Q+A: Open Shelving – An Affordable Kitchen Update

One of the biggest trends in kitchen designs is open shelving. Many of my favorite inspirational kitchens incorporate them in some way. I’m a big fan. Sometimes they can seem a little scary or unpractical, but I believe open shelving adds a unique element to kitchens while still being functional. For today’s Q+A, I want to take a closer look at open shelving as a beautiful and affordable way to update your kitchen.

Q: What’s a good way to update my kitchen affordably?

butlers pantry remodel with open shelving Becki Owens
A: Incorporating open shelving to your kitchen is a great update and is cheaper than new cabinetry. For smaller spaces, open shelving can be a great solution as well. You may not have the option of knocking down a wall or maybe you have a galley kitchen. Open shelving will make your kitchen space feel bigger and fresh. Tight spaces like a butler pantry can feel light, airy and decorative with open shelving. With a little paint and some new open shelves we transformed the butler’s space above. You can see before and after pics here.

open shelving

Via Merchant Design

Q: If I want to use open shelving, what is the easiest way to incorporate it into my kitchen.

A: One of my favorite looks in a kitchen is open shelves on either side of the hood. This is a great way to update your kitchen with a fresh look, without having to spend a lot of money doing the whole kitchen. You can replace the existing cabinetry with simple wood boards from Home Depot and paint them, or find beautiful reclaimed wood for a more rustic look.

natural wood open shelves

Via Popsugar

A: Another great place to install open shelving is in a small corner or dead space in your kitchen. In this kitchen above, the open shelves were installed at the end of the cabinetry. This is a more affordable solution than decorative glass cabinetry and it gives a more clean, modern look. It’s amazing what painting your cabinetry and adding a few open shelves will do to update your kitchen.

Q: Is adding open shelving something I can do fairly easily?

open shelving white kitchen

Via Ala Mode Maven

A: Adding open shelving can be a great DIY project. There are some really good resources for how to install opening shelving into your home, using supplies from your local home building stores. For example, Lowe’s has a great how to article here. I recently redid my pantry, using a mix of open shelving and cabinetry. For the shelves, I like to use 1 1/2 -2″ thick wood boards that are about 12″ deep. You can have them cut the wood for you at the store in the dimensions you need. Subway tile, new painted drywall or continuing your backsplash to the cabinet height or ceiling, will finish it off. I personally love the look of a counter to ceiling subway tile wall like the kitchen above. It’s so crisp and brightens up the space.

Tip: If you are designing a new kitchen with open shelving, have a little fun with it. The space with open shelving can become an amazing, decorative focal point for your kitchen, like an accent wall. I love the beautiful blue and white tile seen in the kitchen below. If you decide to go with a more minimal all white look, you can add a stack of dishes or a row of glasses in a pretty color to create an element of surprise. This leads to my last question…

blue and white tile backsplash open shelving

Via Domino

Q: Does open shelving make my kitchen too high maintenance? Now everything will always have to look perfect.

A: No one wants a messy, unsightly kitchen. And sometimes when life gets busy it’s hard to maintain a perfect clean space. This is why adding open shelving to only a portion of your kitchen might be the best solution. I believe open shelving will only add to the beauty of your kitchen, but it’s important to be strategic about where you place it based on what will be displayed. Open shelving works great for everyday dishes and serving ware. Try to organize your kitchen so these dishes are displayed in a way that is practical for everyday use. I love to use mainly all white dishes in these spaces, but you certainly can be creative with your own collections. The key is to make the space usable while still keeping it simple, consider decorating them with just 2 or three colors.

I hope you have enjoyed today’s Q+A on open shelving. I would love to see pictures of your projects if you decide to use them. Below are some of my favorite choices for dishes and accessories to style your open shelves. I hope you have a great Monday!


2 thoughts on “Q+A: Open Shelving – An Affordable Kitchen Update

  1. Tanya says:

    I love the close-up of the subway tiles on the third picture down. What color is the grout used/what do you recommend to achieve this look?
    Thanks for the great post!

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