How To Style Your Open Kitchen Shelving

Isn’t it fun when you hop on a design trend and the trend sticks around? Open shelving is one of those trends. It’s been around long enough to make its way into almost every kitchen in some capacity. Time has shown us that there are real open shelving lovers that eschew all cabinetry in favor of kitchenware display.

Open Kitchen Shelving

There are also real open shelving haters that wouldn’t jump on that bandwagon for anything. But wherever you fall, if you have open shelving in your kitchen, this post is for you. There are many different ways to style open kitchen shelves that will blend with the style of your home and living. Here are 35 styles that you can incorporate into your kitchen’s open shelving.

The Best Open Kitchen Shelving Styles For Your Space

1. Consider Your Color Palette For Open Shelving

View in gallery

Whether you’re styling throw pillows on your couch, your mantel decor, or your holiday table settings, you always think about your color palette first thing. It’s no different when it comes to open shelving. Whatever you are storing on them is out for all eyes to see so it will help your kitchen if the colors blend well. A collection of white dishes will never go amiss.

2. Give Neutral A Try

View in gallery

Neutral palettes are a great place to start with open shelving in the kitchen. White dishes, wooden cutting boards, and creamy or clear canisters provide a lovely palette that is easy to switch around for special occasions or when you get bored. Start here and you won’t regret it.

3. Add A Splash Of Bright Color

open shelving kitchen ideas	View in gallery

Modern kitchens look good in white but all white and clear can be a little boring. Treat yourself to some eye candy in the form of a set of brightly colored bowls or display your big red soup pot. Just a smidge of color will help your open shelving feel friendly instead of stark.

4. Try Dual Tones

modern open shelving kitchenView in gallery

Looking to achieve color and calm at the same time? Go for the dual tone look. This works especially well with pastels. When your shelving is full of white and pale blue, it eases the eye more than collected dishes will but your shelves won’t look stark and modern in your farmhouse kitchen.

5. Embrace Mixed Metals

rustic open kitchen shelvesView in gallery

It’s inevitable that you will have some mixed metals among your kitchen gadgets. Consider bringing them out for display instead of hiding them away. Copper, brass, and stainless steel can be a lovely sparkly combination when you boldly put them together.

6. Style Your Metal

what to put on open kitchen shelvesView in gallery

If mixing metals hurts your eyes, there is nothing wrong with choosing one. Accents of gold can bring the bling to your kitchen shelving. Copper feels old and storied while stainless steel is modern and clean. Decide what kind of feel you’re going for first and style your metal from there.

7. Mix Textures

how to decorate open kitchen shelvesView in gallery

When you’re styling out your bookshelf or your couch, you think about both color and texture to bring depth to your space. Open shelving can work that way too. By adding a basket, a marble serving platter, and a wooden bowl, you bring together different textures instead of one flat ceramic look.

8. Always Add Plants

View in gallery

When in doubt, add plants. This is basically a universal decorating rule for all surfaces so obviously, open shelving is included. They are the perfect opportunity for something viney and trailing that will bring dimension to all of the shelves instead of just the one the pot sits on.

9. Mount Art Work

View in gallery

Want to know another open shelving trick to win? Art. Place your favorite piece of art on an open shelf to give you something pleasant to look at while you put away dishes. It will also make those open shelves impossibly chic and Instagram ready.

10. Place Antiques

View in gallery

Working on open shelving in your farmhouse kitchen? Time to go antiquing. Old pieces with pattern and age will do more for your open shelves than any new platter from Target ever will. Look for things that are useful so you aren’t filling your shelves with clutter.

11. Use Non-Conventional Decorations

View in gallery

Open shelving isn’t only for dishes and glassware. Give yours something unique that’s just you. Fill empty spots with candlesticks or cookbooks or wooden bowls. Decorate as much as you store for a well rounded set of open shelves. {found on amberinteriordesign}.

12. Play With Patterns

View in gallery

One super simple way to take your open shelves from modern masterpiece to family friendly is to add a pattern. Colored glasses with designs will be a fun addition to your shelves. Maybe some patterned bowls for ice cream. Opt for something that will make you and the kids smile, on and off the shelves.

13. Feel Free To Personalize

View in gallery

One of the best things about eclectic decorating is the permission to skip the rules and do what feels good to you. Fill your shelves with your favorite dishes, DIY storage, and that candlestick you bought in Iceland. If you want to display the orange bowl from your grandmother, go for it! Make your open shelves a place of joy in your kitchen.

14. Vary The Heights Of Your Decor

View in gallery

Whether you’re designing modern shelving or putting together an eclectic beauty, you always want to vary the height of what you have on display. Rows of dishes, all the same height is okay for storage but interest requires making the eye move up and down over your collection.

15. Change Your Décor With The Holidays

View in gallery

Don’t forget to change up your open shelving seasonally! Add some evergreen boughs for Christmastime. Display a pumpkin in the Fall. Bring out your lemonade pitcher in Summer. Switch out vases of flowers in Spring. Make your shelving reflect the seasonal decor in the rest of your home.

16. Storage Solution

View in gallery

Sometimes open shelving really is purely for storage, due to the size of the kitchen. In that case, don’t fret. Embrace it. Line up all your drinkware on your open shelves for easy access while cocktail making or hot chocolate sipping. Clear glassware will keep things from seeming too cluttered even if you’ve filled all the space on your shelves.

17. Fill Big Glass Jars

View in gallery

Need a spot to store snacks and baking supplies? Line your open shelves with big glass jars. Farmhouse kitchens in particular will benefit from this kind of storage, filling empty wall space in the kitchen in a practical yet beautiful way.

18. Hang Items From Hooks

View in gallery

Open shelving isn’t just a surface for storage. Use hooks underneath to double your space! Hang your mugs or cooking utensils or small pots and pans. It’s the perfect solution for small kitchens.

19. Put Your Corners To Work

View in gallery

Many times, it’s strange for open shelving to span just one wall. Don’t be afraid to turn the corner. Unlike cabinetry, where things that get pushed into dark corners are never seen again, corners in open shelving just provide a spot for maybe a bigger pot or pitcher.

20. Don’t Forget Light Fixtures

Open shelving sconce lightingView in gallery

Whether your kitchen is modern or rustic, or cluttered or clean, with one shelf or all shelving, consider adding sconces as a final touch. They’ll help you light up the darkest corners of your kitchen and highlight your beautiful open shelf styling against your kitchen cabinets.

21. Avoid Overcrowding

View in gallery

Just as empty open kitchen shelving will look a bit strange, so too will your shelves look strange if they are overloaded with items. Try to keep them clear of clutter, because if items are overcrowded, this may actually make your kitchen look smaller, even with the open cabinet design. If you have a small space such as this one featured in Small Space Designer, you can still get the most out of your shelving without piling them full of items by being organized and selective of the items you place.

22. Design Your Shelves With Mirrors

View in gallery

Everyone knows adding mirrors is the best way to make any small place seem bigger. Thus, if you have a small kitchen and are looking at open kitchen shelving to make it seem bigger, don’t hesitate to install mirrors above and below the shelves. You can also give your mirror a rustic look like this one featured in Architectural Digest for kitchens seeking a more rustic feel while still wanting to embrace the room expansion benefits of mirrors.

23. Decorate The Area Underneath

View in gallery

Open kitchen shelving may be saving you space, but this doesn’t mean you need to leave the area underneath your shelves barren. Consider leaning a wooden cutting board against the wall or possibly placing your glass jars here. Or if you use live herbs in your kitchen, this could be a great spot for these as well. In this kitchen by Pardon My French Blog, the area underneath the open shelving is used for appliances.

24. Display Your Collection

View in gallery

For those struggling to fill their open kitchen shelving, this is a great time to put something you may collect to use! Do you have shot glasses from all over the world? Arrange them on a higher shelf! Or maybe you have a bunch of small animal figurines, these could go on your shelves as well! Omenga PLC features a beautiful kitchen in which an old bottle collection is featured on the top shelf with a mixture of plants for a rustic look.

25. Check Your Shelves From A Distance

View in gallery

One of the most crucial things to remember as you go through the process of setting up and decorating your spacious open kitchen shelves is to step back and see how your shelves look from a distance. This can help you maintain balance and symmetry, especially when you have longer shelves, or two sections of shelves like in this kitchen on Just Organized. This way you can avoid an uneven look or feel in your kitchen.

26. Make A Pantry With Open Shelves

View in gallery

Have you fallen in love with open shelving yet? Beyond just the traditional open kitchen shelving which goes above your counter space, you may also want to consider creating a pantry with the open shelving system. This will make it much easier to find the exact ingredients when you need them! In Jen Loves Kev open shelving was used to make a pantry out of an unused wall in the kitchen.

27. Remove Cabinet Doors

View in gallery

If you are reading this article and are disappointed because your kitchen is still outfitted with regular kitchen cabinets, don’t fret! You can easily create open shelving out of your existing cabinets by removing the doors and sprucing up the inside with a paint job. The owners of this kitchen in Perfectly Imperfect Blog did just that, making their kitchen more modern and you can barely tell they weren’t open style shelving to begin with!

28. Start With A Few Small Shelves

View in gallery

Maybe you aren’t ready to take the leap into a kitchen full of open shelving just yet. And this is okay, you can start small with a few well-placed shelves in a place where you need more shelving but there isn’t room for a full cabinet. In Cabinet City, the owners of this kitchen enjoy three extra shelves of space to store their dishes and jars of ingredients while still maintaining their glassware in a cabinet.

29. Explore Alternative Shelving

View in gallery

When you think of shelving, you probably think of wooden boards attached to the walls. But this doesn’t always have to be the case. You can create your nontraditional shelves using metal, glass, or both, like these awesome hanging open shelves by Katie Hackworth. This is also the perfect time to consider repurposing old furniture, such as a door or wooden table as open shelves for your kitchen!

30. Cluster Items

View in gallery

This may sound a bit odd, but when you group your items into clusters this will make them more aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Take any jars you may have and cluster them into groups of no more than three. You can also cluster any collectibles you may have on the shelf. And you don’t have to just cluster items which are similar. You’ll be surprised by how good completely different items may look together like in this kitchen on Trendir.

31. Show Off Your Cookware

View in gallery

Although shelves are typically used for serving ware such as plates and bowls, don’t be afraid to use open kitchen shelving to display your pots and pans as well. You’ll benefit from this idea most if you have matching cookware such as in Mel And Liza Blogspot. But for people pots and pans don’t match, don’t write off this idea too quickly, as you can alternate your cookware with plates for a unique aesthetic.

32. Build A Bar

View in gallery

Always wanted a bar in your kitchen but never had the space? With open space kitchen shelving, you can quickly and simply create your bar on any open wall in your kitchen. Then you’ll just need to buy some fancy glassware and a shaker and you will be in business! This idea is probably best implied over a sink space like in Architectural Digest, but you can build a bar over any counter top space.

33. Organize Your Shelves According To Use

View in gallery

Besides just being selective of the items you place on your open kitchen shelves; you should also be aware of where you are putting items. For example, put the dishes and spices you use on a daily basis on a lower shelf that is easy to reach while storing that pan you only use for special events on the top shelf. You can even organize your items by where you will use them, such as in Inspired Kitchen Design, where the tea mugs are conveniently stored above the hot water boiler.

34. Use Baskets To Control Clutter

View in gallery

Baskets on open kitchen shelving are a great solution to manage clutter. Not only can you fill them with whatever you would like, but you can also label them for quick selection. Pick up a few and disperse them around your shelves like in this Digs Digs Kitchen. Even if you don’t have clutter to control, baskets can also be added to your shelving as decoration.

35. Pen A Positive Message

View in gallery

Now that you have spent hours making your kitchen look amazing with open shelving, it’s time for that final touch. Pick up a message board with lettering, or even just a simple chalkboard, and place it on your shelves. You can use it as a message board to remind yourself or your family how amazing life is! Or you may want to consider building your open shelves on a chalkboard background. Then you can use it to label where things should be placed like Next Luxury did for this cute coffee bar with open shelving!

Open shelving can be an amazing way to transform the entire look of your kitchen. Whether you are looking at open shelving to save you space, or to help you get more organized, it really is a sweet solution to all your kitchen storage problems. And not just that, but many of the tips on this list can be used to change your shelves to match each season of the year. So, no matter how many ideas you decide to employ from this list, your open kitchen shelves are sure to look spectacular all year round!