Open Shelving Kitchen Guide

Kitchen Shelves Guide to Create an Instagram Worthy Kitchen

Do you know that open kitchen shelves can add interest to your wall and offer minimalist storage? Open shelves create an open, airy feel in a small kitchen and offer a stunning visual. When you opt for an open-shelving kitchen, you can display your favorite art, objects, crockery, or trinkets and give a modern and clean look to your kitchen. But this style is not suitable for everyone.

If you’re a busy homeowner, you should not opt for open kitchen shelving as they need regular maintenance and care else. They can easily become cluttered and look untidy. Consider open kitchen shelves as a design element and not the main storage option.

One of the advantages of open kitchen shelving is that they align well with almost every interior design style. If you’re looking for ways to creatively display vases, plates, and other trinkets on your kitchen shelf, check out the ideas mentioned below.

Ideas to Make Open Kitchen Shelves the Centerpiece of Your Kitchen

Let’s take a look at open kitchen shelves ideas to add a unique touch to your walls and showcase decorative items hidden behind cabinet doors.

1. Display Antiques

Display Antiques

Antique kitchenware has a unique visual effect, so don’t hide them away behind closed cupboard doors. Open kitchen shelves can be the perfect place to show off your treasured collectible items. From silver platters to wooden boards and glass bowls, you can showcase a wide variety of antiques on open kitchen shelves.

Larger items like silver pans, colanders, and pots will look awkward to display on open shelves, so you can put hooks on the wall to display them. Don’t put too many items on the open kitchen shelves, or else they will look cluttered and become an eyesore. If you don’t want to install open kitchen shelves, you can remove your cupboard doors or opt for glass-front cabinets.

2. Add Ambient Lighting

Add Ambient Lighting

Lights can play an important role in enhancing the beauty of your open kitchen shelves’ decorative pieces. With the help of ambient lighting, you can give all the attention to the pieces you display on the shelves. You can use under-cabinet lighting to highlight each item placed on the open kitchen shelf. This way, even ordinary pieces will shine in the night and look visually appealing.

Using under-cabinet lighting also removes unwanted shadows leading to a clear view of the decorative pieces. Even the deepest corners of the open kitchen shelf can have ample light with the help of an under-cabinet lighting system.

3. Assess Your Collection

Assess Your Collection

Your open kitchen shelf should have a thoughtful collection of your favorite items. Display only the items that you use on a daily basis. Keep your collection minimal, or else the open kitchen shelf will look cluttered.

Don’t use all the available space. Rather, leave some gap between the items you place. Store items like plates, glasses, mugs, and bowls on the top shelf so that you can access the dishware easily. Putting daily used items on shelves can avoid the issue of dust buildup.

If you place items that are used occasionally, they will sit for long and accumulate dust and grime. Don’t make the mistake of storing food storage containers, spare items, or anything that is chipped on your open kitchen shelf, as it will give an untidy look.

4. Create a Coffee Bar

Create a Coffee Bar

If you want to have an ultimate cafe-like experience at your home, then why not convert your open kitchen shelves into a coffee bar? You can do this simply by adding a few shelves above the coffee pot. This will save you from remodeling your entire kitchen yet help you in creating an at-home coffee station. Gather all the essentials, like your coffee machine, sugar, ground coffee, flavored syrup, and mugs, and find a central spot to arrange them.

Display your coffee mugs and premium coffee on the shelf and grab them as soon as you wake up to relish a delicious cup of coffee. Place the coffee machine just below the shelf so that you don’t have to go anywhere to make and enjoy your coffee.

5. Mix Dishware with Accessories

Mix Dishware with Accessories

One of the most interesting arrangements for open kitchen shelves is mixing dishware with beautiful accessories. If you only place plain white dishware on your shelf, it will make your kitchen look gloomy. Go for copper mule mugs or classic rich-blue water glasses to give character and a pop of color to your kitchen. You can also place a potted plant and a few cookbooks to make your collection look interesting.

Gather trays, vases, candlesticks, pretty sculptures, and other decorative accents that align with the palette of your kitchen. You can visit thrift stores to buy interesting accessories and inexpensive artwork that will uplift the vibe of your kitchen.

Mix both decorative and practical items to get the right balance of functionality and style.

6. Play with the Dimensions of the Items

Play with the Dimensions of the Items

Do you know that one of the best ways to add interest to a space is by using items in varied shapes and sizes? You have to do the same while arranging your open kitchen shelves. Start with your largest objects, like tall vases, bottles, or framed art, and spread them out in a linear fashion across the shelves. Now use medium-sized pieces to fill in the gaps. While arranging the decorative pieces, space out items with similar shapes, patterns, or colors for a balanced look.

Once you’re done, stand back and see how everything looks together. If it doesn’t look appealing to you, move the tall item to the middle shelf and see if you like the new arrangement. You’ll have to keep making amendments to the position of the objects until you get the desired look.

7. Embrace Empty Space

Embrace Empty Space

While arranging your kitchen, open shelves leave some open areas to prevent the space from looking chaotic. When too many items are placed on the shelf, it may look cluttered. Think about putting your favorite collectibles on the shelves and switching them out in different seasons.

This is the best way to keep your favorite items looking fresh, as you’ll see them for a limited span and won’t get bored looking at them. When the season changes, your collection will also change. This will not only appeal to the guests but will also make your kitchen look fresh.

8. Decorate the Space Underneath the Shelf

Decorate the Space Underneath the Shelf

When decorating your open kitchen shelves, don’t leave the space underneath empty. If the areas around your shelves are untidy or cluttered, it will make even the most prized collection look unappealing. Ensure that the area underneath and around the shelves is clean and well-accessorized. You can add potted herbs or a bowl of fruit for freshness or lean a few wood cutting boards or colorful utensils against the wall for warmth and texture.

You can play with the size and shape of the items you place underneath the shelf to create a lasting impression. Don’t place vegetable cutting boards or mixer grinders, as they won’t look good considering the symmetry of the space.

9. Color Coordinate Dishes

Color Coordinate Dishes

You can even go with a particular theme while arranging the items on your open kitchen shelves. For example, you can designate one color for each shelf and place items of similar color. You can place teal dishware on one shelf and blue plates on the other shelf. If you don’t find utensils or decor items in a similar color, you can also arrange items having similar textures or designs on one shelf.

This way, your open shelf will become the stand-out piece in your kitchen. When your guests visit your home and see your shelf, they will appreciate the time and effort you have put in arranging it with different hues, patterns, and colors.

10. A Stand Alone Shelf

A Stand Alone Shelf

If you don’t have a place to install open shelves in your kitchen, it doesn’t mean you can’t showcase your treasured collection. You can place a stand-alone shelfin any corner of your kitchen and showcase your decorative items. A multi-tier stand-alone shelf will give you plenty of space to put your favorite items. You can also move it from one place to another, making it very convenient to accommodate in your kitchen. You can use it to showcase smaller essentials like pepper shakers and coffee cups and tall items like glass vases and wood cutting boards.

When placing them, ensure there is some distance from the wall, or else they might cause scratches or dents on the wall while you try to shift them to another place.

11. Mix Whites and Wood

Mix Whites and Wood

Wood shelves look good in all types of kitchens, whether modern, contemporary, farmhouse, or traditional. The best way to decorate open wood shelves is with white dishware or decorative items. Place white decorative items in different shapes and sizes to make your shelves stand out. Don’t place items that have lost their sheen or are stained as white reflects even the slightest of irregularities.

The combination of white and wood has always been the best, so you can embrace it in your kitchen and leave your guests in awe. You can also use cabinet lighting to make this combination stand out.

12. Avoid a White Background

Avoid a White Background

Your kitchen display won’t look good with a stark-white background. White is a very toned-down color, so it won’t add any interesting detail or complement your kitchen display decor. If your walls are white in color, you can either use decorative peel-and-stick wallpaper or stick with a tiled back to make the background stand out.

The best thing about peel-and-stick wallpaper is that you can always remove it in case you get bored looking at it and paste a new one. If you can’t do anything to change the appearance of white walls, you will have to decorate your kitchen display with vibrant and colorful materials to ensure that you add some interest to your kitchen.

13. Pegboard Storage

Pegboard Storage

Pegboard was used in craft room walls and garages for organizing supplies and hand tools, but now it has made its way into the kitchen. Pegboards can be handy in compact kitchens that don’t have enough drawers or cabinets for storage. You can display your kitchen tools and utensils on the pegboard. Mount a pegboard and use hooks to hang your cooking utensils, pots, and pans.

This storage solution will add a decorative touch to your kitchen and save your cabinet space. You can also turn the pegboard into your pantry. Use a bunch of baskets in random sizes to hold items like pasta and spices. Install a pegboard away from your cooktop to minimize contact with cooking oil and steam.

14. Arrange in Odd Numbers

Arrange in Odd Numbers

Make your open kitchen shelf feel more balanced by arranging the items in odd numbers. This is the trick that even interior designers swear by while organizing the shelves. Always group things in fives or threes and uneven numbers. Odd numbers create a sense of balance and are easier on the eye. Incorporate plants, art pieces and group odd numbers of objects.

You can start with large pieces and downsize accordingly. Consider a single frame or group of three trinket boxes rather than two, six, or four.


Whether you’re improving your pantry organization setup or restyling your kitchen decor, open kitchen shelves can add depth and make your kitchen feel more welcoming.

But you need to keep certain things in mind while arranging your cherished items on your kitchen shelves to ensure that it looks balanced. Decorate the space underneath the shelf, add ambient lighting, layer items, and combine textures to give your open kitchen shelves a polished look.

Regularly wipe and dust down the shelves and your items with a damp cloth to keep everything tidy. You can also check out the kitchen open shelves ideas mentioned above to update your kitchen and show off your personality.

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