Feature article

How to style open shelving in your kitchen

Far from exposing clutter, open shelving in the kitchen can deliver a taste of luxury to suit all aesthetics.

Last updated: 16 April 2024

Open shelving is not just a way of increasing the sense of space in the kitchen, it also provides a practical and beautiful way to store essential kitchen items. Here are some open shelving kitchen ideas to try in your space.

Cover image: A monochromatic kitchen by Margaret Young Design. Image: John Williams

Contrast your open shelving

Open shelving units in the kitchen come in an endless amount of materials and styles. Choose from timber, metal, stone, laminate and glass to suit your needs and the style of your kitchen.

Don’t be afraid to mix up styles. Timber shelves can counterbalance a slick contemporary kitchen, while glass shelves add a clean modern element to a rustic space.

The way they are affixed to the walls will also have an impact on the overall look of the kitchen space. Floating shelves work well to create a sleek look, while metal brackets can create an industrial or mid-century vibe.

Floating shelving in a kitchen by Carmen Hubber from Hub Design. Image: John Williams

Create a coffee bar or open liquor cabinet

The latest open shelving kitchen trends include converting a shelving space into a dedicated coffee bar or an open drinks cabinet. Having a specific space for these creates a sense of ritual around the experience of preparing drinks. Plus, it allows you to show off your gorgeous coffee machine and mugs, or beautiful stemware and favourite tipple.

Simply install a couple of shelves on the wall within a nook in the kitchen to create a bespoke space for drinks preparation.

Corner open shelving in the kitchen

It can be challenging to make a corner space in the kitchen useful, but corner open shelving is one of the easiest ways to make the most of this space.

Simple, triangular-shaped corner units can be installed on the wall to house items you would like to make a feature of, such as a vase or artwork. Alternatively, run open shelving units down the wall and around the corner to create a seamless look.

Contemporary open shelving by Celia Visser Design. Image: John Williams

Kitchen island with open shelves

Open shelving is not limited to the walls above your bench; it can be cleverly incorporated into a kitchen island or under-bench space.

It’s a great way to store things you use every day, such as cookbooks or jars of spices or dried legumes, and it looks good to boot.

DIY open shelving in the kitchen

Kitchen cabinet open shelving ideas are not limited to expensive and complicated options; there are plenty of DIY products that can be easily installed by anyone with a level and screwdriver.

Choose from ready-made shelves in standard sizes, or order bespoke lengths precut to your space, to give the look of luxury on a budget. And if you want to take the easiest option to getting the open shelving look, simply remove the cabinet doors off your existing kitchen units.


HOME Magazine
HOME Magazine


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