Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Truth About Open Shelves


I see more and more kitchens with open shelves in place of upper cabinets, and every time I post one, I get e-mails and comments asking about their practicality. Here is what two bloggers, who have each chosen shelves instead of cabinets, have to say.



Trina, A Country Farmhouse: "We're quite happy with our decision to do open shelving rather than upper cabinets. We really like the ease of reaching for our everyday plates, glasses, mugs, and bowls but more than that, we really like the look of them. I think the open shelving allows for so many possibilities decorating-wise. This blank canvas allows us to create a different feel to the kitchen based on the season and/or our mood. The open shelves also make our small kitchen feel so much more open and spacious!"

I just adore Trina's kitchen. She has such a great eye for finding beautiful things, and better than that she actually uses all of them! So inspiring.


Lauren, Pure Style Home: "I LOVE my open shelving in the kitchen. They're so practical: I can see everything at a glance, grab it quickly, and emptying the dishwasher is so much easier. Guests feel at home because they can help themselves. People always ask me about dust and it's not really an issue for us because we use almost all of what's up there on a daily basis. For those occasional pieces that we don't use regularly, I just wash them off before use and it's really no big deal. I'm an open shelf convert and won't be going back."

I also love what Lauren and her handy husband Dave did in their kitchen. Rather than a total remodel, they put in new floors (which were also put down in adjoining rooms), painted the bottom cabinets, pulled down the upper cabinets, and put up beaded board and installed shelves. What was a dark and suburban builder-basic kitchen is now bright, beautiful and - best of all - personal.


I think the moral of this story is that if you love the look, go for it! Even if you aren't ready/willing to forgo upper cabinets completely, try taking the doors off a few of them and painting inside (I did that recently and love it).

Photos: via The City Sage, Trina, Lauren, and Cote de Texas.

28 comments:

Design Esquire said...

Great post. I'm in need of a kitchen remodel, and I've been debating about the open shelving. I love hearing how these talented women feel about their choice after living with it for a while. Thanks.

My Notting Hill said...

This is a great post. I'm in a vacation rental right now w/open shelves and it really opens up the whole kitchen.

Milk and Honey Home said...

Ditto! It is one of the favorite things in our home. I did use cake & cupcake stands that reside on the top open shelf..I just gave them a quick clean before use. I can totally see why they may not be great for resale, but we want to live in and love our home and I really love them because when we had all cabinets, my husband would never close them :)

the gardeners cottage said...

hi jennifer,

i too love my open shelving. and to anyone worried about dusting i would say that when i used to have cabinet doors the stuff in them still got dusty so what's the difference. it does force you to be more orderly but i like that sort of thing. i don't decorate mine at all b/c it's not my style, but i do think the pure function of them actually make them stylish.

~janet

Miss Spelled said...

I wonder what it would look like if you mix it up with some open shelves and some closed doors. I think the look of open shelves is adorable, but at times I appreciate the doors to hide some things that are not quite as pretty.
Side note: Does the fridge in the 4th picture down have chalk board pain on it? That is something new!

Shauna said...

On the house we reno'ed and just sold we had upper cupboards. But while in the process of doing the kitchen, we had no cupboard doors while the hubs was making new ones. We didn't realize how great it was having no doors until we put the new ones on! So much easier grabbing things and finding stuff when it's all out in the open. Our new house's kitchen will definately be getting shelves next year when we reno! (and maybe it's just me...but my cupboards get dusty anyways!?)

Momma Rhyne said...

I'm still on the fence of if I will go "open" or not... but I do know "Pioneer Woman" must have open shelving. I love her! I haven't heard a bad thing about them yet.

Jennifer said...

Julie and Janet -- love both of your kitchens, too! Glad to hear you like your open shelves. Julie, good point, resale is definitely something to think about.

Miss Spelled -- I have a mix since I took some of my doors off. If I had a pantry and somewhere to put the "uglies" I would definitely take the upper cabinets off completely. The mixed look probably isn't for everyone, but I love it!

elizabeth said...

We have stainless steel open shelving from Pottery Barn for our dishes and hanging pots and pans. Even with 4 Golden Retrievers (aka hair explosion all the time), our dishes don't get hair because we use everything up there all the time. It's also great because it keeps me organized. I'm a messy, messy person but having to be visibly accountable makes me actually put things where they are supposed to go. Hmmm, maybe I should have an open closet?

Aimee@ the Functional Space said...

Thank you, thank you for the post! I was just thinking to myself an hour ago before I sat down at the computer that I wanted to email a few of the blogs I read (Trina @ A Country Farm House, Lauren @ Pure Style Home, Julie @ Milk & Honey Home)about what they REALLY thought of their open shelving now that they've had a chance to live with it. You read my mind and totally took care of it for me. Thanks so much!

emily @ the happy home said...

the hanging light fixtures in the first photo are KILLING me, they're so gorgeous.
i love open shelving. not only does it make the kitchen bigger, but it gives everything a sort of restaurant feel. very class-ay.

Anonymous said...

where has everyone purchased these open shelves? My husband and I just bought a house and used all of our savings for the downpayment. We are slowly renovating one small thing at a time. I love this idea for our kitchen! I think it would open up the small space a lot! Please point me in the right place to start looking....

paula said...

so good! I think I would love it.

Building a House and Home said...

My husband and I have been having this debate a lot lately. He's worried about grease from the stove coming up and getting the dishes and shelves grimey, not just dusty. Anyone ever have this problem?

Brighton said...

We did exactly that in our last home. I loved my open shelving, and we are thinking about doing it in this house as well : )

Southern Lady said...

I think open shelving is beautiful. I think they actually force one to keep a neater kitchen since everything is always visible. Carla

Elizabeth said...

i love the look of open shelves. oh well, next house!

Lauren said...

Jennifer- thanks for including me here. I'm slightly obesessed with Trina's kitchen and I never tire of photos of it.

I just wanted to mention that we made our shelves with wood & brackets from Home Depot for Anon 2:30

xoxo,
lauren

kim said...

I love this look but living in an area where the potential for earthquakes is strong we have to settle for our upper cabinets with child proof locks, but dream of the day we move somewhere else for many other reasons as well as the earthquakes.

Hello Lover... said...

Thanks for sharing! I definitely plan on doing open shelving when we remodel our kitchen - we will still have some upper cabinets but not many. Love hearing the feedback of those who have already taken the leap!

Jessica @ Acting Adult said...

I love the look but I don't think I could ever live in a place with open shelves. I'm too messy!

3 Peanuts said...

Every time I see a post n these I ask about the dust. And no one ever addresses it (except for Lauren) I LOVE the look but I am kinda a clean freak and I have A LOT of dishes. I contemplated this all the time but as our kitchen is pretty new (2 years)...I don't think my hubby will go for it.

Can we see a photo of yours?

Jenna said...

I like the looks of open shelves, you can easily arrange it and since it is open, it is transparent. So once you seen dirt or mess, it would be easily fix.

the gardeners cottage said...

hi jennifer,

i know you are always on the lookout for fabulous homes. one of my readers house is in the sept. issue of house beautiful. you may want to check it out.

~janet

Haven and Home said...

This is a great post. It was interesting to hear what they had to say because I have wondered the same thing. I agree with Lauren, it makes guests feel more comfortable.

Cheri@IHeartOldHouses said...

Sigh...I adore the look of open shelving but I think I'm just too messy to pull it off. Looks great in other people's houses, though!

Rachel Joins the Fray said...

This was great information. I love open shelves, but I don't think they're a good idea in a place like San Francisco! Too shaky! ; )

P/F -amy said...

I have a mix of open shelves, glass-front cabinets and closed cabinets. The only reason why we didn't have ALL open shelves is because we were getting ready to sell our house and didn't want to scare buyers away. We have seen houses linger on the market in our neighborhood for months (in a few cases years). Our house - with open shelving had three offers the first day. I know that the kitchen (that I love to be in) was part of the reason.

The house we're moving into has a huge walk-in pantry, so all of the mis-matched baking dishes that were in the closed cabinets will move there. I actually really like the glass front cabinets that we have for wine glasses and pretty dishes that we don't use all of the time, so I will actually have this along with open shelves in the new kitchen. It still leaves the room a bit open looking and the sparkle from the glass cabinet is pretty, like jewelry from our kitchen.

There is no problem with keeping the shelves clean. It is much easier to wipe them off when I'm reorganizing the dishes than to pull out the ladder every month and clean the top of the cabinets. Because the shelves are painted with oil paint, they wipe off much more smoothly than the wood cabinets did too.