Open Shelving: Uncluttered & Beautiful

December 17, 2021

Open Shelving: Uncluttered & Beautiful

Kitchen cabinets serve the essential function of storing some of the most regularly used items in the household. Traditional cupboards can hide anything, which often leads to clutter and disorganization behind closed doors. Open kitchen cabinets have become a popular alternative to the traditional closed-door cabinets. The exposed design style of open shelves is often seen in new homes, modern homes, and more traditional homes that have been refreshed and remodeled. Let's explore why open shelving is so visually appealing, and how to use this style to create a beautiful, uncluttered look in your home. 

Open Shelving: Uncluttered

Open shelving lends itself to precise, uncluttered placement. To create open shelving that is uncluttered, everything in the kitchen, seen and unseen, needs to have a place. Start by developing a plan for all the things you use and consume in your kitchen. Out of all those things, decide what things would look good exposed together on open shelves, and what would still be best left out of sight. Brainstorm until you have a good idea of where everything is going.

Organization is Key

Open shelving expresses planned organization and pleasing presentation on each shelf. The visual appeal of open shelving derives from this precise, uncluttered organization, where the lines are clean, and items are consciously grouped.

Most often, each open shelf showcases grouped dishware, cookware, or decor, such as plates, mugs, pots, mixing bowls, skillets, glasses, baskets, vases, figurines, etc. Well placed miscellaneous items may also be used to fill open shelves, such as dry goods showcased in ceramic or glass containers.

Regardless of what you choose to place on an open kitchen shelf, any mixing and matching among items should be done in a very organized and complimentary way. However, adding too much will create an appearance of chaos, rather than cohesion.

Always make sure to leave enough room for your hands to easily pick up dishware and other shelf items. Don't stuff items or force them to fit together in the shelf spaces. Remember, any space at the top of the shelves or on the sides of the shelves is good! The empty space helps create the visually pleasing look and feel of uncluttered open cabinets.

Limit Food Items

Open shelving and packaged food items don't often go well together. For example, when deciding whether to group and stack cans of food together on open shelves, consider that cans of food come in different shapes, sizes, and colors. All these differences will make them look somewhat disheveled and disorganized no matter how you stack or group them.

Other types of dry goods create a similar appearance of disorganization. Multi-colored packaged food items and their advertisements don't communicate the clean, coordinating style that open shelving is designed to create. 

Open shelving, therefore, often works best in households that have a pantry of some sort to store most dry goods. If you're interested in open shelving for your kitchen and don't currently have a pantry, keep in mind there are many ways to implement pantry spaces, such as adding a closet or kitchen island with closed storage. 

Open Shelving: Beautiful

Open shelving in the kitchen looks different than ordinary cabinet shelving. It creates a unique design aesthetic, but it's also versatile, easily complimenting different design styles. To create open shelving that is beautiful, the entire kitchen space needs interconnected flow and visual appeal. 

Coordination is Key

Coordinating your kitchen involves things like style and color, and it's important to stay true to those design elements with open shelving. 


If your style is modern, choose and highlight modern elements such as stainless steel and neutral colors inside and outside the open shelving. For traditional styles, bring traditional design elements out and highlight them, such as floral patterns and delicate trims.

Keep in mind that while matching sets of dishware are visually appealing, similar styles and colors of dishware can also coordinate well together. 

It's also important to identify the dominant and complimentary colors you have, or would like to have, showcased in your kitchen. It could be that the dominant color is the color of your plates and glasses, or your pictures and curtains.

Next, choose several complimentary colors that are then repeated throughout your kitchen space. It could be the trim color of dishware or containers, or the color of a set of wine glasses you'd like to display. Once chosen, these colors should then be displayed in various areas of the open shelving for visual reinforcement.

Enhance with Space & Décor

The empty space on open shelves not only shows uncluttered open shelving, but it also creates beautiful open shelving. Whenever possible, stack items, such as plates, to maximize the use of the space. When creating space and organizing your items, also keep in mind:

  • Arrange smaller items with larger items.
  • Place large items in the center of the shelf space.
  • Use stands to create visual depth and interest.

Décor items should be placed on at least several open shelves. Choose the décor items very carefully to ensure they complement the style, colors, and themes of your kitchen. If you have a country themed kitchen, add pieces such as farm figurines or checkered pieces to your open shelves to continue and enhance the theme.

Place décor pieces on shelves next to shelves with basic dishware or cookware. Décor pieces are excellent ways to tie-in complementary colors, as well as to reinforce the dominant color in your kitchen.

Perhaps the most beautiful element of open shelving is the use of patterns between the shelves. For example, if your dominant color is yellow, showcase the dominant color in the center and outside open shelves. If your theme is flowers, showcase flowers by alternating them on the top and outer shelves.

Depending on the layout, there are numerous patterns to choose from to create beautiful open shelving. Once you've decided on the right open shelving for your kitchen space, you'll may want to upgrade your kitchen sink to complete your kitchen.

We'd love to help you with your kitchen design, and we have the best selection of kitchen sinks to complement your special space. For more information, contact us today.






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