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Is Open Shelving Still In Style?

Open shelving has been making appearances in kitchen renovations for decades, but is this trend on its way out?

Is Open Shelving Still a ‘Thing’?

Through our virtual design consultations, we’ve helped many of you to tie up kitchen designs, answering quandaries about lighting placement, cabinet materials and mixing-and-matching hardware. Inevitably, a question about open shelving will pop up! Is it too trendy? Will I regret it? Doesn’t it get dusty?

To which the most simple answer is (and I know you’ve heard me state this before!): Know thyself. Know your habits, know your routine, know your partner and your kids and your pets. How do you live your life, and how does that impact how you use your kitchen? That said, I’m happy to share why we still love open shelving, why we incorporate where we can, and why we believe it’s more about you than it is about any trend.

The Upside of Open Shelving In Your Kitchen

Open shelving has the potential to make your kitchen appear larger and lighter! Rather than a wall of cabinetry, you’re met with extra head room and lighting that reaches the corners of the space. That alone can make a huge impact depending on the shape of your room!

It also allows for ease of putting dishes away, eliminating the need to sift through doors and drawers. And on the opposite end, it’s a cinch to see what you need, grab it, and start meal prep! Removing one step from the process (opening a cabinet door, in this case), might seem insignificant, but it’s a simple pleasure we’ve grown to appreciate.

Is There a Downside?

Of course! This goes back to my rule of knowing you better than anyone else ever could, but I think the most obvious answer is the look of clutter and potential for dust build-up. There are several ways we combat this, which makes open shelving work harder for us, rather than against us:

  • We store sippy cups, plastic toddler-ware and less favorable items in a drawer or cabinet.
  • We have a complete everyday dish set that includes large and small plates, bowls, and pasta dishes. This cuts down on the look of visual clutter.
  • We have a complete set of water, wine and cocktail glasses to create neat, uniform rows.
  • We only store the items we use ALL the time on our open shelving. Because every item is in constant rotation, it rarely (if ever!) has the opportunity to collect dust. Mean it.

Plan for Deep Base Cabinetry

When designing our Chicago kitchen, we opted for almost all drawers for our base cabinetry. Our drawers are full extension, meaning, the drawer extends so that we can reach items in the very back. This is a game changer for storing everything from travel mugs to smoothie cups to small appliances, and it’s much easier on our backs! Just think, we don’t have to get down to shuffle through the dreaded back of the cabinet.

Be Mindful of Design and Functionality

If you’ve been pinning kitchens with expansive open shelving wondering if you can do the same, I encourage you to take note of the rest of those kitchen layouts. Are they also using drawers as base cabinets? Do they have an island with storage? Is there a pantry off to the side? What is being displayed on the shelving? Is it practical for you?

In summary, I will always be ‘all in’ when it comes to open shelving in the kitchen IF I can combine design with functionality. Open shelving needs to do both to be a benefit, and keeping in mind a few simple tips, it’s absolutely possible to pull off! Below, I’m sharing the items we keep out at all times on our shelving. For our family, it works – trend or no trend.

What’s On Our Floating Shelves

A round up of the items we keep on our open shelving in our Chicago kitchen, pretty enough to display and classic enough for every day use! | via Yellow Brick Home

1. smeg toaster | 2. lenox glasses | 3. haze glasses | 4. bistro mugs | 5. baskets | 6. wine glasses | 7. under shelf rack | 8. coupe glasses | 9. non-breakable plates | 10. beer glasses


See also: 5 hidden features in our Chicago kitchen, all the measurements in our kitchen, and how we created a beverage corner.

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  • Julie2.13.24 - 5:41 PM

    I definitely envy open shelf people (like you guys!), but I will never have pretty and neat enough stuff, nor do I want to look at all my stuff. I love looking at a solid cabinet door face. ReplyCancel

    • Emme2.15.24 - 2:43 PM

      I also don’t want to give “greasy dust on shelf items” any mindshare since I have a gas stove right now. I already have to make sure the kitchen is clean of that. Love the styled look of it, though, and I always will.ReplyCancel

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