Open Shelving Ideas for Every Room

Open shelves have a lot going for them. They're simple and flexible, can be cost-conscious and problem solving, and work in virtually every room. Here are inspirational ideas for using open shelving in your home.

built in book shelf

We've all had that spot in our homes where we think, "if only I could store something there." Luckily, there's an easy solution to those wasted corners and stretches of wall: open shelving. These adaptable home accents add practical beauty and, unlike some decor items, work well in many spaces such as kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms.

Open Shelving in Living or Dining Spaces


Most living or dining spaces need storage that's decorative as well as functional. Open shelves work well in the following spots:

  • Bookend a doorway, window, or fireplace: Add shelves to the side and above the walkway from one room to another or around a window; it's a great spot for books or photos. The same is true above and around a fireplace. Try varying the spacing between the shelves, too.
  • Behind a sofa: Narrow open shelves work well for photographs or artwork. Mix and match placement and length of shelves for visual interest.
  • As a room divider: Secured to the floor, open shelves stretched from floor to ceiling work well as a room divider. Place accessories and decorative items to face both ways.

Open Shelving in a Kitchen

Laminated or painted countertops

Look closely at your cooking, prep, and eating spaces and you're bound to see unused areas that could add to the function and charm of your kitchen. Think about:

  • Around and above a stove, or turned perpendicular to cabinets. Narrow spaces to the side of a vent or in a narrow niche make great spots for pretty utensils or cooking tools.
  • Above upper cabinets: Left open, these tip-top spaces in a kitchen offer pretty spots to display little-used items such as holiday serving trays.
  • The end of a cabinet: As a cabinet turns a corner, open shelves offer prime spots to store favorite cookbooks or bowls.
  • Above an island: For kitchens with very high ceilings, open shelves can help to fill what would otherwise be wasted space. Use them to store oft-used island items, such as glasses or small bowls.
  • Above lower cabinets: Dress up open shelves above lower cabinets with trim and crown molding, and you've got the furniturelike look of a faux hutch.

Open Shelving in a Bathroom

White Bathroom Designs

Front-free storage in the bathroom can help to eek out little nooks and crannies for extra storage in what are sometimes space-challenged rooms. Try:

  • An open shelf to break up a niche in a shower. Even a six-inch spot allows you to divide bathing supplies -- shampoo on one shelf, razors and cleansers on another.
  • Above a tub. A narrow open shelf here can be either functional or decorative. Use it to display a collection that accents your style motif -- shells, for example, or photos -- or to stash extra soap and rolled-up washcloths.

More Out-in-the-Open Bath Storage Ideas


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