There’s a real mix of feelings when it comes to open kitchen shelves. On one hand, you’ll have the people who absolutely love them and on the other, you’ll have the people who take one look and think of having to keep them perfectly styled all the time and fear that they’ll have to wash dust and grease off their plates every time they want to use them.
Well, needless to say really, I fall firmly in the first camp. Here’s my own open shelving in my kitchen…
Living with open shelving has taught me a few things and I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on it as well as sharing some brilliant inspiration for lots of different styles that incorporate that lovely open shelving look.
William Morris famously said, “Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” Well, happily your kitchen is probably the best place to apply those words of wisdom. The secret to open shelving is to ensure your beautiful items are displayed and your merely useful items are hidden away.
When we first incorporated open shelving into our kitchen, I realised something pretty quickly. I just didn’t really have enough items worthy of display! So little by little those empty shelves have been filled and I’ve given myself the excuse to buy crockery and plates, bowls and mugs that I wanted to use and that were pretty enough to leave out. Life is just too short for ugly dishes!
I slowly rid myself of the garish free mugs you get at events, the mismatched wine glasses that I bought at Tesco for a pound each when I was single, stowed away the set of 80’s style yellow and blue plates my boyfriend had passed to him by a relative and tossed away the stained tupperware containers that didn’t have lids. I gave away the pieces that didn’t fall into my own personal ‘beautiful’ or ‘useful’ categories.
I replaced food packets with large glass Kilner jars and transferred my spices to small hinged jars. I pulled out the teapots from the backs of my cupboards and put them on display. I gathered my favourite gold hardware and piled them into cleaned out gherkin jars for a bit of bling. I bought a couple of colourful baskets to store spices and all the instruction manuals and warranty information for my appliances so that they were easily accessible but didn’t detract from scheme.
I didn’t have the money to just replace everything all at once and I’m still adding and subtracting from my collection. I admit, in the beginning, some of the shelves were pretty sparse. But I’ve enjoyed filling them with things that are both beautiful and practical over the last couple of years.
I’ve also found there’s no better way to introduce a bit of colour into what is normally a fairly neutral space in our homes. Colourful plates and dishes are a great way to give your kitchen a pop of colour.
Using paint or wallpaper to accent the shelves looks great and can be changed fairly easily too.
Now what about the worries of grease and grime? Well, I’m happy to report that because I have things on my shelves that I use all the time, there’s little time for things to accumulate any kind of dust. And that’s the other secret to open shelving – only display what you actually use.
I imagine that it helps that my shelves have ‘sides’ on them – shelves that are entirely open may require a slightly higher level of tenacity to keep them looking their best. I do find that items on the very top shelves which don’t get used as often can sometimes be a little furry when I take them down but to me, it’s no different than pulling something I rarely use out of the back of the cupboard – a quick wash and it’s ready to use. I will put up with a small inconvenience because to me, the look is worth the little bit of extra effort.
What about you? Which camp do you fall into?