KITCHEN OPEN SHELVING – Is it practical?


Today I wanted to give my opinion on open shelving in the kitchen as this is a fairly new trend in kitchen design perhaps made more popular by the lovely Joanna Gaines of Fixer Upper fame.  When designing our kitchen, I knew I wanted to incorporate some open shelving but still include closed cabinets for the less aesthetically pleasing items we use every day.

Originally we had open shelving planned for both sides of our apron sink area, but after installation of the window over the kitchen sink, the measurements were off and we had to tweak the shelving plan with the cabinet design people.  Those types of situations happen ALL. THE. TIME. when building and it can be disappointing or frustrating, but I like to look at the challenges as new design opportunities instead!  My kids just LOVE it when I tell them that life’s little bumps in the road can be opportunities to hone our problem solving skills ;-).  As you can see from my style board for the kitchen above, the kitchen in the top photo had no open shelving to the left of the sink and it looked fine so I had the cabinets and shelves re-designed in a similar fashion.

Since there wasn’t much room between the cabinets and the window on the left side, we decided to just do the open shelving on the right side of the sink (just above the dishwasher and to the right of the sink where the dishes would be drying to make putting dishes away easy and efficient).  So here we were a few days ago – top shelf still sporting Christmas decor.  No judging–it is not February just yet ;-).   Anyway, as you can see from the dishes drying on the counter–the majority are our glasses and white everyday plates and bowls.  The most efficient storage for these would be just above the dishwasher and also the spot where I am in the habit of putting them to dry.  I am not a big believer of drying the dishes immediately because I am lazy have heard it is more hygienic ;-).  I didn’t realize that on the kitchen cabinet plans, the open shelving would be located so high on the wall.  For practicality reasons and so that our 10-year-old son could actually reach the cereal bowls and make his own breakfast without climbing on the counter each time (can’t knock him for using his “problem solving skills” here 😉 )–we decided to lower both shelves to a more reachable height.

First step was to empty the shelves.

Next step was to call my sweet husband up from his project in the basement so that we could quickly lower the shelves before reloading.  Not as quickly as we had hoped but in fairly short order we had both shelves lowered by about 8 inches and much more functional for our family.

Ahh…. much better.  Bye, bye to the Christmas decor and hello to white, botanical and wood neutrals.  Our youngest can now safely self-serve (I see this as my ultimate goal as a mother 😉 ) and I can store things on the top shelf and still reach them without a step-stool.

The holes in the drywall still need patching and paint and I still want to style the counter under the shelves but after only a few days living with the lowered shelves, they are functioning exactly as I had envisioned those many months ago when we were deep in the process of dreaming and designing our house.

I LOVE them and would recommend a small area of open shelving to anyone.  Since we use the items on the bottom shelf on a daily basis, I haven’t found a problem with dust collecting as Emily of Jones Design Company also describes here when discussing open shelves in the kitchen.

And besides, we still have plenty of closed storage on the other wall of the kitchen and also in the island for the ugly less aesthetically pleasing stuff.


Soon we’ll go on a full kitchen tour and I’ll show you all the fun hidden organization and functional elements behind the doors and drawers.  Fingers crossed for a sunny day at home for that photo shoot!  😉

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