30 Kitchens That Will Make You Rethink Open Shelving

When thinking of giving the kitchen an upgrade, going for an open shelving kitchen design is not as common for many homeowners. Yes, it is a relatively cheap kitchen upgrade idea, but why are homeowners not quick to go this route? Well, not everyone is comfortable exposing their cutlery and kitchenware out in the open. The common misconception is that it makes the kitchen look messy and chaotic. 

While there is some truth in this line of thinking, you should know that with a little design and order to the existing chaos, open shelving design will elevate the visual appeal and add some personality to your kitchen (via Southern Living). Other than that, there are many perks that come with this unique design; for instance, you will have a stage to display your top-of-the-range cutlery. Regardless of your kitchen décor, there is always a way of incorporating open shelving in your home. If you are still not sure where to start, here are a few examples that should help point you in the right direction.

1. Go rustic

If your intention is to achieve an urban farmyard design right in your kitchen, how about using reclaimed wood for your hanging shelves? Reclaimed wood with a little polishing will look great for a sleek farmhouse vibe. In this particular kitchen, the wooden open shelves look right at home, especially with a bright white background for contrast. Also, notice how the granite countertop complements the colors of the shelves?

2. A few for starters

If you are still not very comfortable displaying your kitchenware out in the open, fret not as you can always start with a few shelves on one specific side of your kitchen. Only put on display your luxurious cutlery and store the rest in the closed cabinets. This gives you some privacy and a stage for a little showing off. This particular kitchen is just an example of how you can pull this off; the beauty of this kitchen is undeniable.

3. Shelves over a stove

Floating shelves right over the stove give you quick access to some of the frequently used kitchenware. Most kitchen designs feature a hood right above the stove, leaving some space in between. Depending on the size of this space in your kitchen, you can squeeze in one or two floating shelves for easy access. Take a look at the example above and draw some inspiration.

4. Creative display

You don't need a lot of space to install enough shelves in your kitchen — get creative and make use of the available space. This example shows a kitchen with alcoves carved right into the wall of the kitchen. While the space is limited, there are plenty of small shelves installed on the wall and in the far corner on the right. The wooden decor remains consistent on the shelves and also on the countertop. A white and wood combo is elegant and will work for any kitchen.

5. Hanging storage and open shelving

Open shelving and a separate space for hanging smaller utensils like spoons make a great combination. It is the ideal combo for easy storage and quick retrieval of frequently used utensils in your kitchen. Notice how the cooking spatulas are strategically placed near the stove for quick access whenever necessary?

6. Center stage

What do you do when you want an eye-catching display stage for your kitchenware and an impressive assortment of spices? You simply install open shelving with an accent color. With such an outstanding color choice, you don't need a huge space to create attention — carve open storage right in the corner as demonstrated in this example and showcase your spice collection and luxurious cookware.

7. Small shelves for a small kitchen

Keep things organized and neat in your small kitchen using open shelves. A small kitchen with limited kitchenware does not need a lot of storage space. A few shelves on the wall and a few cabinets under a kitchen island as displayed above are more than enough. The rustic wooden design in this tiny kitchen remains consistent and gives off a farmhouse feel. 

8. Cute kitchen cubbies

Adding an extra dimension of small open wooden storage right underneath the cabinets of your kitchen is quite creative. The design gets even more interesting if the added open storage takes the form of tiny cubbies as demonstrated in the example above. This design is helpful in the scenarios where you need just a few extra storage compartments but you are short of space. Squeeze a thin section of open storage compartment right under the wall cabinets

9. Open storage galore

Open storage does not have to be limited to the wall shelves in your kitchen — create additional space on the idle island. A larger household with many people definitely has plenty of kitchenware that needs ample storage. This particular kitchen has plenty of open storage spaces for both kitchenware and also a small library of books. The deliberate separation of the white open shelves on the wall with brown discrete cabinets creates a beautiful contrast and gives a classy contemporary vibe.

10. Short sturdy shelves

One major advantage of using shelves for open storage rather than an inbuilt cupboard is the flexibility in terms of the location and size of the shelves in your kitchen. Make use of the tiny corner at the edge of your wall cabinets to set up a floating shelf for your spices, extra cutlery, and also a couple of recipe books. This is not all — if you still have some space left, you can squeeze in a few plants to brighten up the space.

11. Mini pantry

No pantry? No problem! Make use of the extra space on your walls in the kitchen and DIY a couple of floating shelves for your assortment of spices and other cooking ingredients. This is an amazing idea for those extra small kitchen spaces. In this particular example, the storage space features wooden shelves paired with a wicker basket for a consistent color scheme. The greenery brings in the necessary contrast, making the space appealing and inviting.

12. Bring out the patterns

While most modern kitchen decor features a simple monochrome color palette, experimenting with some colors and patterns will surely separate you from the rest. Installing floating shelves with a splash of color and patterns for a backdrop not only gives you an attractive display stage but is also an opportunity to bring out your artistic side. Install a mosaic backsplash on your wall and wooden shelves as demonstrated above.

13. Mind some symmetry

Bringing balance into your kitchen design means paying close attention to the positioning and arrangement of everything, including the open shelving storage. While open storage gives you the luxury of installing shelves wherever you want, proper placement goes a long way in bringing organization and cohesion to your kitchen space. The symmetrical placement of shelves as demonstrated above reduces clutter and makes the space more organized.

14. Minimalistic shelves

Open shelves are great in providing quick access to frequently used things around the kitchen. However, they do not necessarily have to take the attention of other beautiful design elements in your kitchen. Minimalistic shelves give you extra storage and also design discretion if you don't want them to stand out. This white sturdy floating shelf disappears right into the white background, therefore, not taking away attention from the beautiful tiles.

15. Shelves in a quiet corner

When in need of extra storage space, think about that awkward idle corner where nothing seems to fit. In such scenarios, wooden floating shelves could fit right into this space, giving you extra storage for your kitchen items. This is especially helpful when you are dealing with unique and awkward corners where it would be impossible to fit a full, stand-alone cabinet. It is worth mentioning that shelves give you endless storage options even in the spaces you had previously dismissed.

16. Use every square inch

In a tiny kitchen area without much space to spare, every square inch counts. Install open cabinets around the windows and the remainder of the wall spaces to accommodate your kitchenware. Instead of huge, spaced-out cabinets, go for smaller cubbies that bring everything together and within reach. This approach allows you to make use of every space available without making the space feel cluttered.

17. Creative floating panty

Your options are only as limited as your creativity, especially when working with open shelving ideas in your kitchen. For the small kitchen spaces, finding a space big enough for an inbuilt pantry is not always possible and a creative floating pantry made of wood and rope might just be what you are looking for. You can customize the size to fit into any idle space in your kitchen.

18. Custom open cabinetry

This open cabinet with a traditional flare fits right at home in this kitchen with the wooden theme blending seamlessly with the rest of the decor. The twin cabinets installed right next to each other feature a separate space for storing plates on one cabinet and pottery on the other. 

19. Bright white

When dealing with a white color palette, there is a fine line between elegance and a boring sterile vibe. The major distinction is how you accessorize this space. The example above features a bright white kitchen with white shelves. The white-on-white setup is ideal for consistency, especially since the granite surface brings the necessary contrast. Notice the hanging hooks at the bottom of the shelves for additional storage?

20. Function and fun

It goes without saying that the primary purpose of kitchen shelves and cabinets is to store the necessary kitchenware. However, you don't always need to play by the rules — throw in a couple of design elements like books and flower vases to elevate the appeal of your kitchen and give it a personal touch. Remember, the small distinct details that only apply to you are what make you stand out from the rest.

21. Color coordinate

The aesthetics of your kitchen largely depend on your creativity in both the shelving design and also the arrangement of kitchen essentials on the shelves. One brilliant hack that will bring harmony and cohesion to your kitchen setup is color coordination. You have the option of assigning each shelf one unique color or including one color scheme for every shelf as shown in this example.

22. Island with open shelves

You don't have to limit the open storage in your kitchen to shelves and kitchen cabinets. While your walls can accommodate a lot of shelves or cabinets, your kitchen island can also help with a few storage compartments. A kitchen island with plenty of open storage is an asset in your kitchen. It helps declutter the countertop by giving you easy storage for countertop appliances like an air fryer and other kitchen essentials.

23. Coffee bar

If you are a coffee lover, go ahead and recreate this coffee station using open shelves in your kitchen. A dark theme for a coffee bar makes perfect sense, so consider installing a dark walnut wood shelving on a black backdrop as shown above. Create your own little coffee nook right in your kitchen and put your brewing necessities out on display.

24. Floating shelf and a magnetic strip

If you already have enough cabinets for your kitchenware, then you can install a single hanging shelf in a strategic location for your spices and other cooking ingredients. Also, installing a magnetic strip that holds your collection of knives gives you quick access whenever necessary, and also an opportunity to show off.

25. Hanging rack

The value of a hanging rack for some kitchen essentials is often overlooked as far as kitchen open storage is concerned. However, a hanging rack is a great addition to any kitchen because it helps free up space in the already packed cabinets and shelves. It is also a great place to hang your luxurious cookware for display.

26. DIY kitchen shelf

If budget is not on your side and you need extra storage in your kitchen, go ahead and DIY one. A DIY shelf doesn't need to follow any particular plan, allowing you to get creative and customize a design that you like. This particular DIY kitchen shelf is simple yet unique and adds a lot of personality to your kitchen.

27. Shelves by the window

If you have more than enough windows in your tiny kitchen, convert one into a storage area that also doubles as a stage for displaying your elegant kitchenware. Install decent small cubbies that will not make the space look cluttered up. Pair this open shelf with other open cabinets and you will have more than enough storage.

28. Less is more

Contrary to popular belief, open shelving on the wall doesn't get in the way of the aesthetic appeal of your kitchen. In fact, if you install them right, shelves improve the visual appeal a lot. This particular example features a setup that involves just a few open aluminum floating shelves that hold a few kitchen essentials. Installing smaller shelves on a wall leaves the kitchen looking neat and also gives you room for easier remodeling in the future.

29. Cubbies above the sink

It is common to have cabinets right above the sink; however, in order to make this space more functional, you can install an open shelf right below the cabinets. This space here is ideal for storing cleaning essentials and also smaller cookware. It also serves as grab-and-go storage for your spices or coffee brewing essentials.

30. Up the contrast with floating shelves

Introduce some contrast to the all-white kitchen space with bold gray hanging shelves. As much as the shelves are for functional purposes in the kitchen, there is no denying how these grey shelves bring in a much-needed contrast to an otherwise sterile kitchen. The shelves are also placed strategically for symmetry and balance.