Open Shelving Ideas For Your Kitchen

House Beautiful
Is open kitchen shelving a trend or here to stay?  Well, they have been around in home and restaurant kitchens for generations.  And they are definitely having a resurgence right now! 


1.  They are fun to style and make a nice focal point
2.  Easy to access items
3.  Usually less expensive than upper cabinets

With or without brackets?
Stained or painted?
Wood, glass or metal?
Becki Owens
I really like the texture of the tiled backs.

I love this look, too, but worry about keeping glass shelves clean so near a cooktop.  There is a thick barrier though.

Wish I had a photo, but for our kitchen in Paris we installed

Evans-Cucich-Hayden House, Atlanta, GA | Images Courtesy of Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles 
| Photographed by Erica George Dines

Cindy's fixer upper for re-sale (check out the before and after)
with shelves surrounding a cooktop hood.


You can get this look by removing cabinet fronts.
Check out the styling with baskets and stacked plates.

Or doing a mix of open and glass covered shelves, like I did...

You could purchase a free standing 
baker's rack like in the back ground...

Some source ideas...
Look for reclaimed wood in your area or on Etsy.
Or use paint or Minwax to stain wood from your local lumbar yard.

Shelf brackets... (I've used a lot of these)...
Restoration Hardware has nice brackets.

So does Rejuvenation

Purchased shelving...
Slim metal shelving (comes in black, too)

Café Shelving

Wine Center

What features do you like best about open shelving?


  1. Every kitchen I've ever had featured some sort of open shelving. I like the grab n' go feature that makes it easier to get what you need when you need it. I also inherited the "tool gene" from my dad. I enjoy the design, form and function of tools. I designed my kitchen remodel with the emphasis on the appliances (big tools!) I wanted and saved money by using open shelving. I've always loved the look and stability of chrome Metro shelves. My kitchen is a mix of black undercabinets with stainless counters and black undercabinets with maple counters. Into this mix I had the areas behind the two areas where the Metro shelves are covered with sheet mirror. In front of a large window I placed three Metro units. I hung my extensive all-clad collection from the top of the Metros like a valance. They sparkle in the sun and make me smile. I left the window without shelves to bring in the garden view and put more shelves under the window for stockpots. Not for everyone or perhaps anyone else, but open shelving works for me. It's my version of Mrs. Patmore's kitchen on Downton Abby. In fact, I named my new fridge after her. I think she could walk into my kitchen, grab an apron on a hook on a Metro shelf, tie it on and say "I see everything I need. I can work with this."

    1. Holy cow... sounds fab. Can you send a link or photos of it???

  2. I don't want to have to "curate" my kitchen. I like having closed cabinets. I don't even keep things on the countertops.
    Aesthetically, it seems to work best when everything is the same color, otherwise it's really too busy. And less is more. A couple of shelves can be interesting, when everything is out all around the kitchen, well, not for me.

  3. I like the look of open shelving when they are minimal and not too busy, but I also like the look of glass cabinet doors. I just wonder how long the open shelving will be on-trend and will it date our kitchens to a certain era, but I guess we could say that about most design except for the classics/traditionalist. Great line up with lots of inspiration!

  4. Wow, this post comes at just the right time!! Thank you, Mary Ann!

    Love the look probably because I would enjoy "curating" the shelves and displaying special pieces. I don't have any open shelving at the moment but am looking to fill the wall at the end of my kitchen "peninsula" that functions as an island. I would like to use it as a wine center. It's a space that opens to the dining area as well. I wish I could attached a photo here. I'm wondering if a built-in, a shelving "unit" or open shelving would work best. Something that is 36" H x 6-9" D x 28-30 W would look good, I think. Appreciative of any suggestions :)

    1. What about that Ballard one above? The link is there.

  5. Wonderful post Mary Ann! I love all of these ideas and wish I had a place in my kitchen to do something similar. You found great photos to show open shelving and sources for brackets too. Lots of wonderful inspiration.

  6. I enjoyed all the pictures: different textures, different styling. Thank you for a very educational post! But I guess we have more dust in Houston, because anything I leave out "in the open" acquires a dusty film rather quickly. For those of us who still do their own housekeeping, open shelving is best left for children's bookshelves.

    1. I think that that is an excellent point about dust. But it really works well for items that are in daily use and in and out of the sink... but not at all if dust is a battle.

  7. I am totally in love with open shelves. The first time we had them was in our kitchen here in France. We had all the usual concerns about dust etc., but I can honestly say we are never going back to upper cupboards! Initially we used fairly cheap white shelving as a sort of tester, to see if we liked them. Once we knew they were here to stay we had a local carpenter cut some aged French Oak for us to the exact lengths required and we have never looked back!

    1. That sounds so wonderful. We needed a quick and relatively quick solution for our apartment in Paris when we lived there...IKEA worked out well... but Aged French Oak!

  8. No, I'm not a fan of open shelving in the kitchen. I've tried it to a very small degree and it was immediately voted down in our house! We are neat freaks....but even so, I prefer crisp white cabinet doors. These pictures all look so wonderful and orderly but I wonder how long they can stay that way...

  9. Great pic, Mary Ann. When you moved into our old home a few years ago, there was open shelving in our kitchen. I thought I would replace it eventually. Who knew that they would be cool years later!! Have a great weekend.

  10. I really loved browsing through these photos Mary Ann, such a good collection. Personally I love the look of open shelves and I have some in our current kitchen and plan on including a few whenever we remodel. I didn't know you had a place in Paris, have you shared pictures before?

  11. Gorgeous inspiration! I left room for open shelves next to the hood here in the Chicago kitchen but never got around to installing them and hung a mirror in the interim. A stylist I trust said I should leave the mirror so it's still up even though I am drooling over these examples. i love the look of stainless shelves! xox

  12. I love open shelving but not near a cooktop so I will keep my closed cabinets for now.
    In my next kitchen I will have a choice and I think I will have both because I like the option and I would use it as a display more than a storage shelf. I liked your post with all the different kitchens. I love my kitchen-it is big and I have a huge island with plenty of storage. But when we downsize in 2 years, I will no doubt, have to remodel my next kitchen! But who knows what will be the popular style of kitchens in 2 years?

    1. I think you will be safe with some open shelving. We put open shelves in our kitchen when we lived Paris 12 years ago...still in style today!

  13. I love all these examples Mary Ann. I have a small area of open shelving for our glassware (everyday drinking glasses and some of our barware) in our kitchen and I love it - gives the space some character and shine. I have always loved that beverage cabinet of yours in your other house!!

  14. Thank you so much for including our fixer kitchen. Great ideas in this post. I think I need to pin every image!!

  15. Love the look of open shelving . . . in someone else’s home. Afraid in mine it would involve too much dusting. :-(


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