Open Shelving

Open shelving has been popular for a while. I’ve seen all kinds of shelves used from modern styles to reclaimed wood. Edges can be straight and clean or raw. Brackets can be black, bronze, or not exposed at all. There are endless possibilities. See my Pinterest board for some great photos and ideas.

Open shelves give a kitchen more space because it’s not weighed down with heavy cabinetry. I think a mix of cabinetry, open shelving, and cabinetry with glass faces looks nice. It adds variety and excitement to a kitchen that may seem a bit boring if there are just all the same cabinets. 

A Case Study: My Kitchen

Let’s examine the picture below of my kitchen. In this photo, you can see the glass cabinets I have on the right side. I have four cabinets that have glass faces. The glass isn’t clear, but frosted, which is nice because if it were clear, I’d really try to make what’s inside of the cabinets look nice and staged. But because it’s frosted, I don’t have to worry what’s behind it. I like the glass faces because they add variety to the kitchen. On the left you can see a couple of uppers that are a different style cabinet. Those were added later and are newer cabinets. They aren’t the original cabinetry like the ones on the right. So, I think it would look nice to replace those newer uppers with open shelving. Since they don’t fit the kitchen anyway, it wouldn’t matter if they were gone.

A place for open shelving
A place for open shelving

A Con of Open Shelving

Just remember that you have to think carefully about what you put on your open shelving. On my upper that I’d like to replace with open shelving, I have spices, baking supplies, and cook books in them. I wouldn’t be able to have those things on open shelving. I’d have to put my nice dishes, nicely stacked and staged on the shelves instead because everything on open shelves is out for everyone to see. This is the one downside of open shelving. And it’s the reason I haven’t decided whether or not to install them yet. I also have to think about the wall that is behind the shelves. Currently, it’s wallpapered with paintable wallpaper. I’m sure I’d have to take that down and think about what to do with the wall, so this would end up being a much bigger project than it may be worth. 

Make it a Feature Wall

It is fun to think about the wall behind the open shelving. You could tile it with subway tile, wallpaper it, use bead board, or any other variety of materials and really make the wall a featured piece of art.

How To Get Reclaimed Wood for Cheap

Also note that if you want a reclaimed wood shelving, you’ll pay a steep price. However, on, there are some new shelves that look like reclaimed wood that look perfectly fine and are a fraction of the cost. If you want genuine reclaimed wood, you could try to find someone who has an old barn that they’re trying to demolish…maybe they’d let you take some of their wood.

If you have a couple different cabinet styles like I do in my kitchen, consider replacing one style with open shelving. It adds variety and opens up the space. You can choose from many different styles, woods and brackets to create any kind of look you need from traditional to modern. And maybe it would be nice to have some of your nice dishes displayed openly. Especially if you don’t have a dining room or room in your dining room for a hutch to display your dishes. It could really make your kitchen have a professionally designed look.

    1 Comment

  1. Ron Kesterke March 9, 2020 at 12:37 am

    I would not have noticed different cabinet styles unless you had pointed them out. Open shelves may require more frequent cleaning. I like your kitchen with or without them!