Open Shelving in Kitchens: 7 Different Looks

There’s a new movement in kitchen design when it comes to storage and display and that is the replacement of solid upper cabinetry with open shelving, typically in the form of floating shelves or ones supported by brackets.

Many homeowners are embracing this idea in their own kitchens and the look is becoming less of a trend and more of a lifestyle choice.  Here are seven different ways you to can incorporate open shelving into your kitchen.

One way to open up without replacing upper cabinetry is to remove the cabinet doors, patch and paint any hinge holes, and experiment with your comfort level where glasses and dishware are out on constant display.

open shelving on upper cabinets bhg


Choosing beadboard as a backsplash adds traditional cottage style when installed behind open shelving designed to store everyday dishes.


open shelving near sink bhg


Carved brackets add architectural interest to kitchens with open shelving.  Paint them in a welcoming color to complement your white and colored glass collection.


painted open shelving with brackets bhg


As an alternative to high contrast paint, choose a finish on the shelving that is similar to the wall like this display of wood tone shelving against whitewashed paneling.  The blended combination allows the dishes and art to take the spotlight.


wood tone open shelving bhg



The use of stainless steel for open shelving injects a modern vibe into a kitchen space and mimics the look found in many restaurants and cafes.


stainless steel open shelves bhg


Introduce thick rustic wood planks in the form of floating shelves to add warmth and contrast against cool ceramic tile.


rustic floating shelves bhg


If your existing upper cabinetry is adjacent to a window, you also have the option of installing boards between them for open storage and to create a space for your favorite dish collection.


open shelving over window bhg


Have you upgraded your kitchen lately and included open shelving in the design plan?


36 Responses to “ Open Shelving in Kitchens: 7 Different Looks ”

  1. Yes I have! There is a metallic shelf that takes all the length of the sink wall, below the cabinets. It only hosts things that I use daily so that they don’t gather dust and I love it!

  2. I love open shelves and is in my future kitchen reno. I am trying to decide on the lovely wood or the stainless steel, I also love beadboard back splash. Now to win the lottery so I can do that kitchen reno, dreaming, dreaming!!!!

  3. Love it, but it is hard to keep things clean on open shelves in a kitchen that is used for cooking everyday meals.

  4. I do have a question, do they need to be cleaned more often being out?

  5. What are the photo sources? I’d like to see more of the kitchen with the wood clad range hood. Thanks.

  6. Hi Jenn, all of the photo sources are from the Better Homes & Gardens archives, just click on the image to find the original source!

  7. Where can I get the shelves? There’s a set of 3 that I really would love to have.

  8. Very nice post here one can get idea for various steel shelves.Thanks for sharing with us.

  9. Do you know of any stainless floating shelves that don’t cost a fortune? The ones I’ve searched for are 200 and up and that’s for just one!

  10. Hi Marie, I’ve never been in the market for stainless open shelving but I’d try a restaurant supply company, they may have them for less!

  11. Where do you get the floating wood rustic shelves?

    Looking to do this, Thanks.

  12. We just installed stainless steel looking shelfs in the kitchen and they are fantastic. Ikea aluminum shelfs $39.99 each, small brackets give the appearance of a floating shelf.

  13. thanks for sharing Kelly!

  14. Hi Kevin, I have seen a few versions at West Elm, but they are also something worthy of a DIY project!

  15. I am looking for stainless or chrome wall-mounted shelving units that mount similarly to the closet shelving systems. We have NO cabinets in our kitchen…restaurant-style, galvanized metal walls…really want this type of shelving!!!

  16. I love the open shelving look in these kitchens. It gives a “homey” feel to the kitchen and lets you show off your style with your appliances and dishware.

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