Open kitchen shelves add a fresh and visually pleasing look to your design

by Kremy

Open kitchen shelves add variety to the furniture and make it look lighter. They can be used to showcase elegant dishes or interesting colorful mugs or plates. They can also be a place to store items that we most often use in the kitchen – for example, spices, pans or cookbooks. Shelves can make an interesting composition by themselves and, thus, become a decorative element. For the last years installing open shelves in the kitchen has been a fashionable trend in interior design. This design technique is used by both professionals and homeowners of apartments and private houses. Open shelves can be used as a replacement for kitchen cabinets or become their effective complement. They they can act not only as storage systems, but also as a decorative element of a modern interior.

Open kitchen shelves add a fresh and visually pleasing look to your design

Affordability, practicality and simplicity of installation allowed open shelves to become an almost universal design solution for kitchen interiors in a wide variety of styles. It is easy to imagine open shelves in a modern kitchen, in a rustic styled interior and even in designs in difficult styles like minimalism and classic. Many people wonder what is more convenient and functional – cabinets or kitchen shelves? If you have doubts whether to replace your upper cabinets with open shelves or not, this article may be of help. We shall give you some useful ideas how to arrange the furniture in the kitchen correctly and achieve a harmonious look and how to combine practicality and aesthetics.

Pros and cons of open kitchen shelving

white exposed brick wall open shelving Scandinavian kitchen ideas


Like any other design decision, open shelves in the interior of the kitchen have its pros and cons. But at the same time, it is obvious that all disadvantages and advantages are purely subjective and individual. Many experts believe that open shelves are much more appropriate in the interior of a modern kitchen than classic cabinets. Such a functional detail looks interesting and fresh and allows you to add visual appeal to the interior by using various small details – candles, jars, plates and various boxes. Let’s have a look at the advantages of open kitchen shelves:

kitchen remodel ideas cabinets and open shelves

  • Unlike kitchen cabinets, which significantly reduce the visual volume of a room, open shelves visually increase in space which makes such design solution an ideal choice for small kitchen spaces.
  • In addition to the fact that the shelves themselves take up little space, you do not need to have space for opening doors, as is the case with kitchen cabinets.
  • Considering that all storage items are in front of your eyes, it is obvious that you save time on searching and accessing necessary kitchen utensils.
  • Open shelves are perfectly combined with hanging kitchen cabinets and built-in storage systems.

modern kitchen open shelving home interior design

  • Kitchen shelves can be used as display cases and you can put your favorite china, a collection of cups or plates, potted flowers, kitchen books and other things dear to the heart. Your beautiful dishes or accessories are in sight, as if in a store window, decorating the interior and give it originality and personality.
  • Another advantage of open kitchen shelves is that they are mobile and, if necessary, you can change their position or completely remove them.
  • Kitchen shelves can be made of different materials, depending on the style in which the kitchen itself is designed. The most popular options are shelves made of wood, laminate, glass, iron or even plastic.
  • The affordable price is another huge advantage. Shelves will cost significantly cheaper than cabinets with the same horizontal surface area. This is a great solution if you have a limited budget and will help you avoid unnecessary expenses.

geometric kitchen with wooden open shelves

What are the disadvantages of open shelves? Along with the great number of advantages, kitchen shelves have some disadvantages.

  • Maintenance – this is a serious consideration. Kitchens with open top shelves require constant cleaning. A lot of dust accumulates on the kitchen shelves, which is mixed with grease. They are constantly in sight, so you need to constantly wipe the dust there and clean all utensils and decorative accessories from it.
  • Another important consideration is the fact that sometimes kitchen shelves can be difficult to integrate into an already installed cabinetry. Therefore, before buying shelves, think about how you will combine all the details of the kitchen set with each other. The best option is to order an individual project.

open shelves ideas black kitchen design ideas

  • It is not always possible to arrange large-scale items or kitchen utensils – household appliances, large dishes.
  • Mess – this is another negative factor. When you opt for open shelving, you need to maintain perfect order. Many people load the shelves with too many items which creates a feeling of disorder and chaos. In order not to overload the interior, place items that combine with each other – flowers, figurines, candlesticks and other beautiful accessories. It is a good idea to buy identical pots or containers.

Types of open kitchen shelves and how to choose the best one for your home

Types of open kitchen shelves and how to choose the best one

There are various options for open shelves – wall mounted, floating, box shelves, built-in, with different brackets, suspended, corner, curved, hanging, etc.

wall mounted floating shelves kitchen storage ideas

One of the most popular options for open storage systems is the use of conventional shelves that are fixed directly to the walls. Shelves can be matched to the color of the lower kitchen cabinets or contrast them. Very often shelves are matched with the color and texture of countertops. This design option harmoniously fits into almost any stylistic design of the kitchen.

Fixed bracket shelves kitchen renovation ideas

Fixed bracket shelves are perhaps the oldest type of shelves. With the help of special support brackets, it is possible not only to make shelves stronger, which means to increase the maximum load bearing, but also decorate them. Fasteners can be made of the same material as the shelves themselves or differ not only in material but also in style. For example, wrought iron brackets will look original with wooden shelves and also add a special charm to the interior.

Suspended shelves kitchen shelving systems ideas

Suspended shelves fixed on the ceiling are another option. It is not always possible to fasten open shelves to the walls of the kitchen. In this case, you can use special structures mounted to the ceiling. In addition to the original appearance, the structures have a sufficiently high strength and can experience high loads. The drawback of such a fastening is that it is necessary to drill the surface of the ceiling.

Built in shelves are hugely popular and highly functional

Built-in shelves are hugely popular and highly functional. They provide quite an amount of storage space. This is the ideal way to utilize niches or other architectural features of the room. Built-in shelves in niches are an excellent opportunity not only to use the available space to the maximum, but also to add visual interest and individuality to the kitchen design.

Corner shelves are an ideal kitchen storage solution

Corner shelves are an ideal solution that uses this difficult space. This type of design will maximize the effective use of the space. Corner shelves come in a wide variety of styles and designs and you will surely find the best one to complement the style of your kitchen. There are adjustable ones which can fit in different areas.In some cases you may need to order your shelves as an individual project which will affect the cost.

Open shelves as a part of the cabinetry kitchen design ideas

Open shelves as a part of the cabinetry – unlike ordinary open shelves, this type of shelving is essentially the same as kitchen cabinets, but without facades. Depending on the size of the kitchen and the chosen style of decoration, racks with open shelves can be placed instead of the upper cabinets.

Kitchen island with shelves open shelving ideas

Kitchen island with shelves – this is a great solution if you have the space to place an island. The shelves can be placed on one of its sides, depending on the shape of the island. The facade with shelves can be turned both inside towards the working area or towards the dining or living room zone.

Free standing kitchen shelves storage solutions and furniture ideas

Free-standing kitchen shelves are not mounted or fixed to any surface. The market offers numerous designs, sizes and shapes – some models are combined with drawers or doors and feature both open and closed storage sections.

asymmetrical shelves cabinets and wine coolers kitchen furniture ideas

Stylish and modern, asymmetrical shelves also look great. Such a detail will complement Scandinavian style or high-tech style interiors and they will definitely attract attention with their unusual appearance.

open kitchen shelving ideas types materials

In terms of material wood and glass are the most popular materials for open kitchen shelves. Wood is durable, strong, reliable and adds tons of charm to any interior. In addition, wood is easily combined with any other material – from ceramic tile to stainless steel. The market offers wide variety of options – plywood, particleboard, soid wood (live edge open shelving looks magnificent), engineered wood, which is gaining popularity, etc. Reclaimed wood also enjoys a great deal of popularity for the incredible character and beauty.

kitchen design ideas open glass shelves

Glass shelves, as we mentioned above, are often the choice of designers when kitchen shelving is in front of windows. Yes, as far as durability and load bearing properties are concerned, glass is nowhere near wood yet people like it for its visual appeal.

kitchen design furniture ideas floating stainless steel kitchen shelves

Steel and metal shelves are the perfect complement to industrial styled, contemporary and rustic interiors. Unlike wood and glass shelves, metal ones are easily maintained and can bear a significant amount of load.

Where to hang open shelves in your kitchen?

pros and cons of open kitchen shelving

Open kitchen shelves look beautiful and stylish but can be problematic. It is not enough to just choose the option that suits the interior of the room. It is also necessary to place them correctly. This is especially difficult if you already have kitchen cabinets because shelves should not break the harmonious look.

First of all, you have to decide where your shelves will be located. Remember that they will attract a lot of attention especially when the kitchen is connected to the living room or dining area. In this case, the shelves can be placed at the junction of the two zones. Thus, they will be simultaneously perceived both as a functional part and as a decoration of space.

open shelves above the sink kitchen cabinets and shelving ideas

Placing the shelves above the sink is a good option and allows you to replace the traditional cabinet. Make sure that anything that you place on the shelves is resistant to moisture as all items shall be exposed to humidity from the sink. However, this is the ideal place for houseplants. Optionally, shelves can be placed on both sides of the sink.

kitchen shelves in front of the windows

Shelves across windows – this is a growing trend over the last years. Usually, people choose glass shelves that will not block the natural light but it is not unusual to see wood shelves overlap windows.

open shelves around the range hood modern home design ideas

Shelves around the range hood – this is a good option for people who like to cook and spend a lot of time at the cook-top. They can easily get spices, utensils or anything they need for food preparation. However, the fact hat all items placed in proximity to the range will be a subject to dust and grease must not be overlooked.

Kitchen shelves can be used as display cases

Of course, you should not use open shelves throughout the kitchen. You can hang a moderate number of shelves – one or two – which will successfully replace wall cabinets and solve the problem of cluttering up the space.



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