August 12, 2013

Open shelves vs Cabinets



Open shelves vs cabinets.  It’s an old kitchen dilemma.  “Open shelves are so beautiful and opens up the space.  But cabinets are so much more practical.”  The PROS: Brings style into a functional kitchen.  Everyday dishes and cooking supplies are at arms-length in a kitchen work zone.  Shelves can be placed in tight spaces where cabinets can’t fit.  The CONS: Daily dust and grease.  Maintaining neat and organized shelves is a chore.  What’s your preference: open or closed?  Here, some ideas to tap you off the fence, and even a few that mesh the best of both worlds. 

{Above} These shelves are less kitchen-centric and more lifestyle.  In this photo by Chris Barrett, fewer plates and more decorative items, such as flea market prints, small floral bunches and a bowl of fruit add such visual appeal.  One or two shelves can be sufficient.  Use a low shelf for items used daily for an easy reach.


Mesh doors on this cabinet hutch keeps items slightly out of the elements but in full display view.  Photo by Chris Everard.


Who says shelves need to be horizontal?  Going upright offers more flexibility, and can fit into tight awkward nooks.  I love the stark contrast of white walls and dark shelving from The Style Files.  It’s such an artistic and beautiful look.  Ahh, the best of both worlds: open shelves hidden behind sliding barn doors.  I’d switch out a door on hinges for a stunning sliding apparatus any day.  Corbels and a back piece give these shelves a more substantial feel like furniture.


A freestanding shelving unit means it can be placed anywhere, including the middle of a room making it an excellent divider.  It also frees up wall space for something else.



If you’re handy or know someone who is, I think plywood shelves offer a refreshing Nordic aesthetic at a great price.  Venturing outside the kitchen boundaries works well in small spaces.  Straddling storage in-between two rooms, such as the kitchen and an adjoining room makes for a very nice transition between spaces.  


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You are right, open is pretty but closed is less work. I have glass doors with thin frames so it's a little of both.

So glad I ran into your blog and this story as I'm about to gather ideas for our kitchen. I think i'm going to do a little of both!

Thanks for the awesome designs of shelves and cabinets. Free standing shelves free some spaces on wall for other use. So mostly people prefer this.

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