Kitchens With Open Shelving Pictures and Advice

  • 01 of 09

    Benefits of Open Shelves

    Kitchen with open shelving and mosaic tile
    Hero Images / Getty Images

    Standard kitchen wall cabinets have solid doors, like the good little cabinets they are. Some skirt convention and have opaque glass doors, permitting a fuzzy view of contents inside.

    But some cabinets are pure scofflaws. They fling off their doors entirely and show off everything they've got. It's a bold maneuver. Like the nudist shedding clothing at the beach, you've got to be pretty darn confident about the underneath stuff.

    This is why you will not find the following on open kitchen shelves: Little Debbie Cosmic Cupcakes, Chips Ahoy cookies, Rice-a-Roni, or similar items. Food is usually not displayed on open shelves, for reasons we will discuss later. And if it is, it is a food of only the highest order, the food you obtain from the farmer's market in your string bag: stalks of cosmetically beautiful celery or shiny purple eggplants or rich-brown farmhouse eggs.

    What you do find in great numbers are pretty things, things you want people to see. Flowers, fine china, even ordinary tableware. Other options might be beer pint glasses you stole from your local brewhouse and thin-stemmed wine glasses. Jet Age-looking Martini glasses and that pottery you picked up in Sedona could also work.

    That's why open shelves are pure luxury. They're show-offs.

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  • 02 of 09

    Farmhouse Kitchen

    Farmhouse kitchen with open shelves
    Mint Images Helen Norman / Getty Images

    A prime example of how only the best and most beautiful items are stored on open kitchen shelves.

    This simple farmhouse kitchen's open shelves display plain white plates, mixing bowls, and a few canisters of sugar and flour. The shelf corbels—those triangular buttresses at the ends—both provide extra support and contribute to the country feeling in this space.

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  • 03 of 09

    European Kitchen

    Kitchen shelving with pottery
    Westend61 / Getty Images

    Even small kitchens can have open shelves—if you're okay with devoting space to openly showing off your pottery rather than more essential items.

    Shelves can be an art-form. In this example, two standard brown cantilever shelves blend into a brown background​ but are set off with the brilliant display of daisies, earthenware, and little glass bottles.

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  • 04 of 09

    Open Shelves in a Contemporary Kitchen

    Kitchen with beautiful wood open shelves
    Spaces Images / Getty Images

    Kitchens that use a lot of wood are a needless luxury. In this world of plastic, melamine, laminate, solid surface, you don't need a single square inch of wood in your kitchen. This is what makes it so great.

    These shelves provide tons of space for your nice things. If you want one wood item in your kitchen, try making that item the open shelves.

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  • 05 of 09

    Unique Open Shelves

    Kitchen with long open shelves
    Westend61 / Getty Images

    Shipping pallets are a trend in homes now, and here you find them built into the kitchen cabinets. Contrasting with this extremely rough, rustic look are open shelves that span the entire width of the kitchen.

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  • 06 of 09

    Natural Wood in a Simple Kitchen

    Kitchen with simple opening shelving
    Eric Audras / Getty Images

    Simple and simple. The kitchen is just your ordinary, workaday kitchen, nothing spectacular. It's even got the fridge magnets and dish drainer.

    So, you can't exactly overload the kitchen with a massive, spectacular array of shelves, as we've seen previously. Just three tiers of natural wood cantilevered shelves for your Pottery Barn plates and glasses, and you're good to go.

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  • 07 of 09

    Extensive Open Shelving

    Large contemporary kitchen with open shelves
    YinYang / Getty Images

    This is where open shelves slide from being "pure luxury" to "pure necessity." The corbel-supported shelves on the right side, along with the large open pantry on the left, comprise the majority of shelving in this vaulted-ceiling, light-filled kitchen.

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  • 08 of 09

    Rustic, Historic-Like Kitchen

    Rustic country kitchen with open shelves
    Fotosearch / Getty Images

    This image is not an authentically historic kitchen, but a clever replica. From the wood beams running across the ceiling to the oil lamp to the bare and battered kitchen table—this is true country rusticity.

    Why are foodstuffs are not displayed in open shelves today? Partially, as already noted, you don't want to show off your Cap'n Crunch boxes. But also because back in the "olden days," cabinets with doors were used to keep out the vermin. Doors were there for a very good and practical reason, not just for show.

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  • 09 of 09

    Modern Rustic Kitchen

    White country kitchen with open shelves
    Charlie Dean / Getty Images

    This is a modern kitchen with lots of old-time touches, such as the Edison bulbs, old stove, and a white-painted brick wall. And of course, the open shelves over the stove. Shelves over stoves tend to be more for looks than for any practical use because it's inconvenient and even dangerous to be reaching over flames to grab that container of basil. Better to put the pretty copper pitcher up there instead.