Design Debate: Is Open Shelving Fussy Or Fabulous?
One of today’s biggest trends in kitchen design is open shelving. The upside is hard to deny: it can make your space feel more airy and gives you room to display great-looking dishes, ingredients, serving pieces and cookbooks. Best of all, open shelves are often less expensive than installing closed cabinets. On the downside, though, it’s a big commitment. Not only do you need pretty stuff that matches or at least coordinates, you’ve got to dust and clean more often.
At H&H, we think open shelves are totally worth it! No matter your style — be it industrial, farmhouse, traditional or contemporary — open shelving adds loads of personality to your kitchen. We’ve collected some of the best kitchens with open shelving from our pages, and we want to hear what you think: Is open shelving fussy or fabulous?
In this English farmhouse-style kitchen, moody blue open shelving is paired with beadboard trim for a homespun architectural detail. Copper and white accents really pop!
A vibrant Zoffany wallpaper mural punches up the visual interest in this eclectic kitchen. A single floating shelf offers just enough room for a curated display of favorite pieces.
In her dining area, homeowner Wispy Boivin used an antique baker’s rack for a fresh take on a closed-storage hutch.
This walk-in pantry designed by Nam Dang-Mitchell makes a dramatic statement, thanks to a graphic cement tile backsplash. The high-contrast wall is the perfect backdrop for open shelves in a pale wood.
The brick wall sets a reclaimed, industrial tone in this galley kitchen. The open “uppers” — reproductions of freestanding French library shelves — hold both the practical and the personal, including plenty of dishes and treasured artwork.
Design editor Kai Ethier planned for great storage and function in this kitchen, but she also had some fun. A scalloped backsplash is reminiscent of mermaid scales, and the open shelving on either side of the range is ideal for showing off cookbooks and objets.
The storage in this contemporary chalet kitchen displays alpine-inspired artwork and a few bottles of spirits. The wood shelves warm up the coolness of the grey cabinets, stainless steel countertops and curb backsplash.
These open box cabinets were custom made with locally sourced Ontario maple. The mix of open and closed storage brings accessibility and functionality to the family-friendly space.
In this kitchen designed by Shirley Meisels, open shelving creates an airy, handsome display for the homeowner’s beautiful collection of dishes.
“I didn’t want the room to read as a kitchen,” says Youssef Hasbani of this galley space. Open shelves — made from a bamboo butcherblock counter he had cut to size at Lowe’s — display cookbooks, glassware, china and art. Custom walnut brackets add contrast and a rustic element.
Shop owner Lysanne Pepin chose open box shelves for her cottage kitchen in the Eastern Townships. “Everything in a kitchen needs to be used,” she says. With tools, spices and ingredients completely accessible, making meals is a breeze.
This historical home in Ballycroy, Ontario, once served as a general store, post office, dance hall and inn before its current iteration as a private residence. Designed by homeowner Elle Patille, the kitchen’s floating shelves, subway tile and industrial Edison bulb ceiling fixture deliver a European bistro vibe.
Replete with color and pattern, this Quebec kitchen’s open shelving is clean-lined and white — a perfect perch for plants, artwork and vessels of all kinds.
A trio of open shelves installed on a wall of patterned tile adds a graphic punch to this compact kitchen; cookbooks and wooden bowls are beautifully set off.
“The kitchen was designed with lots of drawers to keep things out of sight,” says Ken Dobell of his Montreal rowhouse. Two rows of open shelving above the sink, however, are filled with charming accents, adding to the restaurant vibe.
While minty custom cabinets keep this kitchen looking unique and fresh, it’s the simple floating shelf that really amps up the cool, contemporary factor. Designer Ami McKay added articulated metallic sconces above for a welcome hit of glamour.
In this showhome kitchen, clean-lined open shelving crafted from black metal punctuates the room and keeps it grounded. An inky faucet and trio of black candlesticks enhance the graphic effect.
Holt Renfrew president Mario Grauso’s Bridgehampton, New York kitchen boasts blue-green painted open shelving that complements his red and white Hermès china and puts a fresh twist French country style.
Industrial lighting and sleek appliances combine with freestanding wooden work surfaces and painted rafters for a perfect blend of old and new in this eclectic kitchen. Vintage artwork and retro dishware take pride of place on the open shelves that run the length of the kitchen.
Classic subway tiles get an update when overlaid with white open shelving that extends to the ceiling. Pantry items in mason jars look stylish in the compact space.
Designed by Alda Pereira, this gorgeous Palm Desert kitchen is minimalism at its best. The light, bright and airy space boasts open shelving instead of uppers, which are downlit by sleek sconces.
In this warm and inviting kitchen, deep blue cabinets and a timber vent hood contrast with black metal open shelving for a mix of rustic farmhouse and industrial styles.
Black-brown and glossy white cabinets are paired with walnut floating shelves to create a bright and stylish kitchen. Designer Sarah Hartill installed wooden shelving on a floor-to-ceiling wall of subway tile to warm up the space and offer easy-to-access storage and display.