The Ubiquitous Kitchen Trend That Real Estate Agents Dread Seeing

published Feb 1, 2021
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Nothing is a treat for the eye quite like a stunning kitchen. From colorful cabinets to one-of-a-kind metal accents, today’s kitchen trends are splashy, fun, and a joy to look at.

But before you get carried away plotting out your dream kitchen, Ellen Sykes, realtor at Warburg Realty, says it’s important to realize not every design will work in your own home. The one kitchen trend that really depends on the room size for it to succeed is the ubiquitous open shelving layout. 

“Open shelving gives you less than half of the space that a closed cabinet would give you,” she says. 

While Sykes isn’t completely against open shelving, she says she would never sacrifice storage for aesthetics. 

“It’s easy to sell open shelving, but it’s really hard to live with it,” Sykes says. In fact, open shelving has been around for a while. The problem? It was typically featured in large, high-end kitchens triple the size of small apartments, she says. 

Unless you’re an interior designer or a skilled chef, most realtors find it easy for the shelving style to get disorganized. Michael J. Franco with Compass has seen many sellers’ apartments with messy open shelving that looked “disheveled.”

“Most people don’t live that way, where they’re incredibly organized and can keep it neat and orderly,” he says. 

For that reason, “unless it’s a necessity,”  Franco says people should be very careful about open shelving. The same goes for glass cabinet fronts and glass door refrigerators.

Another factor people tend to overlook when it comes to these shelves? Matching dish ware.

“Your pots and pans and your dishes have to be attractive,” Franco says. “You can’t have a hodgepodge of dishware and glassware.” 

Some realtors even cite a cleanliness issue when it comes to open shelving.

“Probably the reason I don’t like it is it’s dusty and dirty,” Sykes says. 

She also says to be wary of cooking at very high temperatures because oil residue can coat any exposed dishes and glasses over time. 

While some realtors are torn over the functionality versus style of this kitchen trend, there’s a clear compromise perfect for those not ready to take the full leap.

“If you’re interested in doing it, either for aesthetic reasons, because you like it, or you’re trying to make your kitchen look a little more open, do a blend of closed cabinets and open shelves,” Franco says.

Whether it’s a shelf dedicated to your coveted matching mug collection or your favorite Ina Garten cookbooks, creating a cabinet hybrid can be stylish while still preserving kitchen functionality.