Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

December 15, 2014

Honest Thoughts on Open Shelving in the Kitchen


I've long been fascinated by open shelving, but always preferring to keep my kitchen a little more stream-lined and uncluttered than open shelving usually affords.  In the lakehouse kitchen, though, the upper cabinetry was small and incredibly awkward: the corner shelves couldn't fit two glasses side by side, part of the cabinet to the right of the window was unreachable because the doors and counter got in the way, and the cabinet above the range hood was fake!  I also didn't love the cathedral style door profile or the jumble of sizes.  Open shelving was an inexpensive, easily solution and it definitely increased our storage (although some people dispute this, I know this for a fact because I couldn't fit half of what's on the shelves now in the former cabinets).  While most people have been so positive about the makeover, there have been those who have been...insensitive (I so badly want to use a different word).  These folks haven't popped up here, but some websites where the kitchen has been featured have yielded some weirdly personal criticisms.  Apparently either I don't cook, or I'm not a good cook, or else I'm totally slovenly and live in a grime-filled home.  Never mind that apparently I'm hoarding the world's Pyrex so a person can't even find a set of mixing bowls.  People have also had weirdly specific concerns, like how I should have a single sink and not two (I guess what I prefer is irrelevant).  Le Sigh.  Some questions are legitimate and non-accusatory ("is it easy to keep open shelves clean?" is a biggie), so I'm going to tackle them today.  It's been about six months since we finished the kitchen update, and I'm feeling chatty about it. 

Would I Recommend Open Shelving?  Would I Choose it Again?

My Mom is currently pondering a kitchen makeover (torn between a full reno or spit + polish) and recently she asked for my honest thoughts on open shelving.  Would I do it again?  Would I recommend them to others?  Would I recommend them to her?

Yes, definitely.  Maybe.  No.



I still love our open shelves.  I love the storage we gained and how easy it is to grab something or put it away.  I know that sounds silly (how hard is it to open a door?), but I was totally been clocked in the head - more than once - by an open cupboard door when Hubby and I were both bustling around in the townhouse kitchen.  Open shelves are safer when there are two cooks in a relatively petite kitchen.  I enjoy sitting at the counter and admiring my Pyrex and pretty Iittala glassware while I crunch my cereal.  I've never been one for clutter and I think my aesthetic is pretty spartan (sometimes a little too spartan?), but this is the one area where I've got a lot of pretty stuff to look at. 



BUT!  I'd never replace my Mom's perfectly fitted, ceiling-height cabinetry with open shelves.  Her melamine door fronts have bubbled up in the last twenty years and while the style she chose still looks current, they look a bit shabby (which is such a shame).  For her, I'd suggest new cabinet fronts.  For someone like me, who couldn't make use of the existing upper cabinetry (and that's highly subjective), open shelving was perfect: cheap, easy, and it's fun for the interim.  The kitchen feels happy and casual.  When we do our real-deal reno, though, I'd like cabinets again, although I'd probably still go with a few shelves (maybe to the right of the window, for Pyrex?).  My desire for having cabinetry again is partly because the kitchen is so open to the house, so I'm dreaming of a stream-lined kitchen that doesn't look "kitcheny".  However, I'm seriously thinking about keeping a more stylish version of our DIY open pantry for the reno.  I've ended up really enjoying those canisters.


They are so easy to grab and filling them is deliciously satisfying.  I enjoy the look of the uniform shelves and jars with the differently textured contents.  Is that weird?  People have wondered where I keep food with open shelves.  The pantry holds twelve jars - I usually even have empty ones!  Smaller ingredients (baking soda, canned goods, crackers, etc.) are stored in the lower cabinets.  I often decant into smaller mason jars and then things take up less room so I can cram more in.  This winter we're also going to set up some shelves in the basement for our apocalypse over flow of canned goods.



For anyone with dismal cabinets like mine were, I'd definitely give my vote for shelves.  For someone with salvageable cabinetry, I might suggest a mix of open shelves and cabinets, like Mandi Johnson's kitchen makeover (featured on A Beautiful Mess).  I'm actually totally smitten with her makeover and have pinned it a zillion times to every board:

A Beautiful Mess
Is Open Shelving a Dusty, Greasy Mess?

Before I had open shelving, I read a few reviews of open shelving and people who had them (like Sherry and John from YHL) swore they didn't get really messy.  I didn't believe them, because my bookshelves get plenty dusty.  I figured kitchen grime would be ten times grimier than bookshelves.  I can now join the ranks of people who swear that open shelving isn't a pain to keep clean!  I didn't believe them, but now I do.

First, a little more information: we don't have a range hood so when we cook, we sometimes pop open the kitchen window and sometimes even the half bath window, for a nice cross breeze.  I air the house out routinely, anyway (even in the winter - doggie smells!), so this doesn't seem weird to me.  I've mentioned before that we've never had a working range hood, so we're used to it.  We cook about three times a week, often relying on our slow cooker or cooking in big batches.  This way, we coast on leftovers and have more time for not-cooking.  More of our recipes require browning meat, sauteing onions, etc.  Sometimes, though, we'll toss a meatloaf in the oven or use our grill pan for grilled chicken, so we're not cooking with oil every time.  Maybe if we cooked every single day and used oil for cooking every single time, we might have more of a mess on our hands?  I'm not sure, but the dust on the shelves has been minimal - far less than what my bookshelves in the office accumulate, but with a slightly different texture.  Not sticky, really, but not as fluffy as bookshelf dust (so no dust bunnies skittering around, if that makes sense, the dust stays put). 



Funny story: when we moved into the townhouse, the former owners - who had lived there for two years - had turned the kitchen into a horribly, greasy mess.  In fact, all of the walls - from the kitchen to the living room right up to the front door - were greasy and sticky.  It was terrible to get it clean in preparation for paint.  The stove (and range hood) was so horrifying that I actually hired a professional cleaner to tackle it because it was seriously a job for a pro.  She bustled around a bit but after she saw the oven - I kid you not - she "left for more oven cleaner" and literally never returned.  I called and called and called and eventually she wearily answered and offered to clean something else, but not the stove.  It was THAT gross.   After fours years of us living there, the kitchen wasn't greasy at all.  So maybe it's cooking styles?  Cooking frequency?  Maybe the open window is pure magic?

Full disclosure:  I'm fairly fastidious.  I'm not saying this in a smug, humble-brag way.  It's actually kind of a problem in my life and it makes it difficult for me to be productive in a meaningful way (or really relax), because I'm always tidying, scrubbing, washing.  I have nervous energy, I think.  But it's not like I ever need to wash the walls, so I think that we just don't produce as much of a mess as others (like the former townhouse owners).  There's no shame in that, I think the biggest messes produce the best meals.  I don't mean to imply that people who get grease everywhere don't cook as well, I'm just saying that some people seem to produce more grime when they cook, and others don't.

To make this post a bit more objective, I did a little experiment.  About a month ago, I took everything off of the shelves for the first time since we completed the kitchen.  I washed/wiped things if necessary, re-assessed and re-organized (and this was "down time" for me, so you can see that I have issues).  I took a good long look at the shelves.  There was a bit of dust on the top shelf (as in, I could see a faint outline of the shapes when I removed items) but it wasn't horrific and wasn't greasy.  The second and first shelves had a little less dust but the dust was less fluffy (a bit greasy).  The first two shelves are constantly in use and the contents are run through the dishwasher a lot.  When a pile or stack is emptied, I'll wipe the shelf down quickly with a dishrag so the minimal amount of dust wasn't surprising.  I was surprised, however, with how little dust had settled on the top shelf.  It took me a few hours to rearrange and clean everything but a simple wipe-down would have taken an hour - even less if Hubby would have been around to hand stuff to.  After that big clean, I left it for about a month and resisted the urge to do any wiping or dusting (I suffer for my blog).  Yesterday I wiped down the first level of shelves with a paper towel to objectively present the evidence.  This is the amount of dust/grease that settled on one shelf (on the left), after four weeks:


And the other shelf, the one to the right of the stove:


I couldn't see it on the shelf until I wiped it up with the paper towel.  In real life I often use a cloth I've fashioned from cut up clothes (often they've got patterns, etc), so I used a fresh piece of paper towel so you could clearly see the dust.  By the way, I can't believe I just shared my grime on the internet, but I figured it was the only way to quantitatively demonstrate the amount of dust on the shelves.  And there's more, so if the above photos grossed you out, scroll down a bit - quickly!  

Although I purposefully didn't touch the shelves for a month, prior to my study I've found the swiffer duster to be useful.  It's great for getting in between the dry goods canisters and plates and glasses, plus I can easily reach the top shelf with it.  Yesterday I also dusted the pantry shelves and the upper two shelves and this is the amount of dust (again, after a month):


That's not so bad!  The bookcase in my office had way more dust and dirt on it when I cleaned it for the photos for my DIY magazine files.  I think that because there's more activity in our kitchen, things being removed/cleaned/replaced, that the dust doesn't settle as much?  Using a glossier paint finish, like people typically choose for trim and baseboards, really makes it a snap to wipe down or dust.  I wouldn't choose a matte finish for open shelves.  

There is one spot that is super dusty, though: the bottom shelf of the pantry.  Now that shelf gets really dusty - just an insane amount of dust gets in there, likely because it's so low to the ground and near the front door.  That's where the microwave was going to go but after living without one for awhile we realized we don't need it.  A cooler, on the other hand, is essential for getting food home on our hour long drive and when I got my hands on a vintage blue cooler that belonged to my great-aunt (who passed away), it seemed like the perfect spot.  I think about her every time I see it, which is nice. 

Do I Get Tired of Looking at My Open Shelving?

I've spent a good 10-15 years collecting vintage glassware, Pyrex and other goodies and it's nice to have them out in the open, finally fully appreciated.  I'm not bored yet (although reorganizing was fun and I might do it again in another six months).  I know that the kitchen looks like it has an insane amount of turquoise, and like the shelves, the colour is polarizing.  In person, everyone who sees it thinks it's great, but online there are people who think it's fabulous and a few who think it's way too much.  I think pictures are misleading (I blame my skills and my camera.  I almost bought a DSLR for Black Friday but I think there might be better sales in January and February, so I'll step up my photo game soon, I promise).  The kitchen definitely has a hefty dose of colour in real life, but it's not so dramatic because the kitchen is more open and airy than it seems - it's also larger than it appears.  The white to aqua ratio is different.  As well, in real life there's nice variation in the colours, from minty greens to blues.  The sheen and pattern varies - plus the clear glassware is more noticeable, lending a bit more visual interest.  Really, the content of the shelves seems more muted and nuanced in real life - not so bright and not so repetitive.  I don't love the kitchen in photos, but when I'm in it, it looks so beautiful and I can't help but smile.  It's a bold look, to be sure, even in that elusive third dimension.

I did purposefully opt for a stream-lined palette because I think it helps the shelves from looking too cluttered.  If there was a jumble of colour with that many shelves, I think it would drive me nuts.  There is a lot of bakeware and glassware crammed on these shelves - plus lots of sizes of plates and bowls.  Having everything white, clear glass, or some shade of turquoise/blue, soothes me.  Also, it's just my cup of tea.  My super ordered brain likes to see this kind of uniformity.  And this kitchen was meant to be personal and fun.  One day I'll have a serious kitchen (right now I'm loving this one), and I'll look back on these days and say, "hey, remember when we were young and crazy and had a totally insane turquoise kitchen?"  For someone tackling a more permanent spruce, I might suggest a more neutral colour like Emily Henderson's kitchen, which can easily be made more wild, or more subdued and elegant, with accessories and art.

Emily Henderson
But I wanted to go bright - it might be a once in a lifetime opportunity! 

Better Homes & Gardens
I know that it's visually pleasing to mix some orange or red with aqua so that it's not so AQUAAQUAAQUA, but I just love the whites and blues and grey together.  The heart wants what the heart wants (but I added some seasonal red for you!).  You'll notice that I did move my photo turned into an oil painting to the kitchen (I'm testing it out and weighing my options), so between that and the enamel paintings from Hungary above the stove, the eye can rest a little before it's assaulted by more turquoise ;)


Have I Made Peace with the Brackets?


Nope, I still don't love the brackets.  If you recall, Hubby was adamant that we get industrial-strength brackets and wood shelves.  I wanted thicker shelves, but these were pre-fab and easy, plus the thickness matches that of the open pantry, so maybe I like the thickness after all.  I still pine for thick, floating shelves.   But in the kitchen they would look weird butted up against the pantry, and they'd compete with the gloriously thick wood counters Hubby and his Dad made.  Still, look how pretty:

A Beautiful Mess
BUT, the Pyrex has not come crashing down, so maybe I'll grow to love the monster brackets.  The wood shelves are similarly holding strong (knock on wood), with no signs or warping or buckling.  Maybe with our forever kitchen, if I do a bit of open shelving I'll finally get the floating shelves I want.  It's Hubby's kitchen too and I catch him checking the brackets from time to time, pleased with their performance.


I think that's all I have to say about open shelving.  I've been jotting down some thoughts on the entire kitchen makeover: what we love, what we regret, what we'd do differently, and what I've realized about what I need/want from a kitchen.  I'll share those thoughts at some point, but I want to live with some things (like the wood counters and painted cabinetry) so I can get a better sense of how they wear.  In the meantime, feel free to ask me questions about any aspect of the kitchen update

And please, weigh in on open shelving - especially if you have it!  For people considering it, it's always nice to hear different opinions.  I'm sure that location, weather, heating systems, pets, kids, cooking styles, ventilation, etc., all impact how dusty these bad boys get, so my experience is very limited.  When the kitchen was featured on Apartment Therapy it was the people without open shelving who seemed to know so much about it getting messy, but many people with open shelving confirmed that it's really not that big a deal to keep clean.  The debate rages on but, in a moment of frustration (someone accused us of not eating spaghetti!), I came up with this theory:

Ignore the grammatical errors.  I was incensed.  But I tend to make grammatical errors regardless. 
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61 comments

  1. Great post - I think your open shelves look amazing. When I first started reading your blog I wondered how hard they would be to keep clean. They aren't the right fit for me (I like things behind closed doors) but at the same time I don't have a gorgeous collection of pyrex either. I do, however, love the idea of a mix of both open shelves and cabinets with doors (photo from A Beautiful Mess).

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    1. Thanks! Closed doors are lovely and one day it will be nice to have them again. I had to de-clutter quite a bit and some of my beloved mis-matched (or non-turquoise) things are hidden in the credenza (shhh, don't tell anyone I have mis-matched things). That kitchen from A Beautiful Mess is a stunner - I love every single thing about it!!

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  2. I think your kitchen is lovely. It is a bold choice and I think you did well for meeting your budget/needs balance :) Because, after all, every reno is a balance of needs and budget. Somehow ppl feel that since they read a few blogs they are now authorities on all things design. I personally believe that a home is a very individual thing and what may work for me, won't work for others. And vice versa. I believe I've mentioned in a comments a while back that I really admire how you stick to you colour palette. Aqua is a bold choice and as long as it makes you happy, its the right choice! :)

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    1. Thank you for your kind and thoughtful words. I've always thought that the point of blogging (as opposed to magazines with rooms created by designers, for example), was to provide a variety of perspectives from real home owners/renters, sharing what works for them in real life. I know that not everything, maybe hardly anything, I do will appeal to people but if an idea here or there seems like fun for someone, then my blogging has served a purpose. I figure that having a lot of inspiration - of different tastes, executed in different homes, tackled with different budgets - is a good thing. But someone on Apartment Therapy seemed to think that the point of blogging is to submit one's work for critique. I think it says a lot about people if they think that's the whole point. And it's kind of a sad perspective. There's a place for constructive criticism, but it shouldn't be the most important objective, held above all else.

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  3. Don't let the anonymous internet commenters get you down! You do not need to defend anything. I think when people see really nice (especially DIY) homes posted on decorating sites, they themselves feel defensive and feel the urge to be critical. They seem to forget that they are commenting on a normal persons home, not the work of some anonymous stylist for a huge corporate home magazine or something.

    I am considering a mix of upper cabinets and open shelves for my kitchen so thanks for the insights.

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    1. Thanks! I promise I don't let the turkeys get me down. But it's been a weird transition from criticizing my home (which I'm fine with - we all have different taste), to criticizing me, which I just think is inappropriate for a DIY/home blog. Normally I laugh it off, but there's a couple of comments I've felt compelled to address. I was telling my hubby that negative comments just mean I've made it big in blogging, lol.

      I'm happy this post was useful! I think a mix of open shelves and cabinets is the perfect blend.

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  4. I like your open shelving because of the color palette. My dishes are such a jumble it would look horrible.

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    1. Thank you! I think if I had a lot of different colours in my dishes, I'd go with really simple cabinetry. All white or grey lowers (or maybe a navy or charcoal grey) and then still the white walls and white shelves could make colourful, jumbled dishes look nice and homey. Very mellow art (maybe black and white photos?) would calm things down.

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  5. I love the look of open shelving, but I confess up front that I have some obsessive weirdness going on that prevents me from having it. I would want it to be picture-perfect at all times...meaning I'd set it up to look just right, and then I'd never want anything to be out of place, so I'd use paper plates and plastic glasses rather than disturb the stuff on my shelves. See? Seriously obsessive. ;)

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    1. Haha, I get you!! I spent way to long deciding where things would go (still striving for that elusive "balance"). Once it's set up, it's easy to put things back where they belong and they stay tidy when they're out in the open. BUT, when there's a whole row of glasses missing it bugs me. One or two I don't notice because of the white on white with a lot of my dishware, but a row makes me antsy. If anything, it makes me run and empty the dishwasher in a timely manner, lol. But I totally understand about not wanting to disturb things.

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  6. Tanya, Wonderful post. I suppose I fall into the greasy kitchen category, for whatever reason that may be. Probably because I am impatient and fry all my vegetables instead of baking them. My fastidious husband manages to stay on top of it, however. I love our vent hood. In our first two apartments we didn't have one (what a mess that was, and smoky while cooking). Our last place had a hood/microwave combo which was so noisy I didn't use it even though I could. Now... FINALLY we have a modern, quiet, and functioning hood fan and all is well.
    On the topic of personal preference... my kitchen cabinets have not been updated since the 1960s and I love them that way!! I am now trying to play the balance game between vintage and modern. Open shelving might have a place in my grand scheme for the future, and I will pin this post to reference later.

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    1. A functioning hood? You're living the dream! Seriously. It will be nice to have one at some point. I don't know why some kitchens/cooks are messier. But I bet you make delicious things.

      I love vintage cabinetry! Cabinetry from the 1960s was so pretty - and so much care went into some of those kitchens, when hand-crafted, custom cabinetry was the norm. My parents house, from the 1950s, had cabinetry my great-grandfather made. It had the laminate counters with metal edging - so cool. I'm sad they ripped it out (but the layout was so wacky). I think it's awesome you're keeping them.

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  7. I love your aqua kitchen, the large jars and your pyrex collection. The aqua looks great to me but then of course I love blue and aqua combined with white. Personally I would go with cabinets and a few of those with glass doors. Yes, I'm a coward... Besides I have too much stuff that doesn't co-ordinate very well and would look hideous on open shelves.
    Linda

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    1. Hi Linda! I love that you love blues and whites as much as I do. In the long-term, cabinets with a few glass doors (or maybe glass on the very top shelf of each) would be fabulous!! It's not cowardly to want them or prefer them, especially if you've got them! I've had to jettison/hide some stuff to keep the shelves from looking too crazy. Cabinets certainly have many, many advantages.

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  8. Your kitchen is lovely and obviously works well for you! I think it's scrumptious. I get really annoyed by hateful comments on design blogs. OK, you don't like it, or it wouldn't work for you. SO DON'T DO IT AND YOU REALLY DON'T NEED TO TELL US. Can they not refrain from disparaging others' choices? Some commenters can be so lovely and others are just focused on being mean. Treasure the lovely ones!

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    1. Awww, thanks Diane! I don't even mind constructive comments - especially if they're based from personal experience. If someone said, "oh, wood counters turned our terribly for me because of ... and here's how you can avoid it ..." I'd be happy for that! Even an opinion, while less valuable, is fine. But when it gets weirdly personal I draw the line. But you raise a great point: I definitely value sweet and kind comments even more!

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  9. I enjoy reading your blog regularly. I am also a regular Apartment Therapy reader. Those commenters are a rough crowd sometimes. Don't let it get to you!

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    1. The commenters can be so odd. They get so invested! I've seen people really duke it out in the comments section, and someone told me (I didn't see the post) that a woman's weight was criticized!! WOW. I've had people come to my defense and although it's sweet, they've gotten into arguments with others over defending my home. I hate that it gets so heated. That energy could be directed to so many more important things! I have started to ignore comments there. I know I'm missing nice ones, but I just don't have the energy.

      On a happier note, I'm so pleased to hear that you enjoy reading my blog! That's nice to hear :)

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  10. So happy I found your site! When I'm not cooking I love to decorate and design and paint. Well, you get the idea!

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    1. So nice to e-meet you! I'm happy you found your way here. I'm definitely going to check out your blog because I've been itching for some new recipes. I'm in a bit of a recipe rut and I'm working on getting out of it.

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  11. Ugh, commenters make the weirdest inferences based on decor. I've even heard people criticize someone's parenting skills based off of the way a little girl's room was decorated, seriously? I loved your notes and found them helpful as I consider open shelving from time to time. I think I'd do just a few open shelves as I like my junk behind closed doors. I'm glad you enjoy your Pyrex display, it's lovely!

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    1. Oh yes, I've heard those parenting critiques too. That must sting, for parents. I think that if your cupboards are nice and you're happy with them, just a few strategic open shelves are pretty - but not necessary! I lived happily for many years without them. But I was surprised to realize they're not that messy.

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  12. (I just posted a comment, or so I thought! Here goes again, and sorry for any duplicates!) I am so glad you posted this today because just last night I was googling 'best material for open kitchen shelves'! We are about to do a reno and put in some open shelves for our most used items - plates, bowls, cups, etc. I'm wondering how your most frequently used shelves are holding up - is the painted wood marking at all? Is it showing wear and tear? Do you have any recommendations on that kind of thing? Many thanks!

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    1. Sorry, blogger ate your comment. I hate that and wish I could do something about it. It's so annoying! I appreciate you re-typing everything. You ask excellent questions and I think I'll update the post to include them.

      I have heard some folks say that melamine shelves can warp. I know some of my brand new closet shelves that are melamine are starting to bow. We chose a laminated wood shelf from Windsor Plywood. It's lots of pieces of solid wood forming one solid shelf. It's thin, but sturdy and with the number of brackets we have, we've experienced no warping at all. Because it's not one solid slab of wood, we've had no cupping either.

      In the post about building the counters, I talk about how wood can cup/warp:
      http://dans-le-townhouse.blogspot.ca/2014/04/kitchen-progress-our-diy-solid-wood.html

      I primed the shelves with zinsser primer (one coat - or until the knots are covered) and then used a semi-gloss version of the wall paint. Someone who works in paint once told me that it takes 31 days for paint to cure. Purely by accident, our shelves were left to cure that long. I have not had a single paint chip or problem. The surface doesn't stick and the glossier finish makes it easy to dust. In our last home the inside of the cupboards were painted but I don't think I let them cure long enough because paint did lift off there in a few places, but the combo of primer and waiting seemed to make all the difference with the shelves.

      In the post below, I've got pictures of the shelves before they were painted.
      http://dans-le-townhouse.blogspot.ca/2014/06/the-big-kitchen-reveal.html

      I've only had experience with these shelves and I have to say they've been fabulous. If you have a local lumber supplier (not a big box chain) in your city, chat with them. They might have better recommendations. But I know a solid piece can warp but a laminated piece of wood shelving should stay put.

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  13. It seems there is a whole culture of people who like to get on the internet and start crap, whether subtly or directly. Hopefully you're able to find it laughable eventually. Forget them! Even if you ordered pizza or take-out every night and didn't cook, who cares?

    I also think you have humbly underestimated your beautiful kitchen. When I first saw it, I fell in love. (It helps that turquoise/aqua is my fave color, but still.) Those brackets are hardly noticeable. Your kitchen is bold and unique! And I'm totally jealous!

    I appreciated reading the feedback on open shelving too. I always wondered how well or not it worked...

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    1. I'm laughing about it now! For years, now, I've found some of the criticism of my home kind of funny. It's such a weird thing to get worked up over. But they're getting more personal, so I need to work on letting those go too. I haven't been able to fight the urge to reply!!

      Thanks so much for your kind words. Really, I'm blushing! I'm happy the brackets aren't noticeable. They work well and I was happy to see they were already white. The Pyrex is safe, so I guess that's all that matters, lol. It's always nice to find other people who love aqua as much as I do!

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  14. I am also working with an interim kitchen while I save for an eventual full renovation. I was in a kind of unique situation when I bought my house though that the kitchen was completely gutted - usually people are stuck with ugly cabinets, but I just had none. For now I have a couple sets of stainless steel shelves as my primary storage. I had literally one single upper cabinet, that the inspector insisted my contractor put in (I think the insistence was related to having a safe place to store food, not under the sink.) In the ~year I've been in the house I was never able to make the one single upper cabinet really work for me though - just too much stuff still to store no matter what I used it for. A couple weeks ago I finally took the single cabinet down and put in four, 4-ft-wide shelves in its place. (Starting 18 inches above the sink and about a foot apart up to the ceiling. Picture on my Instagram account, @mscbsoxy.) I'm OBSESSED with my new shelves! I have so much storage now, and like you I love to look at the unique things I've collected. I love how flexible the display is, that it can constantly evolve. I also wanted real "floating" shelves at first but ended up opting for brackets because each shelf could support up to 200 lbs. Not having to worry about how much weight each shelf is supporting is worth the brackets to me - all the floating shelves I could find in the size I needed only supported maybe 40-75 lbs.

    I cook a lot - closer to 3 times a day than 3 times a week - and I am not a neat freak by any stretch of the imagination. So we'll see how my shelves hold up in the long run in the cleanliness department. But regardless they were worth it just for all the extra storage (and subsequent massive increase in kitchen functionality!) Eventually I will put "real" cabinets in but I might keep these open shelves above my sink even then!

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    1. Shelves are such an awesome fix for an in-progress kitchen. Your brackets look kind of similar - and equally sturdy! But you know, I didn't even see them at first. People are right: when it's not your kitchen, you look at the stuff first. I love how you having everything displayed, especially the jars of dry goods. They look so organized but also kind of casual.

      What are your new shelves made of? Someone was asking about the best material for open shelves. Are your stainless ones holding up? It will be interesting to see how someone who cooks a lot deals with open shelves - you'll have to let me know! I forgot about breakfast. I cook breakfast sometimes, but usually it's an oven thing. Never eggs and bacon, more like an quiche or oatmeal. Lunch is sandwiches and soup - lazy me, lol! I was only thinking dinner when I was thinking about my cooking habits, because that's when the olive oil comes out. Maybe I should be more specific in my post.

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  15. I couldn't do the open shelves, maybe just a few by the window like you mentioned but not a whole kitchen of it, I'm not that tidy. Not to mention my dishes are so mismatched it would look a mess even when clean lol. I do like the look of it though when done right......in other words, in my style lol.

    People online can be so ridiculous. I'm not sure how open shelving means you don't cook or eat spaghetti. I swear the internet, or anonymity of it, brings out the worst in people. So judgmental and say thing they would never say in person. Blah.

    If you ever need to get out some of that nervous energy feel free to stop by and clean my house lol.

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    1. I've thought about becoming a personal organizer, but I think I'd make too many people cry. In my limited experience helping people get organized and de-cluttered, they've cried. It would be such an awesome job, though.

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  16. Holy cow, you aren't kidding about how the mention of open shelving makes some people lose their manners! I responded to an open shelving thread on a popular cooking blog and the majority were insisting it was the worst idea in the world.

    We are planning a gut job remodel of our tiny kitchen at our cabin. We are there nearly every weekend and I cook three meals a day from scratch. Our heat is hot water radiators, we have two cats and one child. It might take a year but I'll report back.

    A forced uniformity and extreme minimalism are two things I am looking forward to with my future shelves. I have been actively challenging myself to purge gadgets, duplicates and misfits from my kitchen. I feel I am at the point where I have what I need to cook efficiently. It has made cooking and clean up a breeze.

    My pots, pans, bakeware, and mixing bowls will go below the counters. The glassware and mugs will go on the wall above the dishwashers. I woll have one large pull out pantry storage for dry goods and two slim, vertical pull out cabinets for spices on either side of the stove.

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    1. I honestly can't wait to hear your feedback!! You're right about purging. I did a lot of that and I can't even remember what I got rid of. I remember it was hard to do at the time, but now I guess I don't miss the things. Sentimental misfits got a spot hidden in the credenza.

      Your shelves sound like they will be very organized - you're so on top of things! Good luck with your remodel. It sounds so exciting.

      Open shelving seems to be a weirdly sensitive topic. I just hope those same people are as fired up about things that matter!

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  17. Hi Tanya!

    LOVE your blog (still). As a kitchen designer, in our area we don't see a lot of open shelving, but the few I have done for clients are very pleased with it! I hope you'll let me look at your ideas and possible layout for your home! I LOVE my job, it's so much fun! I plan to have a wall corner cabinet that; has a 90 degree angle (like the bottom) not a diagonal angle (yes my next kitchen is already designed) that will be a finished interior and no door so that I can put pretty things in it!

    PS your dog is SO cute :) love all her photo bombs

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    1. It's nice to hear your clients with open shelving have been pleased with it. I don't often see it in professionally designed kitchens either, except for maybe as an accent or display area. I think of open shelving as more of a budget-friendly, awesome-for-now idea.

      I will definitely take you up on your offer for input on our future kitchen reno but, right now, I don't want to think about it. I don't want to pine for something I can't afford, lol. I'm putting my blinders on and just fully enjoying the happy space we have right now, because this it our kitchen for the next five years. I'm one of those weird people who can be totally happy with what I have, no matter how small or basic, as long as I don't dwell on what else is out there. The second I fall in love with something else, I can grow really unhappy with what formerly made me happy. This is why I can't even go into stores, sometimes. I guess it boils down to terrible willpower, lol. I'd make an awful Buddhist.

      But your ideas are so awesome! And I love that you have your next kitchen designed! So maybe I'll get over my weirdness.

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    2. Every time I see your kitchen it makes me happy. Your Pyrex collection is great. I think displaying a collection you love makes your house personal.

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    3. Thanks Ann! You're so right: I love the way that you can get to know someone from the treasures they display, be they collections or pieces picked up on travels. I like a home that looks collected over time.

      And I'm happy that my kitchen makes you happy! It makes me happy, too. Although I wish it looked as good in real life as it does in photos. I'm working on that...

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  18. Loved reading through this. We are currently neck-deep in a kitchen reno that will take years... but we are definitely going the open shelving way. Anyways, It's good to get all the nitty gritty. Also, I too have struggled with crazy NEGATIVE weird comments from larger sites. I finally just had to tell myself that if something was featured on XXX then I just couldn't read through the comments. You are not alone!

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    1. Yep, I've recently decided that too! Which is a shame, because there are normally way more positive/constructive comments and I'm ignoring those too by default. But if someone really wants to connect, I'm easy to find. I find it interesting that readers of certain sites think everything is shared for critique and then bloggers are called out for only wanting "yes men". No, we just spent countless hours and bucks on a project or room and don't want a critique at this point. In the planning stages? Sure! When it's nearly done? Okay. But when it's done, unless it's a simple and free suggestion, I don't want to hear it! I want to put away my wallet and be happy with what I've bought/made/created. And then readers of these sites wonder why there's less and less content to be devoured! Well, when you lambast the people who put stuff out there, they feel less inclined to deliver eye candy.

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    2. P.S. I'm happy I'm not alone, but it makes me angry that you've had negative comments too! Your place is so pretty!

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  19. Hi Tanya,

    I so loved your open shelving when I saw it on House of Turquoise I copied it right down to the brackets. I also tracked down turquoise and white Pyrex but have many less than you (although I'm still on the lookout for it). I hope that you don't mind. It's pretty, fresh and happy. The shelves work for me and my lifestyle with almost everything being used and staying clean...and did I mention how pretty it is?

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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    1. Hi Dianne! Really?!? Oh, I'm so thrilled!! I'm so happy that you liked the shelves enough to do the same thing in your kitchen and that it's made you happy! It's so hard to find reasonably priced Pyrex now - especially the turquoise - but it's great you've been able to track down some. You've really made my day, so thank you!

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  20. Oh swoon...your Pyrex collection is to die for! Love it. And love the open shelves; looking forward to when I can do that sort of revamp in my kitchen.

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    1. Thanks! I've been picking up pieces for 10-15 years but I did splurge on a few harder to find ones when the shelves were done. Prices are so nutty now, I'm happy I started earlier. I hope you find open shelving as fabulous as I do! It seems they're a love/hate thing.

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  21. WOW! Years ago a friend told me she was putting in open shelving in the ranch house she was moving into I made the comment you will have to get matching dishes. We live too far away for me to see that I was wrong.

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    1. I don't think there's a right or wrong here. Whatever floats a persons boat and makes them happy. I think cheery, mismatched dishes would look cute, but perhaps with more muted cupboards, though, lol.

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  22. Adorable kitchen! Great points to ponder. Awesome temporary re-do!

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  23. Please enjoy your collections and your lovely kitchen. I collect dishes, also, and took the doors off of my cabinets and displayed my dishes in the open boxes for several years. It is so easy to grab a plate or bowl when I need it, and I love looking at my collected dinnerware and vintage dishes and serving pieces. Your home should please you and your family. Life is short, seek joy!

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    1. You're very right: seek joy!! So happy to hear that you've been able to enjoy your collected dishware too. I know how great that feels :)

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  24. I am totally and completely in love with what you have done with your kitchen. Your collection of Pyrex and glassware is fabulous and brings happy memories of growing up with these items to mind. Thank you for sharing and keep on loving and enjoying your wonderful kitchen! I know I can't have open shelves as I have 4 cats and even though I brush them every day, cat hair is everywhere. And as I have to wipe my stove and counters down before I can do any food preparation in my kitchen, I wouldn't give up my furbabies for anything. I love the open shelving, but will have to stick with closed cabinets. Oh well!

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    1. Thank you so much! I definitely understand how people have different needs/limitations. My pup had the most matted coat so luckily she sheds very little. If she shed a lot, I'd put doors on faster than you can say "vintage Pyrex sale," lol. My fussiness is in the bathroom. Open bathroom shelving is very trendy, but I use so much hairspray to pump up my fine hair and I get this dusting of it everywhere. Gross, I know, but that's why my bathroom is so spartan. Got to decorate for how we live. Thanks so much for your comment - I love hearing from folks.

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  25. Please put the name/number/brand of that gorgeous turquoise color on the site! I am dying to find it. Beautiful kitchen! Thanks.

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    1. It is CIL Niagara Mist. Sorry, it's on the "reveal' post but I didn't think to include it here. Thanks for the nudge to include it! And for your kind compliment :)

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  26. Love it! Where on earth did find the turquoise spatulas, etc? Been looking for some for ages. Thx

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    1. Thanks! They are KitchenAid, but I think they're from a couple of years ago. I found dead stock on Ebay but I've also seen them at Winner's and HomeSense (the Canadian TJ Maxx and Home Goods). Amazon might also have some - there were some listings there back when I bought mine. There were many different kitchen utensils on ebay, but I picked what I use. There was a matching can opener, cup measures, kitchen scissors - tons of stuff issued in this colour.

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  27. I think your kitchen is awesome! I love the aqua and white, clean and fresh and looks beautifully well organized (I envy your pyrex by the way!). We have two open shelves and yes they do get dusty. I have noticed no 'oily grimey' stuff but wipe them down every two or three months. Because they are way up high and I'm a shortie, these shelves are used as open display shelving for my irish crystal stemware and collection of fine china teacups. don't let the nay-sayers get you down, you did a lovely job and as long as YOU like it (after all, you do live there!) let that negativity that others share so often on blogs, drift harmlessly out the kitchen window. After all, the negativity they have is their problem and the beautiful kitchen is your delight.

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    1. Thanks so much!! I'm always happy to hear from someone else who has and loves open shelving. Your shelving sound gorgeous - I'm sure the crystal stemware just gleams and glistens when the light catches it! And I love tea cups - I have a Lily of the Valley tea cup collection stashed in my basement that I just don't have room for, so I live vicariously through other people who put theirs on display. I've definitely moved passed caring about any negativity. I've had some really terrible things happy to my family this year and not only did that put internet dissenters into perspective, but I've also come to appreciate how much my house is a haven. I'm totally relaxed and at peace here, and it's because I've tried to create a space my Hubby and I can love - something that works for us! I'm thankful that I've done that and that I have this refuge. Seeing my Pyex continues to make me smile and dusting from time to time is kind of peaceful, lol.

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  28. I absolutely LOVE your kitchen. So fresh, clean and welcoming. Thanks for posting.

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    1. Thank you so much! I really appreciate your kind comment. I still love this makeover, two years later - it's such a happy space to cook and bake in :)

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  29. I am ABSOLUTELY IN LOVEEE AND AWEEE with your open shelving set up. It's beyond gorgeous. I can't imagine why would anyone detest this. I to, have a small 10x10 foot kitchen that has to fit a stove a fridge and two door spaces 😑. I definitely needed open shelving to make the space look bigger and make things easily accessible. Upper cabinets are open while lower cabinets have doors. Anything below counters gets dirty and dusty really quickly. I tried it lol. My open cabinets however isn't above the stove like yours but opposite. We do have a range hood and an exhaust fan that pulls out the smoke and well the range pulls the grease. I never had problems with grime or grease on any of my shelves or dishes and I don't even think I ever see dust lol. My glasses are always shining and seeing the light hitting them is always something I can sit and enjoy looking at. I love being able to sit in the kitchen while waiting for a pot to heat up or my tea to draw and just admiring my decor and organization on my open shelving. I have to find a color scheme to stick to though lol. I get fed up of colors quickly if it's too overpowering. I used to love pink but I've long outgrown it 😏
    I have done extensive googling on if I should have had open shelving but only got to realize that Internet views on the topic is all a matter of preference and what works for each individual. I would do open shelving all over again for the dishes that I need frequently. I would admit not everything I like to see, but my everyday dishes and some beautiful decor pieces makes absolutely no sense being stuck in a cupboard hidden away. I can't imaging how annoying it would be to have to open a door every time I want a cup or plate..🙄 Especially 5:30 in the morning when I'm groggily preparing breakfast for my hubby 😕. Anyways I've said a lot. Thanks for this post. Even though I'm sold on open shelving it was a great read. 😊😊😊 Take care 😘

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    1. Thank you so much, Candice-Marie! I hear so many negative things about open shelving - from people who don't have them, lol - so I love hearing from folks who actually have open shelves in the kitchen. That you love them too is an added bonus! I know, I can't imagine the hassle of opening cupboard doors in our small space, where we already dance around each other to make dinner, haha.

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