Pure Luxury: Kitchens With Open Shelving

  • 01 of 09

    No Kitchen Needs Open Shelves. That's Why They Are So Great.

    Kitchen open shelving and mosaic tile
    Getty / Hero 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.

    Which is why you will not find the following on open kitchen shelves:  Little Debbie Cosmic Cupcakes, Chips Ahoy cookies, Rice-a-Roni.  

    In fact, 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.  Beer pint glasses you stole from your local brewhouse and thin-stemmed wine glasses and Jet Age-looking Martini glasses and that pottery you picked up in Sedona.

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

    Shown Here

    Cantilevered open shelves set into a glass mosaic tile backsplash.

    Continue to 2 of 9 below.
  • 02 of 09

    Simple Farmhouse Kitchen With Open Shelving

    Farmhouse kitchen with open shelves
    Getty / Mint Images Helen Norman

    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.

    Continue to 3 of 9 below.
  • 03 of 09

    European Kitchen With Lovely Open Shelves

    Kitchen shelving with pottery
    Getty / Westend61

    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.  Here, 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.

    Continue to 4 of 9 below.
  • 04 of 09

    Gorgeous Wood Open Shelves for This Contemporary Kitchen

    Kitchen with beautiful wood open shelves
    Getty / Spaces Images

    Secret:  this is the open-shelved kitchen that sparked the idea for this article.  I am a sucker for kitchens that use a lot of wood, because, well, again it's 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.  Which 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.

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Completely Unique Open Shelves In a Shipping Pallet Kitchen

    Kitchen with long open shelves
    Getty / Westend61

    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.

    Continue to 6 of 9 below.
  • 06 of 09

    Simple Natural Wood Open Shelves for a Simple Kitchen

    Kitchen with simple opening shelving
    Getty / Eric Audras

    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, like 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.

    Continue to 7 of 9 below.
  • 07 of 09

    Extensive Open Shelving That Carry the Shelving Burden

    Large contemporary kitchen with open shelves
    Getty / YinYang

    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.

    Continue to 8 of 9 below.
  • 08 of 09

    Rustic, Historic-Like Kitchen Displaying Open Shelves

    Rustic country kitchen with open shelves
    Getty / Fotosearch

    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.

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Modern, Old-Timey Kitchen With Open Shelves Over Stove

    Kitchen pendant lights
    Getty / Charlie Dean

    A modern kitchen, but with lots of old-time touches, such as the Edison bulbs, old stove, and 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.