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Yay or Nay? Open shelves

September 26, 2014
Do you like the open shelf look in the kitchen?

Comments (93)

  • PRO
    Thos. Baker
    Nice update River Valley -- the cabinets are beautiful!

    Christi, on behalf of Thos. Baker
  • midmodfan
    The photo shows an absolutely impractical solution and plays into the hands of the nay sayers. I love the look of open shelves and do have some in the kitchen. They are no problem at all.
  • jn3344
    A friend of mine got rid of everything he didn't use in his kitchen. There wasn't much left! He had been a chef for a while so he cooked every day and did a lot of small dinners. He had open shelves.

    If I think about what I actually use, I probably cycle through the majority of that at least once a week. I don't have that many day-to-day dishes and I could probably place them on a shelf no problem.

    Last week I replaced some light fixtures in the kitchen. Boy they were gross. Really greasy. I don't think I would be happy with more than one open shelf.
  • makaloco
    Interesting about the grease, when so many people have range hoods. I was curious enough to check. My open shelf stuff is dusty (surprise, surprise, more than three months with windows open, remodeling going on, and a hurricane two weeks ago) but not greasy. I stir fry about twice a week and have no range hood or other exhaust system apart from the window.

    I can't imagine doing without upper cabinets, though. There's no better way to hide mismatched dishes and occasionally used cooking items while keeping them within easy reach. A mix of storage styles works best for me.
  • PRO
    River Valley Cabinet Works
    @Lynne Mysliwiec- I said "modern" because the old section of the house was built in the mid to late 1880's and most of the cabinets were newer than that.

    I can see the practicality of open shelves in a restaurant kitchen or a kitchen that is used all day, but do you really want to see that in the trendy open plan style?

    It;s also interesting to read about all the greasy dust. It sounds like there are a lot of people who have recirculating hood fans, an inadequate hood fan or they just don't use them.
  • magada
    But but pickyvicky … i don't think you realize that certain top trendies are paying visionary new designers an absolute fortune just to get that tight budget look ; rusty old iron sinks rescued from scrapyards, a grubby tired out lonely window hanging up somewhere and stuff like that.
    Well in fact probably all they do in their kitchens is nibble on half a lettuce leaf from time to time so no bad and after all it's appearances that count.

    In fact as a sharp trend forecaster i'm sure the next "must" will be StreetLiving so i'm currently stocking all the big crummy old cardboard boxes i can find and i'll be selling them to the rich and needy for only 100K/piece (special offer : 20% reduction if you place your orders NOW)

    Yep, no flies on this girl !
  • PRO
    Decorative Philosophy
    A wiser man than us once said a long time ago: "Form Follows Function" and it hasn't ever been said better regarding design. If kitchen cleanliness is not part of your "function" then go for it but there's no way that keeping all your kitchen things out is practical unless you have a daily cleaning service.
    Beautiful but Dumb.
    Karen & Joseph
    for Decorative Philosophy
  • feeny
    Functional, industrial style kitchens I would love to cook in:
    Jane Kim Design · More Info

    Kitchen · More Info

    Division Street · More Info
  • jn3344
    Love the kitchen's feeny! I would need help keeping them clean, however!
  • feeny
    I would too, but I'd still love to cook in one of them!
  • pam10222
    I am planning a kitchen remodel and look forward to a small area over my dishwasher with shelves. I'm only getting rid of one upper cabinet and rustic shelves there will add some charm and personality. The all cabinet look is boring to me. Bring on the casual vibe!
  • Melynda
    Open shelves can look marvelous, and work very well for the right people. Unfortunately, I am not a member of that tribe. A lousy housekeeper should not be allowed to have 'em. I spent a recent decade with only open shelves (mostly necessity as it is very impractical to hang uppers on the walls of a dome!) and they were extremely workable - but always untidy.

    I still love seeing the pretty pictures, 'though...
  • km kane
    I like the look, but my family isn't that organized, my stuff isn't that nice, and because I'm the only one that runs the vent hood, I fear the underused items would get dirtier much faster than they already do.

    But please, someone keep doing it so I can enjoy it vicariously!!!
  • km kane
    Wait! What am I talking about? I'm building a second / retirement house, and that kitchen does indeed have a few open shelves. Not all open shelves mind you, but some, and not near the range. The kidlings will be gone, and ostensibly, half the stuff in the cabinets.

    I'm not an ooey-gooey person who worries about having to wash my dinnerware "every single day" (c'mon people), so I think I'll be OK.

    Magada is my guru. And my super heavy duty range hood :) Better start getting organized. I've got three years to practice ;)
  • rachuba

    If you have cabinets that don't go to the ceiling, and you have put decor on top, here's an easy way to tell if open shelving is right for you. Get out the step ladder, and take down the decor. Clean it, put it back, and take it down again in two weeks. If it is covered in dust and grime again, open shelving may not be practical for you. I suggest two weeks, because while we all say, sure I'll clean it every week, life intrudes, and the best intentions fall away. And if you have pets, especially cats, forget shelves. Cats (at least mine) love heights, so they would find a way to get up those shelves, and have no problem knocking off any obstacles. 3 am plate breakage! And those of us with pets know that pet hair gets everywhere.

  • ninigret

    i guess open shelves are for me then. mine collect dust at a rate of "not actually visible but i know it must be there" every 3 months.

    i seriously think that some houses are dustier than others. i was spring cleaning a hutch ive had forever and there wasnt a single dust shadow when i took everything out, this after not having been touched for a year (it has doors). yet in our previous house that same hutch was dirty inside after 2 months. same cat, same humans, both houses even had gas fired forced hot air.

    go figure.

    in any case, being able to unload the dishwasher without opening and closing a single cabinet door would make it worth cleaning the shelves much more frequently.

    for the untidy, yes, you do have to not too many things. if every plate stack in your closed cabinet has 12 loose items sitting around it, open shelves are not for you.

  • PRO
    Valter and Anna fon Eynik

    Very love close cabinets. More ideas to make them beautiful and unique. But there are a lot of designs and sometimes people like minimalist's style, and depends from design open shelves could look more on their places and beautiful

  • adivra

    Every day I can write my name on the top of my microwave. There aren't enough hours in the week to clean surfaces and wash dishes, etc... on open shelves. Maybe one for decoration only.

  • Paige✌️
    I like it! I love the open concept shelves. I would add some art over the stove though.
  • PRO

    Although the the look is on trend lately, and can be quite good looking if staged or proped correctly, I find it to be a lazy solution that feels a bit unfinished.

    I much rather have cabinets with glass doors that show off your collectibles while still keeping the grease and dust off.

    While there are places where they will work just fine, such as a comercial kitchen, or a kitchen that is mostly for show, a normal everyday kitchen is probably not the best use for open shelves.

  • Tina
    No don't like them. I think it makes a kitchen look very cluttered.
  • natandalex

    With three cats and two kids it doesn't work, especially if the items on the open shelf aren't used regularly. Have an open cart in my dining room where I keep cloth napkins, placemats, candles, extra silverware (in a basket) and the cart shelves and contents need to be regularly dusted, washed or wiped down. Its nice to be able to have some of these items within easy reach or on display (and not behind glass), but its not worth the extra work especially when pressed for time. Time to trade in the old $100 microwave cart for a buffet with drawers and doors.

  • acm

    Nobody has things that are this well matched, at least not as they age and collect more stuff (and kids and junk and...). So they look nice when staged and minimalist, but I'd never let them near my own kitchen.

  • ffuturebright767
    Some open shelves are nice. I would not want to rinse out dishes before I use them.
  • lharpie

    Love my small (12") open shelves right beside my stove. It's just for oils, pepper, etc - things I use every time I cook that are annoying to open a cab for. Also keeps it a bit more open next to the hood. I love the look of open shelving for other storage, but really none of my things match and it would just look horrible and be dusty. Not to mention I live on a major earthquake fault.

  • PRO
    Executive Craftsman

    Not practical, cabinets with glass doors would be better.

  • pam10222
    We just finished our remodel and added a small section of open shelves made from pipe. I love the character it adds to the space. We also added a cabinet with glass too. It's nice to make a space your own!
  • sugarcakes2
    We actually use our kitchen for 3 family meals a day. I had open shelving in my last house and loved it so much I'm putting it in my current one. We had 2 days worth of dishes on them and it was easy to wipe the shelf part now and then. The dishes never have time to get dusty and the shelves are far enough from the stove to not get greasy. The open shelves make setting the table on the other side of the peninsula easier because they can be accessed from both sides.
  • Lisa Hershock
    I think a high end exhaust system that vents outside would take care of a lot of the grease
  • Wendy
    I have cabinets in my kitchen and stainless open shelves in the butlers pantry. Since the pantry is galley layout wth limited counter space, the shelves work great for getting things off the counter quickly to make way for prep space. This comes in really handy for parties and catered events. When not in use I store my favorite nice serving bowls and dishes on them and an indoor herb garden with a grow light. Love the look, but in main kitchen I like to keep the glasses and plates dust free.
  • DeeAnn Hoffmann

    Actually open shelves for me are easier to keep clean than closed cabinets. When the shelves are empty of the dishes because they are being used or are in the dishwasher, I clean of the shelves both bottom and top. The dishes I use most are on the shelf and they get used constantly. It's so easy to unload the dishwasher right onto the shelf and then set the table from those same dishes over and over again. Plates, cups, and mixing bowls are all used at least every other day. They are the things that are kept on my open shelf. They do not match perfectly, but just like my kitchen they are within a color range and so they look pleasing. I have to keep the clutter off this shelf which helps me be a little more disciplined about things I keep or even buy. A little bit of open shelving make my kitchen a little more visually appealing.

  • PRO
    Jenn Gers Design

    You find it hard to believe that the average wife and mother, or professional woman, has the time or inclination to wash everything on a monthly basis?
    Men don't clean?
    Now that will be looked back on as one of the most foolish ideas of the early 21st century ; )

  • Lisa Hershock
    I want to do all open cabinets on top for a kitchen Reno. My kitchen is small so I like the idea of the larger feel it will have. I also like the easy access because I am a cook. I think by spending for a top outside vented hood, it will take care of a lot of the grease. Thoughts? I want use reclaimed wood that won't show dirt as much as say white shelves.
  • PRO
    Prime Ohio Real Estate

    Are the open upper shelves substantially cheaper than cabinets? My wife wants them. Any, it does provide easy access and visibility. Things tend to get forgotten in cabinets.

  • couchgolfer

    No to open shelving, especially by the stove. I think the dishes would be coated in grease splatters and anything else being cooked. And then if you have pets, loose hair and dust floating around landing on the dishes.

  • Mon

    To me they seem to be the more modern casual version of the glass cabinet doors which I think added a more upscale appearance to the kitchen. I think they are a trend, in the kitchen they seem to add a cluttered look, I like open floating shelves in the bathroom because in there it can add a display of neatly placed toiletries, which in my opinion is benefiting to the space.

  • judrand05

    The look is fantastic. Why not install open shelves on top filled with a set of pretty dishes that are just for looks that you never use. Then below the open shelves, use cupboards with doors for the dishes you use daily. Never choose when you can have it all, I say.

  • Mon

    If we are putting the open shelving in the same category as the china cabinet, for your nice dishes to display I would still prefer that in the dining area. Plus I feel like it takes all the fun away from choosing your dream cabinets and fancy knobs! You want to display nice dishes in the kitchen on top of the cabinets is a nice compromise, they don't have to go to the roof and there's one big shelf all the way across..I'm sorry but to me they seem more like a downgrade and I'd rather upgrade.

  • bree's mom

    I love open shelves. I have three of them stacked on top of each other. One has a set of baskets devoted to linens (white). The remaining have dishes: bowls, plates (big and small), mugs and glasses. All of my dishes are white and coordinate. Since I have 4 in my household, 2 adults and 2 teens, we rotate through dishes pretty quick. I give the shelves a wipe down maybe once a week. Takes an extra 5-10 minutes. I've never noticed much of a grease build-up through (which seems to be a common concern for people who are not fond of the idea). I find open shelves really efficient. Note, I do have closed cabinets for other stuff that I don't use as often, or is not as visually appealing.

  • silviakunst
    Yes, I love the look if everything is perfect and the same color ....if not , NOT!
    Just clean it again before using .
  • Kim Q
    Yay!! But I just put some in. I added them as a design choice and design solution, not for storage. They are purely decorative and act as a stopping point for my backsplash tile. So pretty! I’m using them for cookbooks and maybe I’ll add a plant. My bananas and basket of fresh eggs are also up there. I don’t have a finished picture yet but this is my inspiration pic. I essentially did the same thing but I shortened the lower shelf about 6 inches away from the cooktop because of the grease splatter concerns. I also have mine dying into upper cabinets. I’m really happy with how it turned out. I’ll post a photo eventually.
  • felizlady
    When you cook, grease and fumes will be deposited on everything in that area unless your vent has an exhaust fan so powerful it nearly pulls the food out of the pan. I'm exaggerating, of course, but I would never put open shelving in the cooktop zone because of the warm, moist atmosphere in that zone.
  • charaj00
    I wanted to do this years ago but allowed myself to be swayed by others' opinions that it is not practical. My cabinets and drawers are very neat and there are lovely pieces of crockery hidden behind new cabinet doors. I did a few glass doors but still dream of open shelves.
  • loves to decorate
    I love the look personally, especially in smaller kitchens (helps them to feel less closed in, I think), but I believe shelves are more pretty than practical for MOST people. I think you really just need to decide if you are like 'most'. I personally believe if you are going to have open shelving it is imperative that you have attractive, co-ordinating dishes etc. and are somewhat anal. By that I mean, I think you should be prepared to put in a continual effort to display your dishes in a way that is pleasing to the eye, otherwise, what's the point? Cluttered, jumbled and/or bare shelves do not look attractive. And while I don't believe cleaning shelves should really be any more work than cleaning cupboard doors (other than being a horizontal surface rather than a vertical one) having to continually clean/dust what's on them is. If you are going to be using the dishes constantly (thereby washing them regularly) that should help to minimize any 'extra' cleaning, however it will likely also mean you will frequently have bare shelves, assuming, like most, that you use a dishwasher that doesn't get run through after every meal. Of course if you are super tidy, then it probably won't be a big deal for you to wash, dry and replace your dishes after each use either. There is no right or wrong here, it's just a matter of what you want and/or are willing to deal with.
  • kmkane123
    Abel is such s disgusting word. How about “focused”
  • km kane
    * “anal” .... I don’t think psychologists use this term as often as the rest of us
  • Jennifer Biddle

    i love the idea of open shelving. i am a mom of twins and a hungry husband. i am also a minimalist. if i dont use it i dont want it. i have 8 plates, 8 bowls and plastic cups. i only have 2 frying pans, a few pots and 2 baking dishes. this open concept is the best option for me. i also have a tiny house

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