Here’s How One HGTV Star Chooses Between Upper Cabinets or Open Shelves

published Feb 7, 2022
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Empty walls are meant to be filled, not just for design, but for functionality — especially when you’re dealing with tight quarters. And when it comes to the kitchen, there’s no doubt that cabinetry is a longtime favorite for storage, but in recent years, open shelving has risen in popularity. So, which one is better to install on your empty wall?

For HGTV star Hilary Farr, who is famously known for “Love It or List It” and is host of the new show “Tough Love with Hilary Farr,” it’s not an easy answer because it entirely depends on your intentions, which she mentioned during her interview with Apartment Therapy. But if used for functionality, Farr sides with open shelving. 

“I actually like shelving as solutions. Very often, open shelving will go where a full cabinet — which would have to extend a good 12 to 14 inches — is going to [go],” Farr told Apartment Therapy. “Open shelving gives you a certain amount of storage but works so it only has to be 8 to 10 inches, if that.” 

Credit: HGTV

However, that’s if you’re using open shelving for functional use. If you end up choosing open shelving strictly for the design aesthetic, Farr changes her answer completely. “If you’re doing it just as a design hit and you could put another cabinet in there, I would go in the upper cabinet,” Farr said. 

A happy medium is installing cabinets with glass doors, Farr explained. That way, you can still put items on display and prevent your kitchen storage from feeling too closed in while maximizing your space. And you can always mix glass fronts with traditional cabinet doors — that way, you don’t have to commit to always having your storage items showing (which you might be grateful for later on).

So whatever kitchen storage you choose to go with, the HGTV pro suggests you keep functionality top of mind.

Tough Love with Hilary Farr” airs new episodes every Monday at 9/8 central on HGTV and Discovery+