This week, one year ago, my husband installed open shelving in our kitchen. Now that I’ve had the chance to really live with it I thought I’d write a quick post about how it’s going.
I get more questions about what it’s like to have open shelves than any other detail in our house. I get it. They’re beautiful, but they seem complicated. So what’s the deal, is it worth it?
First up, open shelving looks great. But it only looks great when styled well, which it probably is in every blog or magazine picture that you’ve seen. Keeping open shelving styled well requires creativity but isn’t impossible. You might end up having to mix a few things that you rarely use in with ones that you always use just because they look great. You will also need to buy kitchenware that looks good. For example, plastic OXO containers are awesome for keeping flour, sugar, etc. but you won’t be buying them if you have open shelves. Instead you’ll probably settle for a ceramic or glass set that functions well AND looks stylish.
This part is the bitch. You have to commit yourself to cleaning your shelves every few weeks. And by cleaning I don’t just mean lazily hitting them with a dust rag. I mean taking off every single piece, wiping down the shelf and dusting off and/or Windex-ing every item on display. It’s amazing how much dust and dirt can collect in a 14-21 day span. To make this easier on you, take a picture of the shelves before you remove everything, it will make putting it all back in place a breeze. Also, err towards your modern, minimalist tendencies when decorating. And finally, jam out to some Taylor Swift (or whatever your favorite get-up-and-go music) and make it fun, because you’re going to LOOOOVE the outcome. I promise.
Open shelving is super functional. Putting away dishes takes about two seconds because you’re not opening cupboards trying to see where things go. I’ve even had guests put things away instead of leaving them out on the counter (thanks y’all)! And before I have people over, I love standing in the middle of my kitchen mentally matching serving pieces and dishware, which is super easy when you can see all of it. I also notice that I often change up what I use because none of it is ever ‘packed away.’ And for someone, like me, who hasn’t met a dishware set I don’t like, this is a good thing!
- Be sure you also have easily accessible closed storage too. For me, lots of open storage has been great, but it’s only possible because I have decent closed storage as well. This will especially be true when the baby comes – nobody wants to see all of my multi-colored bottles and suction-cup bowls.
- I wasn’t joking about the every few weeks deep cleaning routine. Don’t go all open shelves if this is something you can’t or won’t do. You’ll drive yourself crazy. Maybe try a mix of open shelves and upper cabinets first. That look is the best of both worlds.
- If you have a galley kitchen (or just a small kitchen in general) like we do, open shelving really does open up the space. I’ve even had a few people tell me my kitchen is big. Ah! Yay!
- Open shelving is significantly cheaper than cabinets, especially if you install them yourself (which you can, link here.) However, be aware that you might end up spending more on what you put on the shelves over time. No more cheap plastic stuff because everyone will see it. In the end, you’ll still save money, cabinets are expensive, but be aware of the hidden costs.
And that’s about it! I love our open shelving, but it does require more maintenance than traditional cabinets. In our case the pros outweighed the cons and we’re definitely enjoying our kitchen as is. I hope this helped anyone considering open shelving, if you have any other questions feel free to leave them in the comments!