Organize & Clean

How To Know if You’re Ready for Open Kitchen Shelving

updated Mar 8, 2019
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Most of us love the idea of open kitchen shelving. It’s a romantic sort of notion— being able to reach certain kitchen elements without having to open a door first. But as much as you might love the look, how do you know if you’re ready to take the plunge? We’ve got four ways to tell if you’re suited to the style.

Go open up your kitchen cabinets right now. The ones you keep your dishes, bowls and plates in. What do you see? Take an honest look. Are there clean, visually understandable stacks? Or are things haphazardly shoved into the cabinets? If they’re already pretty nice looking, you might be able to easily transition into open shelving without a painful period of walking into your kitchen and being knocked over by how messy your open kitchen shelving is. Know yourself.

Are you already lacking in enough storage space? If you replace closed-door shelving with open shelving, you’ll be taking away storage space if you plan on mainly stocking the shelves with good-looking things. There might be items you don’t want visible and will have to find room in already tight, closed-door spots. But if you honestly think the shelves will provide enough storage for your displayable things and you’ll have enough behind-closed-door storage for your less pretty stuff, you might be ready.

Do you like the look of the kitchen stuff you own? If you hate your dinnerware, then you probably aren’t going to like it any better displayed on a shelf. Consider investing in a collection of kitchen items you love the look of first, and using that as motivation to switch to open kitchen shelving later on. If you’re sick and tired of hiding away your favorite dishes, though, you might be ready to try open shelving.

Will open shelving add to the look of your kitchen, or make it feel cluttered? This is a tough, only-you-can-answer question. Obviously, if it’s a question of needing the extra storage space, then of course, you’re ready to try open shelving. But if you don’t quite need the shelves, really evaluate your space, and try to imagine what it would look like. Would it feel open, airy, peaceful and calm? Or would it seem dominating, cluttered and too much? Only you can answer! We suggest combing through lots of open shelving photos to find inspiration:

Great Open Kitchen Shelving That Will Inspire You
• Even More Open Kitchen Shelving
Open Shelving in the Kitchen
• Look!: More Open Kitchen Shelving from Our Readers
• Kitchen Shelving Style: Open or Concealed?
• Kitchen Spotlight: Open Storage in Small Kitchens

So what’s the verdict? Do you think you’re ready for open kitchen shelving?

If you’re ready for the plunge, here’s a guide to making it happen once and for all:

  • Open & Uncluttered Kitchen Shelving: Get the Look

Re-edited from a post originally published 1.16.12 – JL