I remember when we were first designing the kitchen during the renovation. The big decision to remove the upper cabinets meant a major commitment. There would be open shelves in the kitchen that would forever need to be styled. It meant everything was out in the open!

The commitment at first was daunting knowing that everything would be visible. But with it, came a touch of design and character for our 1920’s kitchen. Since renovating the home, removing the upper cabinets, and adding in floating shelves, they’ve become one of my favorite parts of the kitchen.

The styling of the shelves has changed almost monthly as I love to mix things up from time to time. So I thought I’d share my tips for styling open shelves in the kitchen. A few things that help keep them organized and visually appealing.

Tips for Styling Open Shelves in the Kitchen


Why I love open shelves in the kitchen

Open shelves in the kitchen are not only a way to add some styling but also function. We keep our everyday dishes and glassware in hands reach. Since we’ve selected minimal dinnerware, we go through it weekly, so no item collects dust. Mixed in with it, I’ve added in a few decor pieces. Pottery, visually-appealing vases, and some items collected throughout our travels. Plus, open shelves are incredibly cheaper than say adding in new cabinets. So if you’re looking to save money when renovating, consider open shelves instead of uppers.


Tips for Styling Open Shelves in the Kitchen

Vary the Heights

One of the first tips is to vary the elevation amongst the objects on the shelves. As an example, don’t place three rows of plates together, you’ll have a large gap in elevation. Instead, mix and match heights by placing different dishware and vases next to each other. It draws the eye in, giving the viewer different points to look at. I love to place things like a stack of plates next to say a vintage tea kettle. The two elevations contrast each other, making it visually appealing.


Mix Function & Style

One of the most wholistic ways to style your shelves is to mix both function and style. You can stack glasses and then next to it feature a vintage painting or vases. Not everything on your shelves has to be a “function” piece.

If you are thinking of buying items for your shelves that can also have a function, I try to look for more aesthetic pieces. A few examples include these blush salt shakers by MENU, my favorite donabe for cooking Japanese dishes, and a ceramic pitcher. They may not be used every day, but they do get used frequently enough.


Stack Strategically

There are so many ways to stack on shelves. It can all be done strategically and in a way that visually looks great. A few tips:

  • Stack in repetition.
  • Use different objects to stack, like placing a cookbook under a bowl.
  • Stack both vertically and horizontally. One idea is to place cutting boards at the end, stacked horizontally together.
  • Glassware can be stacked two ways depending on the size of shelves. Either nest them or even consider a pyramid.

Stick to a Color Palette

One of the easiest ways to create continuity in your shelves is by sticking to no more than four colors. By having ceramics and art pieces in the same colors or tones, it visually looks better. A neutral palette is really easy to create within the kitchen, so I personally lean towards shades of white, green, and beige.


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Tips for Styling Open Shelves in the Kitchen

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