How To Style Open Shelving
Open shelving can make a kitchen feel bigger and add a layer of personality, but it can also be daunting to have your whole life (or your kitchenware) on display all the time, Monday through Sunday. It’s not like you can exactly display your mismatched mug collection or show off your mounds of lost-lid tupperware. But, don’t let the pressure of perfection stop you from having the open shelving (and kitchen) of your dreams.
Here are some tips to create cohesive, pulled together shelves – but first watch this little video we made in our latest clients home that sums it all up.
First, start by making sure your everyday essentials get the shelf space they need. Those are your glasses, plates, and bowls (the things you actually use often and need easy access to). Buy matching sets of each if you want to make it easy on yourself, but if you want to go the more eclectic route you can (she says hesitatingly), just make sure that you stay within a color palette and that the mismatched pieces have something in common – maybe they are all old, or all stoneware, etc. Mixing old and new is typically a good thing, but mixing vintage and new plates in the same stack tends to look messy and like a thrift store. Stick to sets and lots of them – 12 plates, 8 bowls, 10 glasses, etc, and unless you can handle visual chaos, keep them on the simpler side like we have.
While I love the collected/layered look, I like shelves in the kitchen to look a bit more neat and orderly so that they don’t feel so thrown together (again, there are exceptions). So when in doubt, face things the same way – like those mugs.
Add your interest/pattern and more eclectic pieces on the top shelf as you aren’t going to grab for those as often and they aren’t as in your face.
Make sure to combine sets of things with larger, more graphic pieces like this pitcher. It helps ground the collection and takes up good real estate without being busy.
Just like any shelf styling make sure that it feels balanced in color and busy-ness. Pepper the colors and pattern around evenly and lean art/books in the back to help draw your eye there, which makes it feel bigger, adds depth, texture and certainly personality.
I have only installed open shelving in two kitchens – both of which were galley kitchens with plenty of alternative storage and the kitchens themselves needed to feel bigger and more open. We debated doing it with our new kitchen but now that we opened up the kitchen (see here) we don’t need it to feel more open and we are desperate for storage, so we are putting in uppers with glass or mesh fronts that will help it feel bigger but provide a bit more storage and ability to hide our unmentionables.
It’s certainly been a trend for a while so I’m curious about those of you who have them in your kitchen – does maintaining the styling of them become a chore or is it worth having the benefits of those shelves? Do dish (HA!).
*See the whole kitchen with all the sources here.
** Photography by Zeke Ruelas.