Do You Have What it Takes to Live with Open Kitchen Shelving?

As previously seen on Wit & Delight


I find myself lusting after perfectly tiled, open-shelf kitchens on Pinterest and Instagram far too often. Like multiple times a day. No matter how many kitchens I design, I just can’t get enough! Why is it that the heart of a home always seems to reside in the kitchen where the food is made, heart-to-hearts are had, and the fresh coffee brewed? Before Joe and I redid our kitchen I often wondered to myself, what does it really take to be an open-shelf person? Does this type of person need to own perfectly-matching-unchipped-plates, cohesive glasses that only come in even numbers and fend off daily clutter like it’s their 9-5 job? Probably, I thought. Now that we have open shelving in our kitchen at home and in two kitchens within the studio, I thought it would be nice for me to put together what it really takes to be an open-shelving person. Here is a list of the top six things to consider before (and after) tearing out your kitchen cabinets. This list will help you get ahead of your new kitchen remodel and decide if this whole open-shelving lifestyle is really for you!

The 6 Things To Consider Before Tearing Out Your Kitchen Cabinets – Wit & Delight

1. How are your dishes and glassware? Is anything chipped? Do any of your glasses or dishes come in an odd number? Purchase a couple of new sets that stack and align nicely and put those beauties on display!

The 6 Things To Consider Before Tearing Out Your Kitchen Cabinets – Wit & Delight

2. Do you have set spots for appliances? I often store the larger clunkier appliances such as blenders, mixers, crockpots etc. that aren’t in everyday use in an accessible cabinet nearby.

The 6 Things To Consider Before Tearing Out Your Kitchen Cabinets – Wit & Delight

3. How will you display things like your snoozy pantry items? Clear glass containers can be cute or you could do a hodgepodge of colorfully designed pottery containers too. I’m loving wicker, marble, and copper containers right now too for your kitchen.

The 6 Things To Consider Before Tearing Out Your Kitchen Cabinets – Wit & Delight

4. How many shelves do you want (or need)? A few? A ton? The sky is the limit here and you can change this up depending on what each wall looks like in your kitchen. I also like the thought of wider shelves that can hold a wider array of larger or longer items.

The 6 Things To Consider Before Tearing Out Your Kitchen Cabinets – Wit & Delight

5. How will you accessorize? With plants, books or trinkets? I love adding a mixture of all of these items. I often need to remind myself that less is more, though. Because keeping clutter to a minimum always looks best!

The 6 Things To Consider Before Tearing Out Your Kitchen Cabinets – Wit & Delight

6. Can you keep it neat? I find myself dusting and decluttering weekly and more often with open shelves. In a way, this is good because I’m less likely to store all my “stuff” away and let unnecessary or unwanted bowls, tupperware or glassware pile up.

Image sources: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7

  • agreed and inspiring choice of kitchens, I especially like white on white with subway tile backsplashes like in the first photo, it feels so clean and productive

  • I don’t think open shelves work well for most of us. They are extremely hard to keep up with and in the long run sleek cabinets with a good finish to them will always look a lot more neat, clutterfree and an upgraded option. So I definitely don’t recommend open shelves to my clients unless their budget is really tight.

  • My rental apartment has an open-shelved kitchen, so I know for a fact that I do not have what it takes. Everything I own is mismatched, there is not nearly enough space to store appliances, pantry items, and other stuff. It’s a source of constant anxiety for me, but it’s an important experience, because I know now that, while absolutely gorgeous, open-shelved kitchen is not for me – something I will remember when renovating my own place.