some assembly, then you simply must unpack all the parts and put it together. If you can follow instructions, it is simple enough to do. It could be a fun weekend project for you. If you are building a kitchen island, you can use fasteners to combine two or more of them.

The downside is fewer options in terms of styles and designs are available for freestanding cabinets right now.  You can work with what is available or have one customized to your needs if you have the money for it. Even if you don’t, their rising popularity means that manufacturers will start churning them out in more designs and colors in the future. You just must be patient. 


Freestanding cabinets are just regular cabinets that stand on their own legs (or casters if you prefer). There are many benefits to choosing them over standard base cabinets, especially if you like changing things up a bit in your kitchen from time to time.

However, not all freestanding cabinets are created equal. There come in varying degrees of quality and materials, so you want to make sure you get them from a reliable supplier.

Cabinets City is your best bet in Chicago, Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, Des Plaines, Hoffman Estate, Elk Grove Village, and surrounding areas. Visit our showroom in Mt. Prospect, Illinois to see what we have to offer.

We carry some of the best brands in the country, from RTA to freestanding cabinets, and at the best prices compared to Cabinets To Go and Advance Cabinets. These include Schrock, Fabuwood, J and K, Forevermark, and Wolf Cabinets, each of which come with manufacturer warranties. We always deliver on time, so you will not have to worry about keeping your schedule to stay in budget.

We can advise you on the best cabinets for your bathroom remodel. Give us a call for a free consultation and quote!

Bayram Gulsen

Bayram Gulsen is the owner of Cabinets City. He always had this passion to redefine cabinetry to be at its best along with his dedicated team and the author of Cabinets City blog: You can find Bayram on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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