An Open and Shut Case at 2018 Salone Milan

By Jamie Gold


Open and closed storage may be the perfect blend for a kitchen you both love.

Photo: Scavolini

You’re a neat freak. Your significant other is — well, let’s just say, not a neat freak. Is there hope for you two lovebirds enjoying a happy — and organized — nest life? Thankfully, yes. Harmony is possible, at least in the kitchen and bathroom, and it comes from European cabinetry designers.

They were displaying their concepts and cabinets at the 2018 Salone del Mobile Milan, one of the world’s largest design industry trade shows. Imagine the Detroit Auto Show crashing into a gigantic home show and you have a sense of the scope of this event. (The entire Salone expo is 24 exhibit halls. Kitchen and bath fill up six of them.)

Two of the show’s hottest trends could be perfect for you and your beloved: 1) completely open storage that puts the neatnik’s dishes, pots, pans and cooking gear on handsome display, and 2) completely closed storage that hides the non-neatnik’s messiness behind closeable doors. It’s a match made in HomLuv heaven.

Hidden Kitchens

Appliances, fixtures and storage tuck away behind doors in "hidden kitchens." Photo courtesy of Valucine.

In“hidden kitchens,” everything including storage, sink and appliances disappears behind doors when not in use. This is perfect for small condos where you don’t have a ton of living space. It’s also perfect for someone who hates clutter. The doors can be stylish woods, lacquers, metallics or ribbed glass that lets in light but hides contents.

Italian and German companies are the leaders in designing these hidden kitchen concepts, probably because their homes tend to be smaller than ours. Both are great at style and engineering, which is helpful when you’re talking about long, heavy doors. Without a smooth, easy operating mechanism, a petite homeowner would have a very difficult time opening and closing a five- or eight-foot-wide wall cabinet.

European cabinets are chock full of storage organizers, from racks along built-in backsplashes to luxurious drawer partitions made of handsome walnut or sleek steel.

Ultra-Open Kitchens

If you want everything within easy reach and eyesight, you will love the kitchens where you can see all your pots, pans and utensils and grab them quickly while whipping up fabulous meals. Hopefully you are the neat one in the relationship, or there’s probably going to be plenty of heated discussion around cleanup. (In all fairness, though, the person who does most of the cooking should get to choose how the kitchen is equipped and arranged.)

These kitchens often feature open shelves for cookware near the cooktop and dishes and glasses near the sink and dishwasher. Some storage is below the counter, some ceiling-mounted and some rising from the countertop. Open island storage (both on risers and ceiling mounts) was especially popular at Salone, but may be hard for a smaller chef to reach.

Wall-mounted open storage was also on display at the show. There are already similar offerings in the U.S. for backsplashes, but some of these systems were designed for entire walls. One Italian company featured a chef-designed modular offering similar to the track-based storage that garage companies provide (but much more stylish), that included everything from wine racks to herb planters.

Open and Shut Bathroom Storage

There are plenty of items you don’t want on display in the bathroom, even to your beloved. Closed bathroom storage will always be in demand and there were beautiful vanities to choose from in Milan.

Some of the ingenious offerings even let you hide items like toilet brushes and toilet paper in closeable, pull-out wall niches. It’s nice not having to take up floor or cabinet space, while taking advantage of otherwise wasted wall inches.

For those investing in luxurious face creams and perfumes, open wall storage designed for the bathroom may be appealing. You can even use one of the niches for pottery, plants or a bud vase. Your non-neat significant other might owe you a few flowers after leaving a large kitchen mess.

Last Words

For many couples, a combination of open and closed storage is the perfect pairing. As in love, the key to successful kitchens and baths is often compromise.
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Jamie Gold, CKD, CAPS, MCTWC is a wellness design consultant, Certified Kitchen Designer and the author of the New Bathroom Idea Book and New Kitchen Ideas That Work, (Taunton Press). Jamie can be found online at

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