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41 Smart Kitchen Open Shelves Ideas

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Usually reserved for commercial kitchens, open shelving has been popular in residential homes for some time now. This makes sense for a kitchen that gets a lot of use. Why fish through closed cabinets when everyday items can be close at hand? At the same time, we spend a lot of time selecting our dishes, glasses and serveware, what’s the point in shielding them from view when they can add to the decor of the room that’s filled with hard lines and boring appliances. These are both valid arguments for open shelving, but there are plenty of cons as well. Let the debate begin!

I’ll start with the pros, because starting on a brighter note is always better! If you’ve ever been in a kitchen with walls of shelves rather than cabinets, you understand the sense of openness and the inviting feeling it gives off. It’s a kitchen that says “come on in, pull up a seat and grab a fork!” In other words, “Help yourself.” The room itself feels larger and the casual vibe runs throughout. At a dinner party or holiday gathering, friends and family won’t have to ask you where to find things or rummage through cabinets.

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A big plus can come from the fact that guests eyes will be gazing at your pretty collection of bowls and such, rather than the outdated flooring or appliances. Don’t worry about not having a cohesive set of dishes and glassware, if you can’t tell from my previous articles, I tend to think uniformity is overrated! Save the matchy-matchy for folks who do one-stop shopping at large chain stores. Varied pieces that share a common theme, color or style are far more pleasing to the eye. Plus, it makes that platter handed down from Grandma and chaffing dish “borrowed” from Mom that much more special.

While staying tidy enough to put it all out there may seem daunting, if you tend to be messy, open shelving will force you to keep it together! Many times the best decorators and artists have trouble staying organized. If you think of your kitchen goods as works of art, it’ll remain a constant work in progress!

Just like the pros rely heavily on style and personality, so do the cons. If your style is sleek and modern, traditional or what I like to call “upscale” (includes big bucks appliances and “only the best” granite counter tops) an open shelving plan won’t work for your kitchen. If you like to be the only cook in the kitchen, you probably don’t want the space to be inviting. Guests can mingle (and keep their culinary advice to themselves) as you do your thing – the kitchen can remain strictly business when all is behind closed doors. For those who aren’t super organized, cabinets work. Nobody needs to know that your Tupperware collection is a jumbled mess of odds with no matching ends.

On that note, if mix and match isn’t a style you love or if you are less than proud of your collections, you may not be ready for open shelving. Buying a new assortment of tableware can get expensive, and chances are you’ll still be left with several things that don’t quite belong together.

Another drawback to open shelving isn’t immediately obvious to those focused on function and style…but any clean freak readers have been shouting since they read the title: “Dust, grease, stains, oh my!” Yes, leaving things out in the open makes them subject to dust. With all you have to worry about in your home, ferociously wiping down dishes and plates like you do you vases and shelving does not seem like any fun. Naturally, during cooking there are splatters and if your shelves are close by, they’re bound to get hit.

Whether you’re an ‘open’ or a ‘closed’ the important thing is, if you love being in the kitchen – you should absolutely love your kitchen. Arguably the most expensive room to renovate, there are lots of small ways to make changes. Oh and if you can’t tell, I’m on Team Open.