How To Style Your Open Kitchen Shelving

Open kitchen shelving is an interior design trend that will always feel new. If you have kitchen shelves and you’re looking for a new theme, you should learn how to style your open kitchen shelving. Regarding versatility and ease, nothing compares to open kitchen shelves.

Open Kitchen Shelving

Open Kitchen Shelving

As a mainstay trend, open kitchen shelving will remain a popular theme for kitchens of all styles. Time has shown that history favors open shelving over covered cabinetry.

What Is The History Around Open Shelving Kitchen

Open kitchen shelving began in the early 30s in the US. It was during the Great Depression when home kitchens chose open shelves over covered cabinets. Then, it wasn’t about style but convenience. Open shelving offers easy and quick access to tableware. 

The Most Common Kitchen Shelf Ideas

If you have a small kitchen an open shelf design would add space and style to your kitchen. For example, open corner shelves would provide you with more storage. You might have a few items that you’re proud of and want to show off to your guests. Even a vintage wine bottle or an antique wine decanter would look nice perched on an open corner shelf. 

Modern rustic or industrial chic are popular with larger kitchens. 

Kitchen Wall Shelves

Kitchen Wall Shelves

Kitchen Wall ShelvesView in gallery

Kitchen wall shelves add space and provide storage. Cantilevered open shelves or horizontal stack open shelving are both good choices for showcasing your antique tableware or china soup bowls.  There are also floating or wall-mounted shelves, and both are affordable options and easy to install. 

If you choose floating kitchen shelves, make sure they’re right for your kitchen. If you going for a linear setup, then the shelf style will complement your kitchen design. The only problem that homeowners have had is with dust. With your tableware out in the open, it will accumulate dust just like everything else in your home. 

Small Kitchen Shelf

Small Kitchen Shelf

Small Kitchen ShelfView in gallery

A small kitchen shelf is a blessing and an opportunity to explore your creative design abilities. You don’t have to go overboard on this one. If you’re looking for a DIY kitchen project, then making a small kitchen shelf will be good practice for when you get a larger kitchen.

If you have a small window space, design short kitchen curtains to go with your small kitchen shelf.  

Corner Open Shelving Kitchen

Corner Open Shelving Kitchen

Corner Open Shelving KitchenView in gallery

You can’t beat the convenience of a corner-open shelving kitchen. The shelves are cheaper than anything else you’ll find. They also provide added storage space.  You don’t have to put plates or cups on the shelves. You can reserve the space for special photos or artwork. 

Modern Open Shelving Kitchen

Modern Open Shelving Kitchen

Modern Open Shelving KitchenView in gallery

You can create modern open shelves with metal, wood, or glass. The idea is about finding a mixture and balance. And like the other open-shelf styles, they’re cheaper.
If you like informal and formal at the same time then this modern kitchen shelf approach will stimulate your kitchen and add a touch of metropolitan chic to your cooking space.

Farmhouse Open Shelving Kitchen

Farmhouse Open Shelving Kitchen

Farmhouse Open Shelving KitchenView in gallery

A farmhouse open shelving kitchen is hot due to the cottage core trend that’s emerging in US households. If you want your kitchen to have a rustic or ranch feel, then this shelf style will fit right in with your country decor. 

How To Install Kitchen Shelves

How To Install Kitchen Shelves

How To Install Kitchen ShelvesView in gallery

Installing kitchen shelves requires experience. If you have a large kitchen, you’ll need a local interior contractor to do the job. If you have an expensive kitchen, you wouldn’t want to cut corners on a cheap shelf installation job.

However, if you want to install two floating open shelves, you might be able to do it yourself depending on the wall surface where you want to install them. After you select your shelves, you would buy four to six shelving brackets, which aren’t cheap. Shelving brackets come with hanging guides that explain how to attach them to a wall. Other than that, you would need, which most people already have. 

If you’re installing shelves on drywall, you will need drywall anchors to attach the shelving to the wall. 

The Best Open Kitchen Shelving Styles For Your Space

Open shelving naysayers wouldn’t dare jump on this kitchen trend. There are ways to style open kitchen shelves to blend with your home and living.

Here are 35 open kitchen style shelves for you to enjoy or choose for your next kitchen:

1. Consider Your Color Palette For Open Shelving

Consider Your Color Palette For Open Shelving

Consider Your Color Palette For Open ShelvingView in gallery

Whether you’re styling throw pillows on your couch, your mantel decor, or your holiday table settings, you always think about your color palette first thing. Whatever you put on on them, everyone can see so it will help if the colors blend well. You can use white vintage corbels to accent your kitchen and shelves. 

2. Give Neutral A Try

Give Neutral A Try

Give Neutral A TryView in gallery

Neutral palettes are a great place to start with open kitchen shelving. White dishes, wooden cutting boards, and creamy or clear canisters provide a color palette that is easy to switch for special occasions or when you get bored.

3. Add A Splash Of Bright Color

open shelving kitchen ideas

open shelving kitchen ideas View in gallery

Modern kitchens look good in white but all white and clear can be boring. Treat yourself to some eye candy in the form of a set of brightly colored bowls, or blue antique corbels to display a soup pot. Just a smidge of color will help your shelving feel friendly instead of stark.

4. Try Dual Tones

modern open shelving kitchen

modern open shelving kitchenView in gallery

Looking to achieve color and calm at the same time? Go for the dual tone look. This works well with pastels. When your shelving is full of white and pale blue, it eases the eye more than collected dishes will but your shelves won’t look stark and modern in your farmhouse kitchen.

5. Embrace Mixed Metals

rustic open kitchen shelves

rustic open kitchen shelvesView in gallery

It’s inevitable that you will have some mixed metals among your kitchen gadgets. Consider bringing them out for display instead of hiding them away. Copper, brass, and stainless steel can be a lovely sparkly combination when you put them together.

6. Style Your Metal

what to put on open kitchen shelves

what to put on open kitchen shelvesView in gallery

If mixing metals hurts your eyes, there is nothing wrong with choosing one. Accents of gold can bring the bling to your kitchen shelving. Copper feels old and storied while stainless steel is modern and clean. Decide what kind of feel you’re going for first and style your metal from there.

7. Mix Textures

how to decorate open kitchen shelves

how to decorate open kitchen shelvesView in gallery

When you’re styling out your bookshelf or your couch, you think about both color and texture to bring depth to your space. Open shelving can work that way too. By adding a basket, a marble serving platter, and a wooden bowl, you bring together different textures instead of one flat ceramic look.

8. Always Add Plants

Open shelving live lants

Open shelving live lantsView in gallery

When in doubt, add plants. This is a universal decorating rule for all surfaces. They are the perfect opportunity for something viney and trailing that will bring depth to your shelves.

9. Mount Art Work

Open shelving with exposed brackets

Open shelving with exposed bracketsView in gallery

With cantilever open shelves, art is another display option. A piece of art on an open shelf will give you something nice to look at while you cook or clean. It will also make your open shelves chic and Instagram-ready.

10. Place Antiques

Floating shelves on the kitchen

Floating shelves on the kitchenView in gallery

Working on open shelving in your DIY farmhouse kitchen? You can go antique shopping, which is an adventure. Vintage plate racks and antique shelf corbels would enliven your kitchen. Look for things that are useful so you aren’t filling your shelves with clutter.

11. Use Non-Conventional Decorations

Marble kitchen backsplash and open shelving

Marble kitchen backsplash and open shelvingView in gallery

Open shelving isn’t for dishes and glassware. Fill empty spots with candlesticks or cookbooks or wooden bowls. Decorate as much as you store for a well-rounded set of open shelves. {found on amberinteriordesign}.

12. Play With Patterns

Honeycomb tiny tiles for backsplash

Honeycomb tiny tiles for backsplashView in gallery

One super simple way to take your open shelves from a modern masterpiece to family-friendly is to add a pattern. Colored glasses with designs will be a fun addition to your shelves. Maybe some patterned bowls for ice cream. Opt for something that will make you and the kids smile, on and off the shelves.

13. Feel Free To Personalize

Feel Free To Personalize The kitchen shelves

Feel Free To Personalize The kitchen shelvesView in gallery

One of the best things about eclectic decorating is the permission to skip the rules and do what feels good to you. Fill your shelves with your favorite dishes, DIY storage, and that candlestick you bought in Iceland. Make your open shelves a place of joy in your kitchen.

14. Vary The Heights Of Your Decor

Open shelving height variations

Open shelving height variationsView in gallery

Whether you’re designing modern shelving or putting together an eclectic beauty, you always want to vary the height of what you have on display. Rows of dishes, all the same height is okay for storage but interest requires making the eye move up and down over your collection.

15. Change Your Décor With The Holidays

Open shelving seasonal greenery

Open shelving seasonal greeneryView in gallery

Don’t forget to change up your open shelving seasonally! Add some evergreen boughs for Christmastime. Display a pumpkin in the Fall. Bring out your lemonade pitcher in Summer. Switch out vases of flowers in Spring. Make your shelving reflect the seasonal decor in the rest of your home.

16. Storage Solution

Open shelving glasses storage

Open shelving glasses storageView in gallery

Sometimes open shelving is for storage, due to the size of the kitchen.  Line up your drink ware on your open shelves for easy access while cocktail making or hot chocolate sipping. Clear glassware will keep things from seeming too cluttered even if you’ve filled all the space on your shelves.

17. Fill Big Glass Jars

Open shelving glass jar storage

Open shelving glass jar storageView in gallery

Need a spot to store snacks and baking supplies? Line your open shelves with big glass jars. Farmhouse kitchens in particular will benefit from this kind of storage, filling empty wall space in the kitchen in a practical yet beautiful way.

18. Hang Items From Hooks

Open shelving hooks underneath

Open shelving hooks underneathView in gallery

Open shelving isn’t just a surface for storage. Use hooks underneath to double your space! Hang your mugs or cooking utensils or small pots and pans. It’s the perfect solution for small kitchens.

19. Put Your Corners To Work

Open shelving wrap corner

Open shelving wrap cornerView in gallery

Many times, it’s strange for open shelving to span just one wall. Don’t be afraid to turn the corner. Unlike cabinetry, where things that get pushed into dark corners are never seen again, corners in open shelving just provide a spot for maybe a bigger pot or pitcher.

20. Don’t Forget Light Fixtures

Open shelving sconce lighting

Open shelving sconce lightingView in gallery

Whether your kitchen is modern or rustic, or cluttered or clean, with one shelf or all shelving, consider adding sconces as a final touch. They’ll help you light up the darkest corners of your kitchen and highlight your beautiful open shelf styling against your kitchen cabinets.

21. Avoid Overcrowding

Avoid Overcrowding

Avoid OvercrowdingView in gallery

Just as empty open kitchen shelving will look a bit strange, so too will your shelves look strange if they are overloaded with items. Try to keep them clear of clutter, because if items are overcrowded, this may make your kitchen look smaller, even with the open cabinet design. If you have a small space such as this one featured in Small Space Designer, you can still get the most out of your shelving without piling them full of items by being organized and selective of the items you place.

22. Design Your Shelves With Mirrors

Design Your Shelves With Mirrors

Design Your Shelves With MirrorsView in gallery

Everyone knows adding mirrors is the best way to make any small place seem bigger. Thus, if you have a small kitchen and are looking at open kitchen shelving to make it seem bigger, don’t hesitate to install mirrors above and below the shelves. You can also give your mirror a rustic look like this one featured in Architectural Digest for kitchens seeking a more rustic feel while still wanting to embrace the room expansion benefits of mirrors.

23. Decorate The Area Underneath

Decorate The Area Underneath

Decorate The Area UnderneathView in gallery

Open kitchen shelving may be saving you space, but this doesn’t mean you need to leave the area underneath your shelves barren. Consider leaning a wooden cutting board against the wall or possibly placing your glass jars here. Or if you use live herbs in your kitchen, this could be a great spot for these as well. In this kitchen by Pardon My French Blog, the area underneath the open shelving is used for appliances.

24. Display Your Collection

Display Your Collection

Display Your CollectionView in gallery

For those struggling to fill their open kitchen shelving, this is a great time to put something you may collect to use! Do you have shot glasses from all over the world? Arrange them on a higher shelf! Or maybe you have a bunch of small animal figurines, these could go on your shelves as well! Omenga PLC features a beautiful kitchen in which an old bottle collection is featured on the top shelf with a mixture of plants for a rustic look.

25. Check Your Shelves From A Distance

Check Your Shelves From A Distance

Check Your Shelves From A DistanceView in gallery

One of the most crucial things to remember as you go through the process of setting up and decorating your spacious open kitchen shelves is to step back and see how your shelves look from a distance. This can help you maintain balance and symmetry, especially when you have longer shelves, or two sections of shelves like in this kitchen on Just Organized. This way you can avoid an uneven look or feel in your kitchen.

26. Make A Pantry With Open Shelves

Make A Pantry With Open Shelves 2

Make A Pantry With Open Shelves 2View in gallery

Have you fallen in love with open shelving yet? Beyond just the traditional open kitchen shelving which goes above your counter space, you may also want to consider creating a pantry with the open shelving system. This will make it much easier to find the exact ingredients when you need them! In Jen Loves Kev open shelving was used to make a pantry out of an unused wall in the kitchen.

27. Remove Cabinet Doors

Remove Cabinet Doors

Remove Cabinet DoorsView in gallery

If you are reading this article and are disappointed because your kitchen is still outfitted with regular kitchen cabinets, don’t fret! You can easily create open shelving out of your existing cabinets by removing the doors and sprucing up the inside with a paint job. The owners of this kitchen in Perfectly Imperfect Blog did just that, making their kitchen more modern and you can’t tell they weren’t open style shelving in the first place.

28. Start With A Few Small Shelves

Start With A Few Small Shelves

Start With A Few Small ShelvesView in gallery

Maybe you aren’t ready to take the leap into a kitchen full of open shelving just yet. And this is okay, you can start small with a few well-placed shelves in a place where you need more shelving but there isn’t room for a full cabinet. In Cabinet City, the owners of this kitchen enjoy three extra shelves of space to store their dishes and jars of ingredients while still maintaining their glassware in a cabinet.

29. Explore Alternative Shelving

Explore Alternative Shelving

Explore Alternative ShelvingView in gallery

When you think of shelving, you think of wooden boards attached to the walls. But this doesn’t always have to be the case. You can create your nontraditional shelves using metal, glass, or both, like these awesome hanging open shelves by Katie Hackworth. This is also the perfect time to consider repurposing old furniture, such as a door or wooden table as open shelves for your kitchen.

30. Cluster Items

Cluster Items

Cluster ItemsView in gallery

This may sound a bit odd, but when you group your items into clusters this will make them more aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Take any jars you may have and cluster them into groups of no more than three. You can also cluster any collectibles you may have on the shelf. And you don’t have to just cluster items which are similar. You’ll be surprised by how good completely different items may look together like in this kitchen on Trendir.

31. Show Off Your Cookware

Show Off Your Cookware

Show Off Your CookwareView in gallery

Although shelves are typically used for serving ware such as plates and bowls, don’t be afraid to use open kitchen shelving to display your pots and pans as well. You’ll benefit from this idea most if you have matching cookware such as in Mel And Liza Blogspot. But for people pots and pans don’t match, don’t write off this idea too quickly, as you can alternate your cookware with plates for a unique aesthetic.

32. Build A Bar

Build A Bar

Build A BarView in gallery

Always wanted a bar in your kitchen but never had the space? With open space kitchen shelving, you can create your bar on any open wall in your kitchen. Then you’ll just need to buy some fancy glassware and a shaker and you will be in business. This idea is best implied over a sink space like in Architectural Digest, but you can build a bar over any countertop space.

33. Organize Your Shelves According To Use

Organize Your Shelves According To Use

Organize Your Shelves According To UseView in gallery

Besides just being selective of the items you place on your open kitchen shelves; you should also be aware of where you are putting items. For example, put the dishes and spices you use daily on the lower shelf that is easy to reach while storing that pan you only use for special events on the top shelf.

You can even organize your items by where you will use them, such as in Inspired Kitchen Design, where the tea mugs are conveniently stored above the hot water boiler.

34. Use Baskets To Control Clutter

Use Baskets To Control Clutter

Use Baskets To Control ClutterView in gallery

Baskets are a great remedy for clutter. Not only can you fill them with whatever you would like, but you can also label them for quick selection. Even if you don’t have clutter to control, baskets can also be added to your shelving as decoration.

35. Pen A Positive Message

Pen A Positive Message

Pen A Positive MessageView in gallery

After spending hours making your kitchen look great, it’s time for the last touch. Hang a message board next to your small kitchen curtains or a DIY mini chalkboard so you can leave messages for your family members. May want to consider building your shelves on a chalkboard background. Then you can use it to label where things should be placed like Next Luxury did for this cute coffee bar with open shelving and gray-beige cabinets.

Open shelving is one way you can change the look of your kitchen. If you are looking at shelving to save space, or to get organized, it is a good remedy for your kitchen storage problems. Many tips from this list can be used to change your shelves to match a season. No matter which idea you choose, your open kitchen shelves are sure to look grand.

Open Kitchen Shelving Frequently Asked Questions

What To Put On Open Kitchen Shelves?

With open kitchen shelves, the question isn’t what you should but rather what you can’t put on them. The point here is that depending on your kitchen’s theme, it’s anything goes. Most people will showcase their nicest tableware, while others might want to display an expensive bottle of wine. 

How To Decorate Kitchen Shelves?

When decorating kitchen shelves, you first need to identify what you want. If your kitchen has a theme, then follow it. You can also use a kitchen shelf as an opportunity to accent the space with unique color. Do not be afraid to color clash the kitchen’s decor with an odd item or two. 

How To Style Open Kitchen Shelves?

Before choosing a style for your open kitchen shelves, choose a color or specific pattern and design everything around that. Monochromatic color styles are popular and offer a chic-minimalist approach. 

Open Kitchen Shelving Conclusion

With open kitchen shelving, you have a variety of design options. The shelves are cheap and provide space for storage or displaying items. You can make the shelves your next DIY kitchen cabinet project with ease. 

The biggest and maybe sole gripe about open kitchen shelves is how they collect dust.  Everyone will agree that the shelves make access to plates and glasses easier. All you have to do is grab and go.

Open shelves are ideal for smaller kitchens as cabinets consume too much space while robbing you of added storage opportunities. For those who like to cook and spend hours each day in the kitchen, open shelves allow you to see what cooking ingredients. Some days opening a cabinet is too much.  

If you’re on the fence about open kitchen shelving, one test that might work would be to remove your kitchen cabinet doors from your kitchen cabinets. The openness will give you a feeling of what it’s like to have open kitchen shelving.