Our Process: Open Shelving and Exposed Cabinets in the Kitchen

image found on pinterest

image found on pinterest

Open shelving and/or exposed cabinets in a kitchen (or dining room) are a pretty great, am I right? It seems like the last couple of years more and more people were forgoing traditional cabinets in their kitchens in favor of open shelving. Below is Beth Kirby of Local Milk Blog's new picture-perfect kitchen and boy does she set the bar (or shelf!) high!

A well-displayed shelf or curio display is going to look effortless with an assortment of items which look perfectly at home together but that doesn't happen on accident. Regardless of the particular style of your home or kitchen, there are a few rules of thumb which we believe will help you achieve a swoon-worthy display.

Our rules of thumb for styling open + exposed shelving

  • Our top rule? - Particularly for open shelving - It should be functional. display items that get used often! (dinnerware stacks, everyday glassware, jars of ingredients if you bake regularly, seasonings if you really use them. A stale display that doesn't get used (and then washed) is just going to be a dust collector (and Marie Kondo 'aint having none of that!). The exception would be for enclosed glass-door cabinet shelving...this could be a great place to display your pretty servingware which rarely gets used. (But even then, the rest of these rules still apply). 
  • Consistency is key: consistent color (white dinnerware and servingware) or consistent material (porcelain, glass, books, metallics, wood..whatever, but generally consistent). or consistent theme (french press, container of coffee grounds, mugs or a collection of your liquor bottles). Again it's functional but also now logical and visually clean. Too many conflicting patterns/materials/types of items is going to look cluttered and cause you a level of stress every time you look in that direction.
  • Then, once you've got that consistency, POP! it with another color or material used in a smaller dosage. (you've got mostly stacks of white dinnerware, regularly used mugs then pop it with wooden cutting boards or a potted plant). You've got your clear everyday glassware, then maybe throw in a set of 4 glasses with a vintage pattern or a stack of colored fleur de lys glass from Anthropologie...you get the idea.
  • Include varying heights. Vignettes in various heights are by far more interesting. If you can stand back, look at your shelf, take your finger and trace a triangle over a some part of the vignette then you're in doing something right.
  • Leave some part of the shelf EMPTY! That is right. Don't fill the entire shelf edge to edge. Leave some negative space for a visual rest. 

{Images found on Pinterest.}

To recap, let's look at a quick list of COMMON MISTAKES:

  • Not enough height variation
  • Too many colors and textures
  • Disparate items sharing the shelf space 
  • No "negative space"

Do you have any open-shelf or curio cabinet displays that you think are a winner? tag them #WeDesignWednesday for potential reposting on our Instagram feed. 

Also, This is a great way to take advantage of our One Day Design House Call Service. We'll come over, raid your cupboards and find the best collection of items to create a compelling and functional display in your kitchen or dining room!