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As one of my co-workers, Stacey Smithers, contemplates a kitchen redo, much discussion about open shelving has ensued. Of course, when you see shots like these, no wonder people want open shelves.

Photo: open shelf painted yellow, subway tiles

Photo: Open shelves painted white displaying glasses

Both images have been beautifully propped and styled by London-based stylist Sally Conran. What you don’t see in the first one are any actual dishes — beautiful objets, yes; dishes, no. The second shot has loads of Mason jars — again no dishes — and also loads of the casual country charm that makes the styling on these shelves appropriate to the image. But really, who lives like this? Know this: When we shoot your kitchen, we make sure the shelves are gorgeous. So unless you are the kind of person who edits, styles and cleans your shelves daily, open shelves may leave you disappointed. Obviously, I am a fan of doors as I know how much time I want to devote to cleaning up my stuff — almost none.

So if you truly want open shelves, here are two options:

1. Make sure you have plenty of space for a wall of closed cupboards to hide all your gack, which means you need a decent-sized kitchen. (Due to walls getting in our way, we rarely get a chance to photograph a kitchen in this way, showing both sides at once, so that's one reason you seldom see what is on the other side of the open shelves.)

Photo: simple open shelves in kitchen

2. Or try this trick: Just remove two doors and style in some lovely props, which will read like open shelving (makes you on-trend) but without the constant clean-up.

Photo: open shelves over sink

So how do people feel about open shelves? Do you have them in your kitchen? Have any tricks that make them easier to live with?

For more shelving tips, read our Smart Storage Solutions article.

Photo credits:
1. Sally Conran, Interiors 2
2. Sally Conran, Interiors 1
3. From La Dolce Vita blog, room designed by Angie Hranowsky
4. Unknown source: Help! Does anyone know where this shot comes from?

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