There are so many reasons why it makes sense to include open shelving in your kitchen. The good news is that they work well in large and small kitchens, as well as both modern and traditional designs. The bad news is that careless attention to design will see you with plenty of open shelving, a clutter or mismatch of stuff stored on it, and way too much cleaning and dusting on your hands.
No-Fail Methods for Adding Open Shelving to Your Kitchen Design
Before we go into the best methods for integrating open shelving into your kitchen, it’s important for you to decide why you want them in the first place.
- You like the way they look. Open shelving adds an ‘open’ feel to the kitchen, and they look great when adorned with the right shelf inhabitants. Are you planning to fill them with the right items? Do you have a sense of what will look organized and what would wind up looking cluttered? Make sure you’re clear on exactly what the shelves will contain so you can choose shelving materials appropriately.
- Your kitchen is small. Open shelving is a smart move in small kitchens because you reclaim the visual space that is typically lost by a standard 12-inch deep cabinet box. If this is the case for you, be thoughtful about where you place the cabinets to maximize that sense of spaciousness. For example, a row of shelves above your sink wall or in blind corners will help to keep things more open.
- You don’t like cabinet walls. We live in an era of fully-integrated cabinetry, where you often can’t tell the difference between a refrigerator door and a cabinet panel. At the same time, this can make for a fairly boring, wall-to-wall cabinet look – and that has its own inherent downfalls. Many of my clients like to use open shelving to break up the monotony. If this is the case for you, place them in locations where you feel a visual break is needed.
There are a few examples of why open shelving may be on your kitchen remodeling wish list. Now, let’s look at the ways you can ensure they don’t add unexpected chores to your already full schedule.
Balance materials with cleaning realities. Cabinet boxes with doors protect your dishware from dust. You’ll never know how much dust and grime is moving through your kitchen atmosphere until you add open shelving…unless you’re smart about it. If you are okay with a more contemporary look, consider using stainless steel shelving with wire rack-style shelves if you plan to add more than a few open shelves to the mix. This will make your life much simpler.
If you have a traditional or farmhouse-style kitchen, you might want to consider decorative cabinet boxes sans doors rather than fully open shelves. That way, you get the openness and exposure you’re looking for (and you can choose complimentary or contrasting paint colors for the box interiors) but the dishes and shelves are slightly more dust-proof.
Plan the contents and location accordingly. Keep in mind that any open shelves near a hood will be prone to grease and moisture – as well as splatter and debris. This may alter whether you choose that for an open shelving location or what you choose to store there. The best items to store in open shelves are cookbooks, dishes you use on a regular basis, or dishes and dishware collectibles that you’re intentionally putting on display. When you stray too far from these items, you can wind up with shelves that look cluttered or that need to be cleaned way more often than you’re in the mood for.