Open Storage Ideas

See how open shelves add storage and style to your kitchen.


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black shelves
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Shelves Displaying Dishware

    A small shelf unit that might display knickknacks elsewhere in the house works in the kitchen to display collectible dishware, an especially handy arrangement for items used regularly. Bringing into the kitchen a piece of furniture that's normally used in the living room makes this functional space feel less utilitarian.

    For a well-designed look, make sure the piece relates to the room's decor. Here, the black finish and curved ends of the shelving unit play off a nearby island, while the crown molding links to cabinets and gives the shelf architectural presence.

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Wire Rack

    A simple wrought-iron rack shows off oversize bowls and pitchers and adds to the kitchen's country charm. The items supplement the room's decor and are also available for use.

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Open and Closed Kitchen Storage

    Every efficient kitchen needs a combination of open and closed storage. This beautiful paneled cabinetry hides a refrigerator behind armoire-style doors, while small appliances, a wine cooler, and an icemaker reside behind cabinet doors above and below the microwave.

    To provide visual relief from all the paneling, a column of open shelves fills one corner and a large, open display area sits above the refrigerator. These openings in the cabinetry facade provide interest and keep the kitchen from feeling closed in.

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Contemporary Shelves

    With two floor-to-ceiling cabinets that bookend a series of shelves, the layout of this shelving unit is symmetrical. The shelves display minimal decorative pieces, adding to the contemporary feel.

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Kitchen Desk Area

    Steeped in vintage charm, this hutchlike desk area features an upper unit with two closed cabinets separated by display shelves. An interesting shape and a row of spice drawers set this central area apart and make it a focal point for the unit.

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Over-the-Range Storage

    Frequently used cooking supplies are stored on a mantellike shelf above the range. The deep shelf is big enough to hold canisters filled with baking supplies as well as serving platters.

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Glassware on Open Shelves

    A dark-stained shelving unit matches the finish of the cabinetry and is both decorative and practical. It holds glassware for the full-service beverage area. The unit's open back allows the wall to show through, so the room still benefits from the light-enhancing character of the tile wall.

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Display Kitchen Collectibles

    In this kitchen, open shelves on both sides of the window house a collection of fine china. This decorative display complements the country French style.

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Simple Shelves

    Three small shelves mounted to the wall with metal brackets hold a set of pitchers and flatware that is easily accessible. Located next to the peninsula, the shelves are both functional and decorative elements of the kitchen.

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Open Shelves and Glass-Door Cabinets

    Simple white shelves on brackets keep everyday dishes and glassware handy. Pairing open shelves with glass-door cabinets creates an unfitted look that is increasingly popular in kitchen design.

    The lowest shelf is shallow, allowing more room for food preparation. The upper shelves are a standard 12-inch depth and can accommodate dinner and salad plates. Brackets are anchored securely to wall studs to make sure they can bear the weight of stacked dishes.

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Open Storage in a Small Kitchen

    Open shelving can hold everything from baking supplies to everyday dishware -- wall cabinetry isn't necessary. The open design keeps this small kitchen from feeling crowded.

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Shelves with Scrollwork Brackets

    Open shelves replace upper cabinetry in this century-old kitchen, giving it an airy, clean feeling. While the shelves answer the call for simplicity, their lacy scrollwork brackets nod to an era that favored ornamentation. Lighting strips under the lower shelves provide helpful task lighting for the countertops.

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Serving Dishes on Display

    Here the homeowners placed large serving platters and tureens on long wooden shelves, making it easy to entertain. The light and dark color contrast is stylish.

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Restaurant-Style Storage

    Inspired by restaurant shelving that keeps supplies and tools close at hand, these stainless-steel kitchen shelves flank the cooktop. Pairing them with stainless-steel wall-mount utensil racks makes two efficient food prep areas.

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Easy-Access Storage

    The open shelves on the back of this island store the kitchen's entire collection of dishware and glasses. Located next to the dining area, this storage solution makes it easy to set the table.

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Furniture-Style Shelves

    This little wall-hung shelf unit forms a separate work zone with the desk area below. Painted to match the cabinetry and fitted with matching hardware, the shelves hang slightly lower than the adjacent wall cabinets, underscoring the unfitted-furniture style of the kitchen.

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Layered Shelving

    Three layers of open shelving allow you to place small, frequently used items on a lower level. Larger items, used occasionally, are available when needed but are out of the way on the top shelf.

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Handy Storage Niche

    A niche built into the range alcove is perfect for spices, condiments, and cooking oils. You can create similar storage elsewhere in the kitchen by building shelves between wall studs.

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Contemporary-Style Kitchen Storage

    A pole-mounted shelf continues the theme of multilevel curves established by the wall cabinets and island, as does the mix of ceiling light fixtures. Dishware and glassware seem suspended in air, displayed on three thick glass shelves that carry the curves across the space between the wall cabinet and a wood wall panel.

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Curved Shelves

    Setting shelves along this curved wall was an inexpensive storage option compared with installing custom-curved cabinets.

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Stainless-Steel Shelves

    Long, open shelves spanning one wall evoke a commercial space, but the combination of rustic elements and sleek surfaces makes this kitchen seem like an old space that's been updated.

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Small and Customized Space

    Take advantage of a small nook by adding a few shelves. The extra storage space will be more useful and will look more finished than an empty wall.

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Bookshelves Used as a Pantry

    Walnut shelves stacked with sculptural supplies stretch to the ceiling in this kitchen. The dramatic effect is achieved by stacking objects so they occupy the space instead of simply filling it. A tall bookcase with adjustable shelves can serve this pantry function in any kitchen. Be sure the shelves and shelf supports are sturdy enough to bear the weight of dishes and food supplies.

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Metal Shelves

    Sleek metal shelves match the contemporary design of this kitchen, which also boasts a stainless-steel apron-front sink and stainless-steel appliances.

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Plate Rack Storage

    A plate rack and glass-front doors keep dishes in clear view in this hutch-style cabinet unit. Plate racks are available in a wide range of shapes, styles, and finishes.

    They're popular because they allow you to turn your functional dinnerware into a decorative display, and they're safer for dishes -- china is less likely to chip and crack when stored this way.

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Shelves Add Depth to Cabinets

    In a wall of creamy yellow cabinetry, three open shelves give the space depth and greater interest. The shelves offer space to display useful as well as decorative items.

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Glass Shelves

    Three small glass shelves at the end of a wall cabinet display decorative glass items. The shelves blend with the minimal style of the kitchen and keep the focus on the gorgeous beach views outside.

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Open Shelves for Farmhouse Style

    Eschewing upper cabinets for shelves -- or simply leaving walls bare -- is a farmhouse tradition. Handmade stoneware displayed on the shelves coordinates with the colorful checkerboard-tile backsplash, and baskets add a layer of texture.

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Corner Kitchen Shelving Unit

    This open corner unit is deep enough to hold a small microwave and roomy enough to handle a cookbook collection. Custom-built to fill the corner adjacent to a window seat, the shelving keeps supplies within view and gives the kitchen a custom look.

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Overhead Storage

    A single shelf just below the ceiling provides space to display decorative tins without cluttering the kitchen.

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Updated Plate Rack

    This shelving unit, a modern take on a plate rack, plays off the grid design of the cabinets and windows. With a unit like this, it's best to display a set of dishes, cups, and saucers that share a common design idea or pattern. A random collection of cups and mugs would create a less refined effect.

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Corner Shelf

    A small, open shelf in the corner breaks visually from the line of wall cabinets. It also displays decorative pieces.

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Kitchen Shelves Save Space

    Cool stainless-steel bins update a country kitchen. The open shelves add storage in a small kitchen without taking up visual space, preserving a feeling of openness.

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Old and New Give a Fresh Look

    These open shelves, installed on the wall above the farmhouse sink and stainless-steel appliances, were originally the top of an old country store's display piece.

    Look for vintage pieces that you can repurpose for kitchen service at flea markets and thrift shops. Giving an old piece new life is creative recycling and adds one-of-a-kind character to your kitchen.

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Kitchen Island Storage

    Everyday dishware is stored in open shelves at the end of the island, making breakfast preparation a simple task every morning.

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Built-In Shelves

    These shelves were built into the wall. The recessed design creates lots of storage without dominating space in the kitchen.

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