Next time you feel bored with your kitchen, consider opening things up with open shelves. Inexpensive and easy to install, these shelves are making a comeback in kitchens.
An easy way to add additional storage, open shelving can be as simple as a couple of spice racks above a stove or as elaborate as a system that fills an entire wall with no upper cabinetry.
Can you live in the open?
As appealing as open shelves look, they require a certain temperament and personality. Remember, everything is exposed — including broken or chipped dishes and all those mix-matched beer mugs.
Before installing open shelves, conduct a stress test. Open all of your cabinet doors. Are you comfortable with what you see? If so, move forward. If not, perhaps you should start small with a few open shelves on a free kitchen wall. This can serve as a substitute for a china cabinet, which is — let's face it — so 50 years ago.
Remember, open shelves are exposed to more dust, so dishes may require constant dusting and rinsing. Also, the colors of your dishes become part of the décor. This can be maddening or fascinating, depending on your personality.
The type of materials you use impacts your kitchen’s style.
Stainless steel shelves compliment stainless steel appliances and help modernize a kitchen. Wood shelves provide warmth. Blend in a bit of whimsy with brightly painted shelves.
Glass shelves provide reflective qualities and sparkle in a kitchen flushed with natural light. To draw attention to a dish collection, use glass shelves with suspension cable brackets or shelves with no visible brackets, such the Trave aluminum brackets at The Container Store.
If you like dark woods but hate the heavy, traditional feel of walls full of dark cabinetry, try mounting dark wood open shelves instead.
Custom open shelving look best, but can be expensive. For a more affordable alternative, install rows of stock dark shelves side by side to create a custom cabinet-like kitchen. The Paxton shelves from West Elm, in chocolate-stained veneer, come in lengths of 2, 3 and 4 feet.
Brackets can alter or reinforce a design theme. For an antique look, choose shelves with antique black iron brackets. Transform a cold white modern kitchen with ornate antique bronze brackets under stainless steel shelving.
Go out or go up
Depending on the height of your ceiling and the layout of your kitchen, you can arrange shelves horizontally or vertically.
Mounting a long row of dark wooden shelves above a low window can compliment a kitchen’s horizontal lines. This works well in small galley kitchens.
Low ceilings benefit from horizontal shelving, which gives the illusion of expanded space. Mounting shelves vertically can make a kitchen with high ceilings feel cozier. This makes kitchens in loft-style apartments perfect for vertical shelving.
Removing a soffit in an older kitchen can provide a blank slate for installing open shelves.