Open Kitchen Shelving Ideas

by Shelley SmithMay 16, 2012

Since we touched a bit last week on how to update your kitchen cabinetry, I thought that this week it would be nice to further the discussion and chat a little about open shelving in the kitchen. Even though the concept has been around for a long time, in the past two years the open kitchen shelving trend has really taken off in popularity. Shelving of any kind in a kitchen can be a great way to showcase beautiful dishware and colorful cooking ingredients, as well as additional decor to add fun pops of personality to your space.

Not sure if open shelving in a kitchen is for you? Well then take a look at some different styles and creative ideas below, that may have you considering ways to incorporate open kitchen shelving into your home!

Traditional Decorative Corbel Shelving

Painted or stained wood boards with decorative corbels can be an easy way to add lots of visual interest to your space. This is also the perfect route to go if you need to customize the size of your shelving, because the materials can be cut or placed wherever you need them, to accommodate any measurement.

Open kitchen shelving with corbels123

Modern Metal Shelving

If your home has a modern feel, or you tend to stay away from traditional or cottage-type looks, then you might consider metal shelving in your kitchen space. You can purchase metal shelving with or without brackets, and instead of letting your actual shelf make a huge decorative statement, the items that you display on them, can become the star of the show.
metal kitchen shelving

Open metal kitchen shelving1234

Obviously it’s easier to plan on exposed kitchen shelving BEFORE you build a house, but if you find yourself still wanting the look and can’t find the wall space, think of doing what Erica did. She removed a few of her existing cabinets from her kitchen wall, and DIY’ed up some metal shelving of her own! This is definitely a “Saturday Project”, which means that if you have everything you need on hand, you could accomplish this entire task all in one day!


If you’re thinking that taking cupboards off the wall is still a little too risky, then you might consider just taking the DOORS off instead. Exposing already existing kitchen cabinet shelving is a super cost effective and simple way to create the look of open kitchen shelving, with minimal work.

Open shelving - taking your cabinet doors off123

Melissa from The Inspired Room shared how she added a custom touch to her space by simply removing a few kitchen cabinet doors in her home and then creating a display area for all her beautiful white dishes.

open shelving DIY - The Inspired Roomsource

Jen, from Tatertots and Jello decided to update her kitchen this year, and in the process also removed cabinet doors from their hinges, to establish a space for unique cake stands and platters that she wanted on display.

Open kitchen shelving makeover - tatertotsandjellosource

If you decide to go the route of removing the doors from your current cabinets and want to punch up your space with even more personality, think about backing the cabinets with molding, mirrors, beadboard, vinyl, stencils or even wrapping paper!

wrapping-paper-backed-cabinet-2 (1)source

backing cabinets with different elements123

For those of us who have much smaller kitchens and don’t feel that adding shelving is an option, maybe incorporating some extra stand-alone shelving would do the trick!? Finding a space next to the kitchen that can house a fun little cubby system or tall shelving unit, will not only give you the same feeling of open kitchen shelving, but will also help to create additional storage.

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Quick Tip for Open Shelving Displays

Just like any space in your home when items are on display, they need to be cohesive and have an overall theme. Maybe it’s the actual items (all appliances, all bowls, all cookbooks etc.) or perhaps it’s the fact that everything has the same color scheme. Whatever you decide, keeping the items you’re using on your shelves relateable and somewhat unified by a common denominator, is a great way to insure that you have a successful display area.

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Open kitchen shelving decor1234

So what do you think? Are you anxious to jump on the open shelving bandwagon to find out if it can add a little pop of color or additional space for decor in your kitchen? Or do you feel that it would cut back on more useful (hide-able) storage, and become just another area to worry about keeping tidy?

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Shelley Smith

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