Open Shelving Concept for the Kitchen: Why (and How) to Pull It Off

Gone are the days when we clung to the idea that home design must always appear impeccably neat, orderly, and organized. In fact, recent design trends prove that some of the chicest setups are those rooms in our home embellished with accessories and traditionally mismatched pieces of furniture, art, and fixtures. 


You may be shaking your head at this ludicrous idea, but give us another minute of your attention to explain. First of all, we’re not suggesting that you paint one wall of your living room lemon yellow, an adjacent wall blood red, and adorn the space with a neon blue love seat… unless, of course, that sounds like your cup of tea. Instead, we want you to open up to the idea that a little disorder in design can lead to the benefit of a beautiful, finished product.


Precisely, we want to turn your attention to the kitchen. We’re talking open concept shelving.


What is Open Concept Shelving, You Ask?

Some might cringe at the thought of stripping away their kitchen cabinetry and exposing what’s inside. Some may feel naked – as if the thought of bearing it all (or at least some of their pots and pans) will reveal their kitchen’s deep, dirty secrets. However, we’re proposing you do so.



The open shelving kitchen trend has been around for a few years now, but really seems to now be staking its claim in the interior design world. And while it’s certainly not a design made for everyone, it might be a great option if you’re looking to inject some modernism into your space, or if you’re trying to work with a tiny kitchen.


If you’re feeling brave enough to bare some of the bones of your kitchen, read on. We promise it’ll be worth your while.


Open Shelving Visually Expands Your Small Space

Working with a galley kitchen or apartment with tight square-footage? By removing and replacing the upper cabinet doors in your kitchen, you will visually expand your small space.


Use open shelving to hold everything from serving platters to baking supplies. By tearing down the cabinet walls and doors that usually cover up these items, you are also exposing more wall space and depth. Therefore, open storage allows for the same amount of loading without cluttering visual space.



It’s a Budget-Friendly Solution

When it comes to interior design and renovation, there’s no skirting around the fact that cabinetry is quite often one of the biggest strains on your budget. When you opt to equip your space with an open shelving concept, however, you can save quite a bit of dough.


Seriously, think about the cash you’d save by swapping out entire cabinet sets for sturdy, simple shelving. Even if you’re not completely set on the idea, but can’t quite afford the cabinet upgrade yet, install open shelving as an interim option. Who knows, you might grow fond of it.



It Gives Off the Vibe of a Cozy, Lived-in Space


See that hanging pot rack up there (above)? Doesn’t that picture just give you a sense of cozy and calm? It’s not by accident. A simple, exposed pot rack keeps oversize pots and pans within reach of the kitchen’s work zone without causing a total ruckus. Instead, the exposed design provides for a lived-in character. 


Hanging these large items from an exposed rack frees up tons of cabinet space in a small kitchen. Bonus tip: You can also hang the pots and pans from a rack by the ceiling over the kitchen table or island. Then boom, you will have even more available free space.


Never Get Kitchen-Confused Again!

Where in the world did you put that serving platter again?! Say goodbye to dishware-induced frustrations when you decide to swap out your closed-up kitchen cabinets for open shelving.



First of all, it really is the ultimate convenience to have all of your kitchen items visible and easy-to-grab at all times, especially for those who enjoy home-entertaining and hosting.


Second of all, guests can easily find whatever they might need, and you’ll never go crazy over deciding where you hid your new cast-iron pan again.


Get Diverse with a Cabinetry Combo

Even if you’re ready to hop on board full-force with the open shelving concept, it’s important to remember that every effective kitchen needs a combination of open and closed storage. Consider a combination of open shelving (for higher spaces) and closed cabinets (below the kitchen counter) for the ultimate in storage flexibility.



Provide visual relief from closed cabinetry by converting high-up storage into open shelving. However, feel free to keep cabinet space located below your kitchen counter concealed. This provides the perfect balance in which you can use your exposed shelving for the more presentable items and closed cabinetry for everything that you don’t want to be hanging out and in the open all of the time.


Still Cautious about Stripping Down to Shelving?

We understand that you might not be comfortable with taking it all off…in terms of cabinetry, that is. Consider swapping out traditional cabinet doors with see-through, glass doors. This solution provides the illusion of extra space and shows off your dishware, but without completely exposing every little nook and cranny.



Glass cabinet doors are also just right for those with children and pet owners… particularly those who have curious cats that like to climb all over high spaces. We don’t want any of your exposed and expensive china falling from a shelf! Glass doors provide a safer alternative to full-on exposure.


Throw your ideas of perfection and the necessity of closing cabinet doors out the window! Open shelving is the hot, rising trend for kitchens that adds just the right amount of spice to an otherwise simple kitchen design layout.


Considering open shelving? Use the tips above to master the cozy, semi-orderly kitchen space of your dreams! And feel free to experiment with other design ideas in House Tipster’s online 3D Virtual Rooms.


Images used with permission, courtesy of

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