Thursday, 23 July 2015

Open Shelving Ideas - Traditional and Transitional Kitchens

When we think of open shelving in kitchens, one might envisage a cluttered look that's a little dated. However, with use of symmetry, balance and good design, open shelving can be the perfect way to show off your cherished items and a little of your personality at the same time.

I am all for having plenty of storage and keeping a kitchen neat and tidy but some open shelving can help balance a space or fill out an area or awkward space that may not have enough room for a cupboard. Open shelving can easily be used to enhance your kitchen.


  • Try not to use too many items (no clutter)
  • Display items as you may if you were creating a vignette
  • Keep the display balanced
  • Use an accent colour such as image 3 below, to add colour to an all white kitchen
  • Use texture, shape and form such as image 10 for an interesting display
  • Paint the wall behind white shelves a darker colour to enhance a display of white china
  • Sometimes a shelf can fit into an awkward space that might not fit a cupboard
  • Unpainted, natural wood shelves can help achieve a more modern look

Open shelving suits country, coastal, cottage and traditional style kitchens even contemporary designs. Shelving can be painted to match your kitchen or you could contrast the shelf colour such as white or glass shelves against a dark background such as the first example above. Natural wooden shelving against exposed brickwork works well in a rustic or industrial style kitchen (images 5 & 6). 

Lets explore some inspiration...

2. Above: Open shelving faces cupboards on the opposite side of the kitchen - Design by Kevin Spearman Design Group 
3. Above: Bright coloured pots enhance this space - Design by Case Remodeling
4. Above: Transitional kitchen Design by Fourseasons MetalWorks
5. Above: A transitional design where country meets industrial -  Design by Elizabeth Cross-Beard
6. Above:  Wood against brickwork looks fab and suits this kitchen perfectly. Here it achieves a more modern look - Photographed by Architectural Photography Group
7. Above: Custom designed wall cupboards with the back painted deep grey, show off the owners white china perfectly - Design by Sally Wheat Interiors

8. Above: A modern twist on tradition by Brooke Wagner Design
9. Above:  Here the black shelves co-ordinate with the black granite bench top beneath - Design by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design
10. Above: If you insist on having cupboards, using glass doors is the perfect solution to show off your china - Design by Renewal Design-Build
11. Above: Design by Taste Design Inc

I think you'll agree by the examples above, open shelving doesn't mean your kitchen has to look cluttered. Well balanced open plan shelving can look stylish and beautiful and the perfect place for displaying your china, kitchen herbs or a lovely vignette.


  1. Hi Lee, i do love # 7 and 11, but i also love the blue painted shelves of number 1. I'm in the process of moving a white bookcase into our family room and so will be styling it, so your post is very timely


    1. I still haven't got around to my kitchen but also love No. 11 which I would envisage similar to the style I want. I do love the blue and wish I was brave enough to paint the back of my bookshelves in my living room in this colour but still undecided and leaning towards the cautious side. Thanks for your comment :)

  2. Love love love #7. Beautiful.

    1. No. 7 is very elegant and organised and I do love that one too.


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