Without a doubt, the kitchen is the most hardworking spot in your home. Whether you're making the most of the square footage in your galley kitchen or luxuriating in a palatial chef's kitchen created just to your specifications, maximizing space is still a must. Cabinetry has long been the go-to for corralling and concealing all your cookware, but increasingly, trends are turning back toward an even older convention—shelving.
Open shelves are a mixed bag, of course. Items stored on shelves are, for lack of a better description, out in the open, which leaves them susceptible to dust, grease splatters, and the accumulation of grime. On the flip-side, if you're someone who has carefully acquired a collection of dishes, pans, and glassware that you cherish, those objects arranged artfully in your line of sight can make you enjoy your kitchen more. For this reason, we're primed to prefer open shelving—when and where it's practical—to closed cabinets.
In need of a few more reasons to try it out in your own home? Scroll onward to see some of our favorite kitchen shelving ideas of the moment.
Build a Bright Spot
Most built-ins are designed to blend in, but these are made to stand out. An unexpected burst of color serves to delineate the kitchen and dining area, injecting a little fun into this functional design. And as far as "bang for your buck," there's no better shelf-update option than a fresh coat of paint in an on-trend hue like peacock blue.
Architectural archways like this one are a covetable find. If you're lucky, you'll find some as a holdover from a former kitchen design, such as over the sink or standing in for a stovetop range. In that case, you have cart blanche to transform the little flourish into a shelving focal point.
Be sure to populate your shelves with your very favorite kitchen décor pieces for maximum effect.
Try a Tiered Look
We've noticed more and more of these ladder-style shelves popping up—or should we say, dropping down—lately. The look never fails to remind us of a fancy boutique hotel bar, and we're here for it.
Functionally, these are a great choice when designing against natural stone or marble slabs, and you can design the shelves to mirror the organic details beneath.
Go for Organic Wooden Materials
These simple shelf brackets are understated and classic, and that's their true stroke of genius. The light wood shelves bring so much warmth to this kitchen corner, echoing the unique cabinet pulls to the right.
Take a closer look, and you'll see a second type of wood—a lighter, almost whitewashed variety—in planks lining the walls. This unexpected juxtaposition brings on layer of visual interest to the space, all with a natural, organic vibe that we'll surely be paying homage to with our next project.
Cook With Contrast
We're big fans of the moody, dramatic kitchen, but when stark black and white simply won't do, this modern update on the high-contrast look is a surefire success. Light wood shelves in an ultra-minimalist floating style draw the eye upward from the black cabinets below.
To bring a little softness to the spaces, the surrounding walls are finished in a variegated plaster look—a cozier, more casual note to counter the hyper-sleek storage.
Warm Up a White Kitchen
What keeps an all-white kitchen from feeling cold or even clinical? Two key components: plenty of texture and just a hint of warm wood. This space masters both, building in different textures and subtle variations in the shades of white, and landing the entire look with these gorgeous, character-filled wooden floating shelves.
Compose a Chic Gallery
When your backsplash is a gorgeous slab of marble, you really don't want anything crowding the view—which is why this single ultra-long floating shelf is perfect for this space. Everyday objects are elevated to artwork against this striking, minimalist surface.
Add Space for a Book Nook
Remember what we said about maximizing every last inch of space? These tucked-away shelves do just that, making a great little home for less reached-for objects you still want to display.
Spring for Japandi-Rustic
If you haven't caught on to Japandi—the inevitable portmanteau of Japanese and Scandi design—now's your chance. This unique shelving checks the boxes of both our rustic, wabi-sabi aspirations and the understated design sensibility of our Nordic pals. The result is so good, we'd like to rack up a whole bunch of these.
Create a Cubby Corner
Is a cubby a shelf, or is it more closely related to a cabinet? While you ponder that question, we'll be running to the hardware store to pick up some cool wainscoting to install as the backdrop of our kitchen cubbies—because the real takeaway here is, adding a pop of textural contrast is the way to go.
Don't Slight Your Ceramics
While you're in the process of lining the back of your shelves with something textural and unexpected, why not go the extra mile and give your favorite objects their very own spotlight? Your prized ceramics collection deserves it.
Go for Luxe
Another "win" for laddered shelving units: this gleaming kitchen is so luxe and so glam, we'll have a hard time opting for any other type of shelving from now on.
Keep the Case Closed
If you're prone to skip dusting day, open shelving can be a hard sell. Our suggestion: opt instead for a closed display case that takes the place of shelves, as seen here.
Crystal-clear glass-front cabinets will shield your prized possessions from daily grime, while still showing them off for all to see.
Design a Clean Sweep
On the other hand, if you're down to run a Swiffer over things every so often, replacing all your upper cabinets with tidy rows of shelves can add some serious statement-making power to your kitchen.
Of course, it helps if you have a cohesive color scheme like the trendy clay tones seen here, to bring the whole look together.