Freestanding kitchens: 17 flexible ways to create a rustic look

Designing a freestanding kitchen? Get inspired by these lovely ideas

freestanding kitchen in a restored Georgian farmhouse, with a white dresser to the right, a large wooden dining table, a white aga within a blue tiled installed unit, and a wooden larder built into the wall
(Image credit: Future)

Love the look of a freestanding kitchen but not really sure where to start in designing your own? Well, we are here to help, with these tips and ideas that will inspire you to create your own flexible space that is filled with character. 

From what layout to choose, to where to find the best freestanding kitchen units, we have everything you need to create a gorgeous space in this guide. And with a freestanding kitchen, you should have all the space you need for all your essential kitchen appliances – such as your best coffee maker, or your best air fryer

And, if you are after anything else kitchen related, make sure you head over to our kitchen ideas page for more advice and inspiration. 

blue cupboards in freestanding kitchen extension - a 1700s new england farmhouse

(Image credit: John Gruen)

17 freestanding kitchen options

Once you have the practical elements sorted, like the layout you are going for and what you want to include, it's time for the best bit – making it your own. Below we have loads of ideas and inspiration so you can get decorating your freestanding kitchen. And be sure to take a look at our guide for how to design a kitchen, if you're looking for guidance on completing your project.

1. Raid flea markets to furnish a freestanding kitchen

a freestanding kitchen with lots of wooden units, and a wide open white shelving unit on the wall full of jars, a tiled floor and an orange rug under a wooden dining table

(Image credit: Future)

While fitted kitchens might seem like a better use of the space, once you have one, you’re committed to it – and it looks, well, fitted. With freestanding kitchens, the look is more relaxed, more individual, more original, and furniture can be moved around or even replaced if you find something that better suits the space, or as your tastes change. Old homes with their wonky walls can make fitting cabinets more difficult, whereas freestanding furniture works well and can be very adaptable.

Lending themselves to vintage furniture and flea market finds, freestanding kitchens can be a cost effective way of redesigning a kitchen and creating the perfect space. Flea markets often have some hidden gems, so they are a fantastic place to start when building your freestanding kitchen.

If you’re a fan of DIY or craft, you could also really make the project your own by upcycling furniture that you already own and repurposing it for your lifestyle. If all your vintage finds need a lick of paint, have a read through our step-by-step guide to painting furniture - or, if it's a matter of restoring old wooden furniture, we've got a guide for that too. 

2. Design your freestanding kitchen to suit your needs

a stunning white kitchen with darker accents, including a dark table in the middle with a wooden top, and a marble fireplace to the right, with wood parquet flooring

(Image credit: Neptune)

A freestanding kitchen is very easy to design yourself. Some people will opt for a few fitted units, and supplement the kitchen with freestanding pieces – such as freestanding kitchen islands – over time. This is a great way to spread the cost over time, if you're designing a stylish kitchen on a budget.

If you do design your own freestanding kitchen, try an online tool to organize the space as accurately as possible. Be sure to measure the space thoroughly beforehand, including where doors and windows are located.

Consider how the room is going to be used, too – is it a space for entertaining as well as cooking in? It’s also a good idea to write a wishlist of priorities, highlighting which aspects of the kitchen are most important.

3. Know what to include in a freestanding kitchen

a wooden, country-style freestanding kitchen, with a tall boy, a wooden island full of ingredients and tote bags, and a lack age in the distance, on a tiled black floor with a huge rug

(Image credit: Laura Ashley)

Before assembling your freestanding kitchen, think about what kind of units you actually need.

Larders are becoming the mainstay of a freestanding design, to add to the traditional ‘cook’s kitchen’ feel. Companies are adapting these to include hideaway storage areas for kettles and toasters, for clutter-free worktops, or even fitting them with marble surfaces inside for pastry making or as hidden food preparation areas.

Vintage Welsh dressers are perfect if you have a big enough space. The shelves can be used to display your favorite kitchenware, while the cupboards provide space to hide away clutter. 

Open shelving or plate racks can be added elsewhere for additional freestanding kitchen storage. Wood is a classic choice, but stainless steel versions create a low-maintenance, industrial look.

A moveable kitchen island or butcher’s block can be used to increase workspace as needed. When prepping food, a surface that can be moved from the sink to cooker can be very useful, as opposed to an installed kitchen island.

Accessories in freestanding kitchens include towel rails and chopping board trays, cleverly stored on kitchen island units. Wine racks are popular, too, to make this area of the room more of a hub for entertaining instead of being purely functional.

4. Go for country cottage charm in a freestanding kitchen 

a woman and a dog standing in a free standing kitchen with exposed brick wall, a sloped ceiling with wood beams, and a dark wood floor

With their awkward angles and uneven walls, country cottages can benefit from freestanding kitchen cabinets which can be easily positioned to make the most of the space. Antique wooden pieces with their time-worn patina are a great complement to rustic timber beams and stone walls. 

Love this kitchen? You are going to love more of our traditional country kitchen ideas.  

5. Display on open kitchen shelves

White rustic cupboards in a free standing kitchen with freestanding open shelving, full of glasses, mugs, jugs and kettles

(Image credit: National Trust)

 If you prefer fitted cabinetry, but like the relaxed look of an unfitted kitchen, a great compromise is to have fitted base cabinets, but to replace fitted wall cabinets with open shelving. Not only will shelves help enhance the feeling of space, they are a great place to display cookwareware and pretty ceramics.

If you are after more kitchen storage ideas though, go and have a read through our feature. 

6. Add texture with a real wood design

A rustic island unit made from salvaged oak beams, fused with hand-welded metalwork in a large kitchen with white cabinets

(Image credit: Clayton Cabinets)

Chunky real wood design furniture is ideal for a freestanding kitchen, as it will add texture and a quality feel to your kitchen, whether the rest of the items are also wooden or not.

In fact, adding traditional wooden pieces to a freestanding kitchen full of more modern items can create a really unique juxtaposition, as above.

7. Invest in a kitchen dresser

freestanding kitchen in a restored Georgian farmhouse, with a white dresser to the right, a large wooden dining table, a white aga within a blue tiled installed unit, and a wooden larder built into the wall

Thought to date back to the 17th century, the classic Welsh dresser has become a mainstay in freestanding kitchens, as mentioned above. 

A timeless piece, it's worth investing in either a good quality antique version or new handmade version which will stand the test of time and can be passed down the generations. While the base cabinets and drawers offer ample kitchen storage for crockery and cutlery, the open shelves are ideal for displaying treasured pieces. 

If it's farmhouse kitchens you love, check out our dedicated feature full of swoon worthy ideas. 

8. Go open-plan for a spacious freestanding kitchen

Open-plan freestanding kitchen, with an aga to the left, a white smeg fridge to the right, a built in gray and wood unit at the back and a freestanding island, behind a seating area with lots of decorative colorful pillows

A mixture of stand-alone appliances and just two freestanding units helps create an open-plan kitchen that feels spacious; the homeowners in the image above cleverly created extra storage by converting a cupboard into a larder and choosing multi-functional bench box.  

9. Add a freestanding kitchen island

Free standing kitchen furniture in an cream and wood kitchen, and a giant wooden clock to the right, with hanging lights over the island

(Image credit: Colin Poole)

Whether your kitchen is fitted or freestanding, a moveable kitchen island is a great piece. A brilliant way to zone social and cooking spaces, they can be repositioned when extra space is needed, plus create extra workspace. Get more inspiration with our kitchen island ideas.

10. Make the most of an awkward space in a freestanding kitchen  

freestanding kitchen in a Victorian cottage, with a white dining table in the center, and open shelving full of kitchenware around a small fireplace

If you live in a old cottage, your home is likely to be filled with nooks and crannies that run the risk of becoming dusty, dead space. These areas are ideal for freestanding kitchens, because you can use these spaces to slot in a small cupboard or place a tall dresser behind a door. If part of your kitchen is fitted, you can even paint your freestanding furniture to match, or leave it bare to create a rustic contrast.

Have a snoop around these charming cottages for more ideas. 

11. Use kitchenware to create a display 

a rustic freestanding kitchen, with a giant orange aga, lots of freestanding units storing food and pots and pans, and a hanging rack full of pots and pans - with a purple and white tiled floor and exposed brick walls

Kitchen storage doesn’t have to mean cupboards. You spend money on pots and pans, so why not have them on display? Create a rustic-style farmhouse kitchen by storing them on wooden tables with extra shelving underneath, or hang them in attractive displays on wall hooks. This will save on space, and your pots and pans will be closer to hand when you’re cooking too.

12. Introduce the butcher’s block to a freestanding kitchen

a wooden traditional butchers block with a basket full of veg on top of it, and a floating shelf above with glassware on it

An old butcher’s block is the ideal item of furniture for a freestanding kitchen with a rustic or industrial feel. Butchers’ blocks can stand as an island in the middle of the room, or create another worktop or preparation area when pushed up against the wall. Paired with a couple of tall bar stools, they can even be used as a smart little breakfast table if you want.

a period kitchen with a white aga and gray kitchen units, with a white butchers block i the middle sat on the gray tiled floor

(Image credit: Colin Poole)

You could also paint an old butcher's block the same color as your kitchen cabinets to give it a more cohesive feel, almost like a built in island. We love the pale sage green of this block; try Farrow and Ball's Vert De Terre if you are after something similar. Make sure you take a tour of the rest of this gorgeous former mill keeper’s house for loads more inspiration. 

13. Wall mount cabinets in freestanding kitchens

a freestanding kitchen full of wooden furniture, including a wooden cabinet fixed to the wall, a chest of drawers to the left, a butcher's block in the middle, and an aga inside a fitted wooden kitchen unit, with tea towels hanging from a ceiling rail above

(Image credit: Darren Chung)

If you are lucky enough to have a period home with lofty high ceilings, then wall mounted plate wracks, individual cabinets and sheila maids mixed in with fixed cabinetry is a great way to make the most of your space and give your kitchen a flexible feel. 

14. Choose a contemporary industrial style in a freestanding kitchen 

a freestanding kitchen in a converted brewery - with stainless steel units and oven to the right, a hanging pot rack on the wall, a black wall to the left with a butcher's block and a small fridge, and white wooden beams in the ceiling

Whether you’re looking for a modern decorating scheme, or trying to add a modern touch to your period home, reclaimed industrial furniture is the perfect way to add character to any space. With a freestanding kitchen like this you can mix antiques and modern additions seamlessly. If it doesn’t work, you can simply move the units around until it does.

For more industrial style kitchen ideas check out our gallery. 

15. Mix and match old and new kitchen furniture

a big traditional kitchen with white units, two blue freestanding dressers, a large wooden dining table in the middle and a beige tiled floor

Pairing fitted cabinetry with a few upcycled freestanding units is a great way to add a touch of unique style. Try refreshing ornate old dressers with chalky furniture paint in a contrasting color, as done here. And if you need any tips on how to paint kitchen cabinets, we've got a easy to follow step-by-step guide. 

16. Small kitchen? You can still go freestanding 

a small freestanding kitchen, with mostly white units, wooden beams on the ceiling, a small dining table and a small white fridge

If you’ve only got a small kitchen, the obvious choice would be to maximize on space with fitted units, but this doesn’t allow for flexibility. Instead, a few well chosen, expertly placed freestanding kitchen cabinets can be a really clever use of the space. Make sure you’ve got room for everything you need, and if you find that there isn’t enough, just swap out a unit for something more useful.

For more tips of on designing a small kitchen have a read through our dedicated feature. 

17. Choose a practical freestanding larder

a wooden pantry/larder with doors painted in chalk paint, with food items written on them and food inside the cupboard, and a window to the right

(Image credit: Benjamin Moore)

A well-stocked pantry is what kitchen dreams are made of. But you don't need to fork out a load of money for a bespoke, fitted version. If you think about it, a pantry is just a glorified cupboard with some spices and tins in it, so really any cupboard can technically become a pantry. Choose a lovely vintage one with a few shelves (trawl eBay for a bargain), fill it with food and, just like that – you have a pantry. 

We've got lots of practical pantry storage ideas too, to make sure you make the most of that covetable larder. 

Inspired to create your freestanding kitchen? Keep reading...

Pippa is Style Editor for Period Living magazine and spends many a weekend exploring the Cotswolds for decorating shoot ideas. A collector at heart, she is currently looking for a vintage cabinet to store her favourite wares.