21 Beautiful Open Kitchen Shelving Ideas

open shelving in kitchen

The Spruce / Kevin Norris

One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to update your kitchen is to nix some upper cabinets and replace them with shelves instead.

Whether you're budgeting for a full-scale remodel or you just want a small update, these kitchen shelving ideas will help steer you in the right direction. 

  • 01 of 21

    Incorporate Wooden Shelving for a Rustic Look

    rustic farmhouse kitchen with open shelving

    Becca Interiors

    Floating shelves in a farmhouse-style kitchen are often made from stained or reclaimed wood, which looks great in most spaces. These wooden shelves are given some additional rustic flair with wire hooks supporting each shelf, ultimately supported by the exposed wooden beam ceiling above.

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  • 02 of 21

    Alternate Open Shelving With Hanging Storage

    open shelving kitchen

    Tyler Karu Design

    In many instances, open shelving surrounds a range hood evenly on both sides so the entire look feels symmetrical and balanced. However, consider switching up your kitchen storage by instead opposing some open shelving with hanging storage. 

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  • 03 of 21

    Turn Shelving Into an Open Pantry

    open shelving at end of island

    Design: Velinda Hellen for EHD/Photographer: Sara Ligorria-Tramp

    If you have spare space in your kitchen—whether that be a wall or even a kitchen island–but no pantry, this solution is ideal. Open shelving works best when it's only partially about design and more about function. This project will help you keep a more organized pantry, and the visibility will help you know exactly how much you have left of certain dry goods.

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  • 04 of 21

    Save Money by Removing Cabinet Doors

    open shelving kitchen

    Arbor & Co.

    The easiest way to update your kitchen without going through an entire remodel is to remove the doors from existing cabinets. To add more of a wow factor, consider painting the interior of your cabinets a different color. 

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  • 05 of 21

    A Couple of Well-Placed Shelves Go a Long Way

    wooden plank floating shelves in kitchen

    Calimia Home

    Many people assume when they incorporate open shelving into their kitchen, they have to add tons of shelves. This isn't the case. A couple of smaller shelves that take up the space of one cabinet will make a significant impact on the space. This idea works well for those who want the look of open shelving but less commitment in regards to cleaning and styling them. 

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  • 06 of 21

    Use Open Shelving to Create a Coffee Bar

    open shelving coffee bar in kitchen

    Becca Interiors

    If you wake up every morning in need of a cup of coffee, consider using open shelving to create a coffee bar in your kitchen. This project can be as simple as adding a couple of shelves above the coffee pot or as elaborate as the setup shown here. 

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  • 07 of 21

    Rethink What Open Shelving Should Look Like

    glass shelves with brass hardware

    Jessica Nelson Design

    Remember, open shelving isn't limited to farmhouse style. There are numerous ways you can design shelves to fit in with your specific aesthetic. For a more modern look, consider gold and brass finishes in more geometric patterns, and opt for glass instead of wooden varieties.

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  • 08 of 21

    Add Open Shelving Above the Sink

    floating shelves with blue cabinets

    Studio Peake

    In most traditional kitchen layouts, there is a shorter cabinet placed above the sink. To create a more airy feel, remove that cabinet and opt for a couple of well-placed shelves instead. This area can be an ideal storage space for dish soaps and anything you don't mind being exposed to moisture from the sink. It can also work in your favor to set shelves higher up to store glasses, mugs, and other decor you want out in the open. Many houseplants will thrive in this location. 

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  • 09 of 21

    Make Open Shelving Work in a Corner Space

    open shelving retro kitchen

    Design: Velinda Hellen for EHD/Photographer: Sara Ligorria-Tramp

    It's easy enough to run open shelving along an entire wall and stop it at the end. Instead, consider creating a right angle and making use of the corner space, too. Since most corners are relatively hidden from view, you can use this space for microwaves and other less attractive kitchen appliances and gadgets. You can also opt for items that aren't used as often, to keep those corners covered.

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  • 10 of 21

    Restyle Kitchen Shelving Often

    Kitchen shelf styling

    Cathie Hong

    Perhaps the most fun and challenging part about open shelving is the styling. Once you get the hang of how items group together, styling becomes easier and more enjoyable. A few tips to keep in mind:

    • Keep your color palette simple for a more streamlined look. 
    • Add in greenery using houseplants with differing textures.
    • Group items in clusters of three.
    • Make sure there is a variation of heights so your eye is drawn across the entire shelf.
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  • 11 of 21

    Use Open Shelving In Unusually Shaped-Spaces

    small kitchenette with floating shelves

    Arbor & Co.

    It's no secret that smaller spaces require unique storage solutions. When working with a small kitchen or kitchenette space, open shelving can do wonders to add much-needed storage options—especially in the form of wooden shelves that take up far less space than bulky cabinets. This works especially well with uniquely shaped spaces, like a slanted roof or half-wall. A few floating shelves add the perfect amount of support for extra glassware and cups, keeping them in reach.

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  • 12 of 21

    Get Playful With Your Decor

    floating wooden shelves with decorative wallpaper behind

    Casa Watkins Living

    While minimalist styles and color schemes certainly have their place, there isn't anything wrong with adding plenty of color and pattern into the mix. Open shelving placed against a radiant backdrop, like this eclectic wallpaper, is a simple way to add a burst of color to your kitchen, while also displaying all the items you need.

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  • 13 of 21

    Establish Symmetry

    symmetrical floating shelves in kitchen

    Ashley Montgomery Design

    Creating a cohesive space in your kitchen means taking balance into account. Open shelving has plenty of great attributes, but its placement and the items you choose to showcase can lead to things looking more cluttered than crafted. Using equal amounts of one shelving and being mindful of what goes on it can go a long way.

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  • 14 of 21

    Open Shelving Isn't Limited to Your Walls

    green kitchen with small island and open shelving

    Burchard Design Co.

    The words "open shelving" often evoke concepts of cabinets without doors and floating shelves—both valuable options. However, your walls aren't the only space you can incorporate this idea—your kitchen island can also lend a hand in this department. A kitchen island with exposed shelves and extra space for storage can be an absolute gamechanger.

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  • 15 of 21

    Opt For a Stand Alone Shelf

    kitchen shelf

    House of Chais

    In lieu of mounting shelving, why not add a stand-alone shelf into the mix? A simple multi-tier option has plenty of space to showcase decorative items, as well as smaller essentials like coffee cups and salt and peppershakers.

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  • 16 of 21

    Pair Floating Shelves With Open Door Shelving

    kitchen with wooden drawers and open shelves

    Jules Interiors

    Don't feel the need to limit the types of shelving in your kitchen—there are so many options to choose from. Pairing a floating shelf with open door shelving, like this marble kitchen, is a great way to make the most of your space without sticking to just one concept.

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  • 17 of 21

    Create Unity

    black and white kitchen

    LeClair Decor

    Open shelves are a great way to create symmetry and balance in your space. Additionally, they can work exceptionally well in creating unity in multiple spaces throughout your kitchen. The set of six floating wooden shelves shown in this kitchen already provides plenty of storage and looks great in the process. Turn your eyes over to the bar area, and you'll notice another set of the same floating shelves make an appearance there as well—creating a sense of unity in entirely separate spaces.

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  • 18 of 21

    Make The Most Of Your Space

    all open shelving kitchen

    M Starr Design

    Rather than spacing out your open shelves, keeping them close together creates a cozy atmosphere that has everything you need within reach. Opting for smaller shelves to fill smaller areas, while having wraparound options for those corner spaces, keeps everything looking sleek and cohesive.

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  • 19 of 21

    Pair Open Shelves With Tile

    floating shelves with white tile kitchen

    Margaret Wright Interior + Lifestyle Photography

    From a decorating perspective, floating shelves work well with essentially any theme. For a distinctly modern look, try pairing wooden shelves with white tile—the results feel timeless, yet absolutely chic.

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  • 20 of 21

    Blend In

    black and gray kitchen

    Margaret Wright Interiors + Lifestyle Photography

    Open shelves don't have to be abrasive or attention-grabbing if you don't want them to be. For an understated look, try matching your shelving to the color of your walls—this deep charcoal kitchen cloaks the floating shelves so well, you can barely tell they are there at all.

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  • 21 of 21

    Don't Knock Hanging Storage

    orange kitchen pots hanging from ceiling

    Mary Patton Design

    More shelves are always a plus but don't knock the value of hanging storage options. Especially if you have pots and pans that you don't mind displaying, opting for a hanging rack that holds them all can free up some serious cabinet and shelving space while creating a unique focal point.