Though we've seen our fair share of swoon-worthy cabinets in recent years, all signs point to a rise in open shelving in the kitchen. Offering both functional storage and the opportunity to infuse an otherwise utilitarian space with personality, it's a kitchen design style the pros love. "Open shelving has been the darling of kitchen design for just short of a decade now and honestly, I don't think it's budging," interior stylist Emily Henderson tells MyDomaine.
Despite the fact that everyone from Athena Calderone of Eye Swoon and Eden Pasante of Sugar and Charm has embraced the enduring kitchen trend, open shelving remains something of a controversial design choice. "There are always challenges with open storage (dust, clutter, etc.)," concedes Henderson. "But if you edit down what you're putting on your shelves—by collecting like items or sticking to a color palette, for example—it's really just a fun way to get creative, which I'm always down for." And we couldn't agree more.
In case you need a bit more convincing, we've compiled 17 stunning kitchens in an attempt to persuade you that open shelving is 100% worth the extra dusting.
Opt for Counter-to-Ceiling Open Shelving
This kitchen designed by A Beautiful Mess demonstrates how counter-to-ceiling shelving draws the eye up, making a small space look and feel much larger than it actually is. Reserve the top shelf for tall decorative items to maximize the visual effect.
Put Your Pretty Serveware on Display
Floating shelves can instantly transform a small awkward nook into a pretty vignette. Take style notes from Shea McGee of Studio McGee and display your favorite serveware—think an earthenware pitcher or a natural wood cake stand—for impeccably styled shelves.
Make the Most of an Awkward Space
Sleek floating shelves, unlike bulky cabinets, can easily be squeezed into any space, as this kitchen designed by Amber Lewis of Amber Interiors demonstrates. Here, a small stack of shelves makes the most of an awkward space between two windows.
Balance Out Bulky Cabinets
Contrary to what you might think, you don't have to completely give up your kitchen cabinets to get in on the open shelving trend. In this space designed by Brian Paquetteou, a couple of corner shelves break up a row of bulky Shaker-style cabinets.
Go Vertical With Bistro Shelving
Rather than stashing oft-used cutting boards, much-loved cookbooks, and special occasion glassware behind cabinet doors, take a page from Cara and Tom Fox of The Fox Group and put them on display with beautiful, counter-to-ceiling bistro shelving.
Incorporate Verdant Décor
Open shelves aren't just for keeping plates and glasses conveniently within arm's reach. Gain inspiration from this kitchen designed by Justina Blakeney of Jungalow and place verdant potted plants between stacks of everyday plates and bowls. Bonus points if you use the space to grow fresh herbs.
Show Off Beloved Pieces of Art
That's right, shelves don't have to be completely utilitarian, as this kitchen designed by Zio and Sons demonstrates. Decorative vases, greenery, and beloved pieces of art fill the space with charm. (Though, that beautiful zellige tile backsplash can't be overlooked).
Shine a Light on Floating Shelves
Floating shelves are a kitchen design staple, and Shea McGee of Studio McGee shows how a pair of sconces can easily take them to the next level. Here, industrial-inspired light fixtures elevate a set of simple floating wood shelves lined with everyday dinnerware and glassware.
Suspend Shelves From the Ceiling
In a kitchen marked by architectural details that are difficult to design around—like a wall of windows, for example—make like Kate Hackworth and suspend shelves from the ceiling. We love how these transparent glass shelves allow natural light to filter into the space.
Install Shelves With Bold Brackets
Leave it to Shea McGee of Studio McGee to make a compelling case for forgoing minimalistic floating shelves in favor of shelves supported by bold, statement-making brackets. In this kitchen, oversized black brackets stand out against a white subway tile backsplash.
Match Your Shelves to Your Cabinets
When crafting a minimalistic kitchen, matchy-matchy can be a good thing. In this space designed by Natalie Myers of Veneer Designs, shelves and lower cabinets in matching walnut finishes lend cohesion to the space and juxtapose nicely with a Calacatta gold marble backsplash and island.
Extend Your Shelves From Wall-to-Wall
Splurging on custom-made shelves can make a huge difference in optimizing your storage space the functionality of your kitchen. Here, Natalie Myers of Veneer Designs opted for built-in shelves that extend from wall-to-wall, taking full advantage of a kitchen with plenty of wall space to spare.
Invest in Shelving Tailored to Your Kitchen
Another case for splurging on custom shelving, this kitchen designed by Zio and Sons features a concrete shelf that spans the length of the space. Positioned above a tile backsplash and illuminated by sconces, this shelf is proof that even a functional storage solution can be statement-making.
Opt for a Three-in-One Solution
In Athena Calderone's kitchen, Calacatta Paonazzo marble does triple duty as a countertop, a backsplash, and a shelf. Keeping the material consistent throughout the kitchen lends a luxe vibe to the space that exudes Old World charm and sophistication.
Select Brackets That Make a Statement
Kitchen shelves serve a rather utilitarian purpose (a.k.a. storing cooking and dining essentials), but that doesn't mean they can't also serve as a standout design element in your space. Gain inspiration from Brady Tolbert's kitchen which boasts shelves supported by gilded brackets.
Next up, 27 kitchen tile backsplash ideas we love.