7 Effective Tips For Integrating Open Kitchen Shelving

Although the concept looks effortless and versatile, is open kitchen shelving really as easy as it appears?
Text by

The short answer: no. But don't let that deter you from openly airing your favorite kitchenware for all to see. While this type of budget-friendly, eye-catching storage does require strategic planning, we're here to help you perfect the concept. Below, we've rounded up seven ways to keep your open kitchen shelving both aesthetically pleasing and highly functional.

1. Become Your Own Editor. 

To become your own editor, you'll first need to decide what look you're striving for. Are you seeking a minimalist, modern vibe with your open shelves, or do you prefer something more rustic feeling?

The first step to open kitchen shelving is deciding on a specific look or vibe. For example, if you’re aiming for a more minimalist approach, you will need to select only a few items to be housed on the shelving units that, together, can create a balanced grouping. 

2. Aim For a Mixture of Cohesion and Functionality. 

Clear glasses and/or white plates are a great go-to for open kitchen shelving. Given the neutral shades, these items can be used frequently and seamlessly match other color palettes within the space.

With open kitchen shelving, you want the items displayed to be both useful and easy to reach, all while remaining pleasing to the eye. The best way to do this is by picking a specific color palette and sticking to it. 

3. Think With a "Less is More" Mindset. 

It is important to remember that just because you use an item regularly doesn't mean it has to be displayed. If the item doesn't match the other kitchenware you're opting to showcase, it won't naturally blend in.

Despite how often you might use them, open kitchen shelving isn’t the place to store random items that don't match other cohesive-looking pieces. In fact, the unique nature of these objects will ultimately make these items attract (the wrong kind of) attention, rather than allowing them to blend in with everything else on the shelf.

4. Show Off More Than Just Dishware.

When showcasing pantry staples, it's best to store these items in the same kind of vessel so there is still unity and cohesion on the shelf, even if the food inside the containers are different in color, shape, and/or size.

Displaying pantry staples like pasta, flour, sugar, and other baking and cooking essentials is a great strategy to get rid of oversized boxes and packaging. More so, by placing them in large jars or elegant containers, you transform these ingredients into something worth showing off. 

5. Mix Functional and Decorative Items.

Open kitchen shelving is a wonderful place to display any kind of fancy dinnerware or family heirlooms you own that have previously been hiding behind closed cabinets.

When looking to display fancy dinnerware or family heirlooms, consider storing these items on higher-up, harder-to-reach shelves. This way, you can proudly showcase these items, yet maintain a sense of functionality by reserving the lower shelves for any objects that you use on a regular basis.

6. Consider Shelves as Decorative Items, Too. 

Solid wood shelves can be a great way to add contrast and texture a kitchen, especially an all-white one. If you're looking to add more fun pops of personality, opt for decorative brackets. 

Another important factor with open kitchen shelving is remembering that it's not just the pieces displayed on the shelves that are visible—the shelves themselves are part of the look, too. Take time to consider the material, color, size, depth, and thickness of the shelving units.

7.  Remember That You Can Still Integrate Cabinets. 

You can still infuse open kitchen shelving into your space without foregoing all cabinetry. For instance, base cabinets typically should maintain their doors, as it's easier to get lower shelves dirty and damage any dishware inside.

Although open kitchen shelving can be a great way to add functional display areas to your space, it doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to all cabinetry. Oftentimes, just a few open shelves are enough to add the visual interest you’re looking for.



Get the Dwell Newsletter

Be the first to see our latest home tours, design news, and more.