Open Kitchen Shelving

Open shelving in the kitchen can be a little controversial.  People have a tendency to think, “I don’t want everyone seeing all my mismatched dishes.” or “I don’t want the pressure of having to keep everything neat and organized all the time.”  
But if you choose a few specific, key items to keep on “display” and have a certain spot for each of those things, open shelving can be really pretty and open up the room.  
In our kitchen, our glass cabinet shelving holds our everyday plates and bowls, as well as a few decorative wooden bowls and my favorite Mikasa chevron plates and cups. 
The light olive plates are from my single days and are made by Calvin Klein.  The off-white place setting is from our wedding registry at Crate & Barrel.  The wooden bowls are from Pottery Barn.  

Jimmy’s bachelor white Ikea plates and bowls are still with us.  

It’s easy to keep things organized when you don’t have more things than you have room for.  Every dish has a specific place where it goes. Whoever puts the dishes away knows exactly where to put them.

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Lately, I’ve been considering doing something with the back of the cabinets (paint, wallpaper, fabric??).  
I still love these Calvin Klein plates and bowls.  I remember they were my first “set” of dishes as an adult and I searched all over before finally deciding on them.  They have a great weight to them.  (p.s. I found them at Macy’s).

The black plates with the gold rim are from Z Gallerie.  

Do you like open shelving in the kitchen or prefer to keep your things behind closed doors?  


  1. April 20, 2012 / 11:06 am

    I really love the look of open shelves (behind glass so there isn't any dust collecting on your plates!). And I think that you're right! Not all your shelves should be open, just some. The pots and pans aren't really that nice to look at, so you wouldn't have to display them 😉

  2. April 20, 2012 / 11:10 am

    I love open shelving, but agree, you have to be selective about what you put in it. I used to be a fan of decorating the backs of the cabinets with a pattern, but now I tend to lean more toward just a simple color so as to not compete with what is in the cabinet, and making it easier to change things up if needed.

  3. April 20, 2012 / 12:24 pm

    I like open shelving for plates and things too!

    But…dont you think that is a ridiculous amount of plates????

  4. April 20, 2012 / 1:17 pm

    I love the openness of the exposed cabinets! Especially when you have such pretty dishes like yours!

  5. April 20, 2012 / 1:34 pm

    I love glass doors if there are beautiful dishes behind them like yours. And, I love that fruit basket on your counter. Lovely post!!!


  6. April 20, 2012 / 3:03 pm

    I think that your kitchen is perfect and even if you stored cat food in there, I would like it! Seriously, I do really love open shelving and the way you have organized it looks great.

  7. April 20, 2012 / 3:12 pm

    We have glass front cabinets in our house, and love them. I think they make our smallish kitchen look a lot more open and airy. I've considered painting the backs of ours, so I say go for it! It's easy to change it back if you don't like it.

  8. April 20, 2012 / 3:15 pm

    Well, it looks nice! But the practical side of me is thinking, that is a lot of glass to keep sparkly clean.

  9. April 20, 2012 / 3:56 pm

    I have always had an glass cabinet door in my kitchens and i have always displayed my wedding china in them. Now seeing your post, I am thinking about changing what is inside as it is not matching at all the colors in my current kitchen.
    Thank you for the suggestion.

  10. Kelli
    April 20, 2012 / 12:01 pm

    I love the idea of glass front cabinets, especially in a white kitchen. We have a small section of uppers and lowers between our dining room doorway and our laundry room doorway, I would love to change the upper doors to glass to show off my china. I also love backing the cabinets with mirror so you arent competing with your display items, and you bounce light back into the room.

  11. Bernadette {Chic Spaces for Little Faces}
    April 20, 2012 / 12:28 pm

    I love the glass doors as well. I think it would look really nice to paint or do some type of wallpaper in the background. Maybe paint as not to take away from the chevron pattern. Your Kitchen is gorgeous!

  12. Anonymous
    April 20, 2012 / 5:48 pm

    Love the pictures and the Chevron pattern! Question – where did you get your Bread box. I love the icon for 'bread' and was wondering if you purchased it this way or you did a DIY to it to customize? Love it either way and hoping you will share!!!! Please.

  13. April 20, 2012 / 6:40 pm

    I'm a big fan of open shelving…I think it is here to stay – and I'm obsessed with your Mikasa plates and cups!

  14. April 20, 2012 / 7:15 pm

    Love those chevron mugs and plates! I wish we had open cabinets, I think it really opens up a kitchen.

  15. April 20, 2012 / 7:25 pm

    Those chevron mugs are gorg!! I am totally in favor of open shelving, probably because we put some in in our kitchen. The top shelf is for more pretty china display and the lower shelf holds our every day dishes. We use them all so often that the shelf neve has time to get dirty or disorganized. And its so much easier when putting things away. I love them.

  16. natasha {schue love}
    April 20, 2012 / 2:45 pm

    I thought your first photo was out of a magazine!! So pretty! Love the idea of open shelving to break up a big kitchen! It adds interest!

  17. April 20, 2012 / 9:01 pm

    i love open shelving! The hardest thing is convincing my husband that he loves it too haha..

  18. April 20, 2012 / 10:17 pm

    I have some open shelves and I think it makes a fun contrast to all the rest of my closed cabinets. And yes…like everyone else, I LOVE your chevron plates and cups! How fun!

  19. April 20, 2012 / 11:42 pm

    I love open shelving, but only a few cabinets. I have a very similar set up in my kitchen with the three cabinets and counter space separate from the rest of the kitchen. I have already decided when our kitchen cabinets get a makeover I want those three cabinets to be open shelving!

  20. April 21, 2012 / 12:28 am

    We have those same CK plates, but in chocolate brown. I just HAD to have them on our registry and love them as much today as I did 7 years ago. 🙂

  21. April 21, 2012 / 3:36 am

    I love open shelving! It makes you stay organized and inspired to have pretty dishes and glasses. I loooove those chevron cups!

  22. Michaela
    April 21, 2012 / 3:00 am

    I think open shelving is a total must! Like you said- just pick a few key things to keep organized and you'll be fine 🙂 It definitely opens up the room, breaking up all the standard cabinets.

  23. April 22, 2012 / 12:30 am

    I really like the open cabinets. Why hide all those pretty dishes? And I love your bread box! Where did you get it?

  24. April 22, 2012 / 1:37 pm

    Hi guys! Just wanted to pop in to mention that the bread box was a gift from our wedding registry- I think from Bed, Bath, and Beyond. The bread label is made by Shelli at House of Smiths and they are for sale- you can order them from her site. She worked with me to customize my labels, so I'm sure she can do that for you too!

  25. April 23, 2012 / 4:27 pm

    I love open shelving but at this time of my life I could never pull it off. I'm a college student with mismatched dishes.

    Your open shelving is stunning. I love those chevron mugs!!!


  26. Eryn
    April 24, 2012 / 2:19 am

    I love the look of open shelves but could not pull it off! Way too many baby accessories! Love your mugs btw!

  27. Anonymous
    May 2, 2012 / 12:32 am

    I have forgotten where I heard this (probably Martha), but it's one of those tips you keep in your back pocket until you get a chance to use it.

    Get some foam core board (Hobby Lobby, Michael's, etc) and cut it to fit your cabinet backs. Try for a close as you can fit. If the board is too short, put the seams where the stiles are or tape pieces together with duct tape if you plan to wall paper or cover with fabric.

    Paint, paper, or cover with fabric. Push them into the back and you have a completely changeble background. You can even make a few and change according to mood, or seasons.

    Kathe C.

  28. July 26, 2012 / 11:21 pm

    Where did you get your chevron mugs? Those are SO gorgeous! I love how they look in the cabinets too! So eye catching! 🙂

  29. February 2, 2015 / 3:51 pm

    I keep seeing those chevron mugs in Army Wives and *need* some… or at least ONE for myself. haha Of course they're older and I'm having no luck. Any chance you're sick of them yet?! hehe

  30. Ellie Chamberlain
    May 12, 2022 / 1:10 am

    I’m visiting your page for the first time, and your article is extremely interesting for us who want to design a kitchen for our new home. Thank you for sharing this educational blog with us.

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