Tips for Making Open Kitchen Shelving Aesthetic AND Useful

Open shelving just might be the hottest kitchen trend right now. It’s a spacious and airy and color-coordinated touch to the kitchen space. The beautiful thing about open shelves is that your exposed items can be shared with everyone who comes near!…which, frankly, is also the challenging thing about open shelves. There is undoubtedly a balance to strike in stocking shelves to make them both functional and visually pleasing.

This article contains some successful examples of open shelving in the kitchen; however, you won’t be able to embrace all of them in a single space. See if you can find one that speaks to you, and work toward recreating the look in your own kitchen, with your own treasured pieces.

One or Two Colors.

Open shelves colorful dishes

This strategy isn’t hard to understand, really. Because everyone will be able to see, immediately, the objects on your shelves, one way to tie the items to the room’s style is through color. Particularly in a monochromatic kitchen, using one or two colors in the items you display will define or solidify the color palette of the space and bring a cohesiveness into the space overall. Notice in the kitchen above, dark yellows and creamy whites create the color in the otherwise neutral kitchen.

Simple Shelving.

Open shelves colorful dishes

Despite what is on them, if the exposed shelves themselves are kept simple, the look overall will be more cohesive because the shelves won’t be visually competing with the set items. In the eclectic example here, plain white shelves recede into the background while the colorful and personality-filled variety of items comes to the forefront. This open-shelf space brings me joy every time I see it; I can only imagine the happiness that comes as a result of this charming, bright kitchen.

Monochromatic Backsplash.

Open shelves colorful dishes

Just as keeping the shelf’s exposed items themselves confined to one or two colors will unify the space, having a monochromatic backsplash or wall tile will also unify the kitchen as a whole no matter how many colors are on display. This wall, for example, covered in mini white subway tile, makes the open shelving feels airy and also cohesive, even with a variety of the displayed items’ colors and styles and sheens and materials. (Colors here are kept to a white or pale-ish color palette, but this monochromatic backsplash concept holds true even when items are much more disparate.)

Less is More.

Open shelves colorful dishes

Forget “decorating” your exposed kitchen shelves. Just store the essentials in a perfectly simple and functional way. Keep tchotchkes off the shelves completely and go only with items that you use every day. Particularly when the items are all-white (or clear) like in this example, this minimalist look is super refreshing.

Match Style of Open Shelves to Style of Your Kitchen.

Open shelves colorful dishes

If you love, and the rest of your house showcases, a certain style, then make sure your open shelving matches that style. For example, if your kitchen is French farmhouse or rustic industrial, refrain from turning your open shelving into a minimalist-modern showcase. So many style options are available for open shelving in the kitchen, from the shelf itself to corbels, color and materials options, etc., that it really should coordinate and flow with the rest of your kitchen. I can’t help but love how the homeowners embraced their own country cottage style in this example.

Picture sources: 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.