Open shelving is simply replacing kitchen cabinets with shelves – with all your kitchen contents arranged on the shelves and on display instead of cloistered behind a cabinet door. Today Terrie and I take a look at the pros and cons of open shelves in the kitchen.
Thumbs Down for Open Kitchen Shelves from Cindy
It’s easy to find beautifully designed kitchens with open shelves in magazines these days – but I can’t help but wonder how beautiful they will look in real life. The photos highlight the lovely arrangement created by a photo stylist but how will those shelves look when a family actually uses the kitchen, mixing kids’ plastic cups with wine glasses and coffee mugs with logos on them? As we all know, the showcases in magazines are not always conducive for day-to-day living.
In addition to the visual clutter created by having cupboard contents displayed on shelves, I’d be concerned about the cleanliness of exposing dishes and glassware to the dust and grease inherent in a kitchen setting. If you have a small kitchen and use all of your dishware and glassware regularly, so it only sits on the shelves for a day or so before being washed (like in a restaurant), then open shelves might not be an issue. But I have serving dishes and glassware that are not used daily and would be perfect targets for greasy kitchen dust. Sure, I could turn the glasses and mugs upside down to keep their inside clean and I could wash the big serving platter before using it – but I don’t want the extra work.
And what about dusting the shelves? I’m not interested in taking everything off the shelves and dusting them or washing them each week – and somehow the “quick dust” like I use on on bookshelves (just dusting the exposed part of the shelves, skimming around the books and accessories) doesn’t seem very sanitary for my glassware and plates. I have a high capacity fan which helps reduce grease exhaust but I know from my nearby teapot shelves that it’s not infallible. I guess I could cover the dishes and glassware when cooking – but that’s yet another chore.
Next consider reselling. When it’s time to sell your house I think open kitchen shelves could hurt your resale value or extend your time on market. Without traditional kitchen storage cupboards you narrow your number of potential home buyers.
When all is said and done, open shelves sound like more work and more clutter to me. Unless all of your dishes, glasses, serving pieces and storage containers are color coordinated and you like continual organizing and dusting, you might want to think twice about open shelves.
I’ll keep my cupboards, thank you, and happily stash my kitchen goods behind closed doors. There’s no doubt a cabinet door is infinitely easier to dust or wipe down than a cluttered open shelf would be.
Terrie Says Thumbs Up on Open Shelving
Cindy raises some good points about cleanliness and tidiness. But sometimes style and the “I like it” factor have to rule. I’m not sure I’d like a whole kitchen of open shelves, but the style and openness shelves can give a room might just be worth a little extra cleaning. Here are some of the reasons I think you might consider adding open shelves to your kitchen:
- Accessory addicts like me can never have too many places to display favorite doodads.
- Sometimes just a few well placed open spaces between stacks of cabinet doors are all that’s needed to open up the room and create some interest.
- Use open shelves to define your style. Open shelving seems most often to be a part of country or casual kitchens, but I found some of even the most modern kitchens can flaunt shelving.
This regimented display of glassware is almost like an art installation!
- Store and display oversize pots and pans, small appliances or serving dishes on open shelving.
- Open shelving can be a more affordable option than cabinets for awkward nooks and corners.
- Who says shelving has to only be for upper cabinets? Lower open cabinets can be used to display larger, heavier items, cookbooks and items that you want children to be able to access.
- If a whole bank of open shelves is too much for you, maybe all you need is a little corner shelf to add personality.
While open shelving may not be for everyone, I think there’s certainly a case to be made for adding them. Beauty, style, display space, filling awkward corners, accessibility – all valid reasons. Do any of them work for you?
What’s Your Take?
Do you think open kitchen shelves are a good alternative to cupboards or do you think they look cluttered and are impractical? There’s no right or wrong answer – it’s all about personal preference. Share your thoughts – do you give open kitchen shelves a thumbs up or thumbs down? Simply click on the “Comment” link at the end of this post (just beyond the ads) and let us know how you feel about open kitchen shelving.