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

December 17, 2014

How to Style and Use Open Shelving in the Kitchen

I'm so happy that many of you found Monday's post, re-assessing my kitchen open shelving, useful!  There were some excellent questions (and suggestions) raised in the comments, so I'll be adding to that post later today.  In addition to worries about keeping open shelves clean, a major obstacle to opting for open shelving seems to be concern for showing off less attractive kitchen wares.  It's definitely a bit of a challenge to organize open shelves so that they're functional and also attractive.  I've only re-arranged mine once in six months and I guarantee I'll do it again, partly because it's fun, but also because I'm striving for the best arrangement.  I find myself paying close attention to open shelving in kitchens now, trying to pick up tips. 

The simplest way to style or organize open shelving?  Collect matching or complementary dishware, like this beautiful jadeite collection, which is easily and effortlessly arranged:

Style at Home
Not everyone can piece together a beautiful, vintage collection, but just having a set of dishes (they don't need to be fancy), instead of bits and pieces, makes it simple to arrange them attractively on a shelf:

Via Nicety
My dishes are all white -  most are a set of Villeroy and Boch, snagged from HomeSense seven years ago - but I've also got some random vintage plates (white with a turquoise pattern) and Hubby's beloved (but chipped and awful) cereal bowls.  Because they're all white, it's hard to tell that they're not a set, so I'm cheating my way through.  The Pyrex collection up top is handy because it's distracting ;)

If mismatched dishes are holding you back from trying open shelving, then maybe keeping plates behind closed doors but showing off pretty glass food canisters might be the way to go.  I mentioned Monday how much I love our open pantry, but these ones put mine to shame!

Via The Budget Decorator
I love how these matching canisters look and they're so practical!  I've been shopping at bulk places to re-fill mine, and I love that I'm saving a bit of coin on some grocery staples and also cutting down on packaging.  I'm currently brainstorming cute but practical ways to display/store loose leaf tea (it's tricky because tea doesn't fair well when exposed to light, which is a shame because it's often so beautiful).

Ella Claire
I do think, though, that beautiful open shelving can be had even with random pieces mixed in.  I think the key is to simplify a bit.  I de-cluttered and pared back a lot, and probably should have jettisoned more but I've got too many sentimental pieces so I made them work (and hid some in the credenza).  It also helps to find some common thread, perhaps a colour or natural material, like wood.  If you study the shelves carefully in the following pictures, you can see that these shelves don't house perfect sets or collections, and there's definitely some mixing and matching, but they all look tidy and beautifully styled.  Most seem to offer great function, too, with few purely decorative objects but lots of useful items.

Better Homes and Gardens
Better Homes and Gardens
Polished Pebble
Style at Home
Restless Arrow
Thanks for letting me share the open shelving eye candy I've been admiring.  I love finding inspiration for my own shelves, plus I find it encouraging to see other folks eschew upper cupboards  - like this beautiful kitchen renovation from All Sorts of Pretty.

All Sorts of Pretty

All Sorts of Pretty
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10 comments

  1. If you are looking to store loose leaf tea David's has some very cute ceramic canisters with bamboo lids - they have them in white and teal :) (http://www.davidstea.com/teal-ceramic-tea-storage?&TF=E285AEEDE310&DEID=).

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    1. Oh gosh, those tea canisters are so pretty! Of course, I love the teal. I've been looking for something stackable because I currently have eight kinds on the go. I also saw this magentic board with tea tins stuck on and I wondered in that might look cute on a wall (and free up some cupboard space):

      http://www.pinterest.com/pin/104990235038798339/

      But I do love the canisters you showed me! Hmmmm. I've pinned them, so I can think on it some more. Thanks for the link!

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  2. As far as sentimental and/or oddball, mismatched pieces go, I did something untraditional with mine. We have a library area on the other side of the wall from the kitchen.

    This has an area of built-in shelving and I did a total purge of books and magazines, keeping only ones I absolutely could never find again. If I could reference it on-line, check it out of the library, etc. - it found a new home.

    This freed up lots of shelf space. I now have sentimental favorites mixed in between stacks of books. A special bowl is perched on top of a stack of gardening books. Nice serving bowls bookend (in theory only) another set of books. Bulk rice is hidden in a crock.

    Uniform storage containers are great for shelves and cupboards. I use containers for staples and cereal.

    Full disclosure - my hubby was NOT a fan of this practice but I overruled him because I do all the cooking, cleaning and food-related duties. He now accepts it.

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    1. Hi Heather, I love your idea!! It's definitely untraditional, but it's a great way to showcase some beautiful and sentimental pieces. I love hearing about clever and personal ways people deal with storage!

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  3. That fridge in the first pic!!! I want.

    I have started collecting those glass candy jars like in the 3rd pic, they are too cute and I have so many ideas besides just food. I keep rice and flour in them on my counter top (one empty becaue I am indecisive) but I also have ideas to create a terrarium in one and I want to fill one will left over balls of colorful yarn. Just love them. I should have bought another when I was at Target yesterday, they're only $10. *kicking myself*

    And just an FYI for buying in bulk.....if you are buying flour or other grains like that that you can get bugs eggs in them because they aren't in sealed containers. I bought some whole wheat flour from a bulk bin, put it in an air tight container when home, went to use it and there were dead bugs in it. Ick. I hear you should put it in the freezer for a couple days when you bring it home to kill anything. But just the thought of eggs being in there and eating them, bluh.

    Haha, I am talking about everything but the open shelving. I do love how it looks though. Probably not for dishes for me though. I buy what I like at the moment and never think of the bigger picture in the end, so they never match. But I do have all my baking goods in small canisters with stainless steel lids that look so purdy, those would look cute on open shelving once I get them some pretty labels.

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    1. The fridge is amazing. In the kitchen, featured in Style at Home, there's a matching stove, too!! It was custom matched to the Jadeite. So jealous.

      Gross about the bugs!! I buy my rice and oatmeal at Costco and my Flour in bags from the grocery store because a a plastic bag filled with flour, a twistie and an hour long drive home (oh yeah, and a 7km bumpy dirt road) has disaster written all over it. BUT I do buy my cereal, pasta, brown sugar, and some spices from the bulk place. Are those safe? Now I'm super grossed out, but that's good to know!

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    2. I think those ones are safe, I believe it's just the grains. I think you can get pantry moths, not sure of the actual name, but they are a b**** to get rid of. Do a quick search on it......I have a horrible memory so don't quote me on it lol.

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    3. Yeah, a friend in the States had pantry moths and she said it was terrible. I will have to find out if she buys bulk. Blech. I can't even...

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  4. My sister has spray-painted "illy" coffee cans and they look great. Perhaps spray David's Tea cans instead if that's what you're buying.
    Caroline Csák, Calgary

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    1. That's a great idea! It's good to know that the spray paint has held up and that they still look great! Definitely a fun idea to consider, thanks :)

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