Open shelving is the ultimate solution for small-space kitchens and it adds a touch of freshness to the cooking area.
Not only can your guests marvel at the beautifully designed and precisely organized neat stacks of dishes, but they will also appreciate the way you match design with functionality. Whether you’re hesitant about open shelving because you are afraid that they are not practical enough, or you are just a victim of the know-it-alls’ criticism, this comprehensive guide of dos and don’ts will resolve all your doubts.
- Declutter them. Can you imagine planning your shelves without emptying the surfaces first? Neither can I. Of course, it is a time-consuming task, but the outcome of such an activity will be worth the effort. However, cleaning everything at once will be too challenging, so I’d suggest you start with one shelf at a time.
- Transfer some stuff from the pantry for better visuals. Should you have any cool labels on your products or items that could work as decor elements altogether, you are welcome to put them on your shelves. These items are made for stashing on upper shelves, as they are not the priority area of your interest.
- Adjust the items to your daily routine. You have to be practical about placing stuff on your shelves, so you will opt for equipment that you use on a daily basis for the lower shelves, e.g. everyday plates, bowls, water glasses, and coffee mugs. However, sometimes not all the products suit the space, so if that is the case, keep them away. All in all, one would have to be a madman to display all mugs on one shelf.
- Match colors. Focus your attention on color in the kitchen; if a certain thread or a hue is running through it, it can become part of a premeditated pattern.
- Keep one style on display. What you will aim for is a combination of matching dishes and glassware, preferably of the same set. However, if the first is impossible, try, at least, to stick with a matched set of dishes. Undoubtedly, you should get rid of bodacious cups or other elements that look misplaced.
- Align the surfaces with your kitchen tasks. It’s much more comfortable to have all the necessary items at hand, and grouping them in such way makes them look more appealing, too. Think about the kitchen tasks you perform most frequently and adjust dishes and utensils accordingly.
- Stack small items together. Doing so will ensure the visual attractiveness of your open shelves. Teacups and saucers look better in slightly tighter stacks than in a well-aligned row. It’s important that you stick utensils upright in a vase and stack bowls atop plates. As you can see, like in maths, there is one than more solution to the problem.
- Be reasonable with materials. By the rule of the thumb, one material will suffice; two is the limit. Otherwise, your arrangement may look scattered. For a neat look, opt for one or two materials – you can choose from wood, metal, glass and ceramics.
- Look for appealing storage containers. There is more than simply utilitarian aspect to packaging. Your daily containers can make an integrated design element if incorporated wisely into the overall interior. Beware cheesy containers, though, as they distract the attention and may make your open shelves look unfocused. Stay with the neat stuff. You can go for monochromatic design for your containers if the shelves stand out from the general kitchen interior.
- Think about the contiguity. If you have a dishwasher near your open shelves, it is wise to consider putting your everyday dishes there. Spices and cooking tools are also welcome if the storage is at hand. Such an arrangement will make you enjoy cooking to its fullest.
- Apply decor elements cautiously. The problem with open shelves lies within their space capacity. As much tempting as they are, they may be exposed to injecting too much personality to one’s kitchen, so don’t go overboard with your decor elements. A couple of fresh fruits, hanging from the attached basket or a fair number of photos in fancy frames will do. The point is to make sure that you are able to easily get to something you need, albeit your decor is in the way.
- Don’t bother yourself with the highest shelf. Just leave it bare. Yes, you can put some plants there, which will be hard to water. Of course, fake plants won’t require watering at all, but, on the other hand, they may look cheesy. How about cookbooks? Well, unless you’re no Shaq O’Neal, why on earth would you put cookbooks in a place you can hardly reach? An empty shell will look neat, will be easy to clean and will make your ceilings look higher. Simple as that.
- Don’t underestimate dust. Although open shelves are full of advantages, there is one miserable aspect you can’t avoid while having those – dust. Open shelves collect dust and grease if they are near the stove. While you may think that filling the surfaces will reduce the amount of dust (it will actually do), but higher shelves – the ones with fewer items – will get grubby over time. When it comes to dealing with dust, old school is the best – clean it regularly.
- Don’t leave our glass uncovered if your country is exposed to earthquakes. If you live in a country or a region that is prone to meteorological disasters, you have to keep your glassware covered. Otherwise, it will have severe repercussions for you, which you will, of course, regret. And since we don’t want to regret things in our lives, glass cabinets will make much better storage space than open shelves.
- Don’t overburden a small kitchen with stuff. Open shelving does wonders to small kitchens as they make the room look notably larger than the actual footage indicates. It may be tempting to fill your shelves with all the stuff but remember that mismatching elements in a small room may result in the overall dizziness, should anyone enter the kitchen. Stay with neutral colors; white is a dead giveaway, for no one can go wrong with that color. At the very end, display only the necessary stuff.
- Don’t put the heaviest items on top shelves. You may not use that casserole dish frequently but placing it on the top shelf may be particularly risky due to the natural inability to endure such wait in the long run. Plus, lifting and replacing heavy stuff from high places is unsafe, so, given you’re not planning a suicide, you’d better stay away from this idea.
So… To open, or not to open?
It is quite obvious that changing one’s storage scheme may be a big commitment, but one simply cannot deny the fact that open shelves are a godsend, especially for small kitchens.
Not only do they breathe new life into the cooking area, but they are also inexpensive, functional, and easy to maintain in terms of cleaning. As heavenly as it may sound, having an open shelving system in your kitchen has two ends. While it’s a true enhancement of one’s storage and an appealing decor element, you can’t omit the planning part, which is essential for achieving the balance between the look and the usability.
Having considered arguments for and against open shelving, I still think it is worth incorporating into the kitchen design, mainly because of the harmony it provides to the interior by exposing sets of everyday dishes, while keeping the immense stuff behind the cabinet doors. All in all, it boils down to proper planning and getting best out of your space capabilities.
What about you? Are you going with the current and support open shelving, or are you a traditionalist with the courtesy of having a spacious culinary nest?