Open Shelving in the Kitchen

Date: June 19, 2019

Open Shelving in the Kitchen: The Pros and Cons
If you watch HGTV often, you know that open shelving is one of the hottest trends in kitchen designs right now – and for good reasons. Open shelves give you the option to showcase your personality and favorite possessions. You can add color, as well as convenience. They blend well with nearly any design style, from contemporary to minimalist to traditional.
Yet, for all of its visible benefits, there are some drawbacks. Here, we take an objective look at both the pros and cons of open shelving.
Styling that Melds Old-School and Modern Touches
Though open shelving is trending, it’s not a new idea. In fact, in the early part of the 20th Century, open shelving was the norm, and it retains a novel appearance because of its history. When combined with many of the materials one sees today in a kitchen—from ceramic subway tiles to industrial metals— it offers the potential for a bold twist. You can spotlight decorative items or plants, and use the space to add character and color. Virtually any material can be used to build the shelves, from stainless steel for a commercial kitchen look, to wood for a rustic look, or porcelain to really capture the nostalgic element. Regardless of the materials you choose, the space tends to look larger and brighter with open shelves than with cabinets.
More Storage for the Money
Shelving is a lot less expensive than cabinets to install, as well as to paint and finish when you decide at some point to remodel. If you’re weighing open shelving vs. cabinetry and you’re operating with a limited budget, you get much more storage for the same investment with open shelves. It’s also a project more people can do themselves, which saves more money.
Easy Access to Frequently Used Items
If you’re an avid cook, you will find it handy to have easy access to cookbooks, spices, cooking tools, and knives. Even if you’re just an occasional home cook, it’s still convenient to be able to grab your cutlery and dishes without opening cabinets. For many, once they make the transition to open shelves, this convenience aspect makes it hard to go back to all-cabinet storage.
Everything Is Exposed, for Better or Worse
Do you enjoy regularly reorganizing the shelves in your home office or living room, after people have taken out items and put them back? If not, open shelves in the kitchen just guarantee more of the same work you would rather avoid – and if you use the kitchen heavily, you’ll be organizing and reorganizing frequently. If you currently have cabinets and some of them hide a mess, you won’t have the luxury of a closed door to keep things appearing neat.
Frequent Cleaning and Dusting
If you use your open shelves to store dishes you use regularly, this isn’t an issue. However, if you use your shelves to display items purely for decorative purposes, they will attract moisture and heat from appliances and develop dirty or sticky surfaces over time. Over shorter intervals, they will gather dust – and more of it than they would in closed cabinets. You can use a dusting feather for this, so it’s not a major hassle in most cases. Once a year, you may have to wash these items with soap or a cleanser. This may be an annoyance, but it’s hardly a deal breaker for most people.
Once you consider the pros and cons of open shelves, you may choose to combine the best of both worlds. Having a mixture of cabinets and open shelves provides a sophisticated look, with functionality and a dash of fun. It’s hard to envision that combination ever going out of style.

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