16 Kitchen Shelf Ideas That Will Double Your Storage Space

published Dec 14, 2019
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No decoration is quite as versatile as the humble kitchen shelf. Fusing style with practicality, kitchen shelves serve as a resting place for dining essentials like cups and plates as well as ornamental items like vases, plants, and artwork. If you live in a small space, kitchen shelves could be considered more of an essential than an option. They can provide much-needed storage and even replace the need for expensive cabinetry altogether, if installed thoughtfully. 

But if a quick search for “kitchen shelf ideas” is any indication, there’s an overwhelming amount of options when it comes to shelf style, decor, placement, and the like. In an effort to cut through the noise, we’ve gathered our 16 favorite kitchen shelf ideas below. Hopefully, one of these gorgeous kitchens will inspire you to hang a shelf—or several—in your own cookspace.

1. Add Artwork

Kitchen shelves are a natural home for cooking tools like blenders, coffee grinders, salt and pepper shakers, and the like. But adding artwork into the mix, as seen in this DeVOL kitchen, will breathe life and personality into this traditionally utilitarian space.

2. Make Use of a Tight Spot

Both sets of Lara’s floating kitchen shelves make excellent use of otherwise wasted kitchen storage space. If you have an awkward cabinetry gap, this kitchen shelf idea is for you.

3. Keep It Linear

If you’re looking for shelving that doesn’t feel clunky or invasive, follow the existing lines in your space and hang your shelves accordingly. The result, as seen in this Dulux Colour award-winning house, is impressively sleek, even with exposed dinnerware and decorative knickknacks.

4. Try Recessed Shelves

Once the hours-long DIY project is complete, recessed wall shelves are incredibly non-invasive by nature and an ideal asset to any kitchen or dining space. Consider adding them to your future renovation plans. Then you can take notes from Jess Bunge and style yours with funky candlesticks. 

5. Embrace Corner Shelving

If you’re in desperate need of kitchen storage space, don’t let an inconvenient corner stop you. Take notes from Cali Gabrielle and her kitchen shelf situation, and group like items together for a slightly more cohesive look.

6. Show Off Your Cookbook Collection

Using books as decor is a budget-friendly, tried-and-true styling trick. If you want to stick to a kitchen theme, opt for cookbooks accompanied by small kitchen knickknacks like a mortar and pestle, as this Australian homeowner did.

7. Go All White

If you have a lot of shelving wedged into a small kitchen, paint everything white for a simple, more minimalistic look. This will counterbalance the visual clutter of plates, cups, bowls, and the like.

Credit: Sylvie Li

8. Stick to a Theme

Whether you display strictly color-coordinated vintage glassware or your favorite all-white dinnerware like fashion industry vet Trudy Crane, sticking to a loose theme when styling your shelving makes for a more thoughtful appearance. The more similar your dinnerware is color-wise, the more visually harmonious your shelves will seem.

9. Spotlight Your Stuff With Sconces

Sconces aren’t meant to exclusively flank a bed or a fireplace. Consider topping your kitchen shelves with matching sconces for a subtle museum effect, as designer Heidi Lachapelle did in her blue kitchen renovation.

10. Fuse the Practical with the Decorative

Mix decorative elements with kitchen essentials to curate a display that’s distinctively dining-inspired. We love Aubrey Figueroa’s use of cutting boards, succulents, salt and pepper shakers, artwork, and more. Remember that you can use kitchen shelves in spots that are away from your counters, too.

11. Create a DIY Coffee Bar

If you’re looking to make use of empty counter and wall space, create your own DIY coffee bar as blogger Sarah Gibson of Room for Tuesday did. Store mugs, sugar, and beans on shelving perched above your coffee maker, and voilà! Everything you need for your morning coffee is all at your fingertips.

12. Utilize the Space Above Your Fridge

In a small kitchen, every nook and cranny should serve a purpose. Consider installing shelves above your refrigerator as this homeowner did for added storage. Finish the shelves off with plants to soften the look.

Credit: Mackenzie Schieck

13. Embrace a Shaped Shelf

Just because you don’t have room for a wall full of shelves doesn’t mean you can’t make a statement. Take notes from event planner Mackenzie Shieck and hang kitchen essentials to create a sort of functional gallery wall. Then finish off the look with a round shelf.

Credit: Julia Steele

14. Go Asymmetrical

Who says your shelves have to be the same length? This kitchen proves that wood slab-style shelves can look chic, even if they are drastically different sizes. Embrace whatever type of storage you need most and don’t worry about perfect symmetry.

15. Floor to Ceiling For the Win

If you have the space and budget for custom built-ins, consider taking your shelving up the entire wall in a few parts of the kitchen. In addition to glassware and dishes, these perches are the perfect place to put your pantry ingredients.

16. Add Hooks

What’s better than a plain kitchen shelf? One with hooks! If you add a few hooks beneath the base of a shelf, you can create a spot to hang mugs, as this homeowner did. It’s also possible to store kitchen utensils, tools, and textiles this way, too. This will allow you to get even more mileage out of your kitchen shelves, at least in terms of storage.