Kitchen island with open shelves – creative storage ideas for any home

by Kremy

white kitchen island with open shelves wood dining table and black chairs

A kitchen island with open shelves is a wonderful opportunity to showcase a collection of cookbooks, combining them with decorative accessories and items. This approach is incredibly popular in modern kitchen designs where the shelves accommodate colorful books which are the element that brings comfort and warmth to the home interior.

When planning the design or the remodeling plan of a kitchen people usually pay attention to proper location of communications, practical facing materials and ergonomic furniture, the convenience and functionality of the room and this is, really, the right way to do it. Before undertaking any repairs, homeowners should have a clear idea for the expected final result and this is especially important for kitchens as they are one of the main rooms in any home. Whether you have a large, open space living area or a small kitchen, you will find some useful ideas in the images below which will help you avoid the common problems associated with lack of storage space.


stylish dark wood kitchen island with seating and open shelving on end


Kitchens vary in size and shape and layouts may be linear, U-shaped, L-shaped, corner, etc. it is the island that anchors the space and becomes a center of functionality. It can perform the functions of a dining table, it can be designed with a stove and a hood above, it can be a place for food preparation, storage space and depending on the individual design concept, this piece of furniture can be used in many different ways. Having a multi-functional island is not a new concept. It originates from the traditions of European kitchens, where several people could sit at the same table at the same time and prepare a large number of dishes without interfering with each other. Even nowadays the same type of organization is used in professional kitchens increasing their level of functionality.

With the development of interior design of modern home kitchens and the open plan concept that combines dining, living room, the island has become one of the centerpieces. It is true that a it is not possible to place a large piece of furniture in a small kitchen, but there are many creative options and there are many creative kitchen island designs that combine work surface, dining area and additional storage space.

Also read: How to Arrange an L-shaped Kitchen 2023 Design? Tips & Ideas

Kitchen island with open shelves – advantages and disadvantages


large kithcen island with open wood shelf minimalist kitchen ideas

Many homeowners prefer not to have a kitchen island as they consider it impractical. In fact, such a piece of furniture can save a lot of space and provides a lot of opportunities for creativity. As a rule, the space under the kitchen island is used for additional storage drawers and cabinets or for built-in appliances, but sometimes open shelves are the best option.

Like any other design solution, a kitchen island with open shelves has its pros and cons. It is true that defining advantages and disadvantages is subjective and strictly individual. For example, using the shelves as an additional storage space, is a great advantage to some kitchen owners and a disadvantage to others. Here are some of the major pros and cons of open shelves:

Unlike kitchen cabinets, which visually reduce the volume of a room, open shelves increase the space and add visual interest. This is of great importance when you have a small kitchen and you want a modern and dynamic design.

One of the major advantages of a kitchen island with open shelves is that you do not need additional space for opening the doors like you do when you have traditional cabinets and drawers, which means that you maximize the available space.

Having in mind that all storage items are in front of your eyes, the time saved on searching for and accessing the necessary kitchen utensils is obvious.

Open shelves are perfectly combined with traditional kitchen cabinets and built-in storage systems and appliances like wine coolers, microwave ovens, stoves, etc.

Open shelves kitchen island rustic interior accents ceiling beams


Beautiful dishes or accessories can be displayed, as if in a shop window, decorating the interior and pleasing the owners.

Open shelving systems are trendy and will add a modern touch even to traditional or rustic interiors. It is a great way to add pops of color to the kitchen décor, for example, by arranging dishes or decorative pieces in bright accent colors.

On the downside of having a kitchen island with open shelves one can point out that open shelves need constant cleaning from dust as they, as well as all the objects placed on them, are quickly covered with dust.

It is not always possible to place large-scale kitchen utensils – household appliances, large dishes on open shelves and there are many housewives would prefer not to show off their dishes and kitchen utensils.

Another disadvantage of kitchen islands with open shelves is that they can be a real mess, especially if you have small children or pets. Obviously, you wouldn’t want clutter and chaos, so in that case it is better to choose cabinets with doors.


How to incorporate a kitchen island with open shelves in different interior designs styles?


contemporary kitchen island with cut in shelves

One of the main rules of interior design in any decor style is that all elements should be chosen to blend and integrate seamlessly into the overall concept and a kitchen island with open shelving is not an exception.

When choosing your island, think of the style of the kitchen – is it modern, is it rustic or craftsman, is your interior decorated in industrial, Shabby chic or minimalist style? This will determine, more or less, the material, the color and the appearance of the island. The position of the open shelves is another very important factor that you need to consider before buying or ordering a custom made island for your kitchen. The shelves can be positioned at the end of the island, at the front and in some cases they can be wrapped around it. This will depend on many factors – the size of the kitchen and the island itself, the position and main functions, etc. Some homeowners prefer a larger working surface, while others opt for kitchen island with seating and use it as a buffet table when entertaining family and visitors. For example, a combination of open shelves and closed cabinets means is a good idea for large kitchen islands while small ones can be designed with side shelves. The facade with shelves can be turned both inside the working area of the kitchen space, and towards the dining or living area, if you have an open plan room.

If there is an island in the kitchen, in most cases it becomes the focal point of the design. In addition to being a comfortable and functional furniture piece, it has a huge decorative role. You can turn the island into a small library and display all your cooking books. With a comfortable armchair and a floor lamp, you will have a cozy reading corner.


kitchen island with shelves on end storage ideas

Think of how you can focus on open shelves in other, less obvious ways. For example, choose a unique way of their use. You can arrange your luxurious collection of wine or firewood logs in baskets, which will be a very exotic solution, an interesting but practical element and a great addition to the decor.

One element that has a very important role for the convenient organization of the kitchen island is the lighting system. It is often overlooked, but the fact that these furniture pieces are usually located in the center of the room and away from the windows determines the importance of additional ceiling lights. The height of the lamps above the kitchen island is selected as per the general level of illumination of the space so that there is enough light, but the lamps should not be too close to the stove or interfere with the working surface.

As a conclusion, we can say, that without any doubt, a kitchen island with open shelves is a great addition to any room and will definitely look great everywhere. You can turn it into a highlight of your interior design and besides having extra storage space, you can use it to display cookbooks, antiques, artisan ceramics, exquisite decorative items, beautiful accessories, sea shells, corals, etc.



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