Dennis Toomey
July 2024
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Open Shelving in the Kitchen—Yay or Nay?

Watch any home improvement show from the last several years, and you’ll see it: open shelving in the kitchen. But is this trend something you should embrace in your own space? 

Does it have staying power or will it wither away once people come to terms with its lack of function? Will you love it or regret it if you rip out all your upper cabinets? Those are the questions we’re posing today as we examine the pros and cons of open shelving.

Rise in popularity

If it seems like open shelving is everywhere, that’s because it is. “Open shelving is one the most popular—and also the most controversial—kitchen trends of recent years,” said Apartment Therapy

Some kitchens, in an effort to look updated and open, have eliminated upper cabinets entirely, integrating open shelving instead. Others utilize the trend more marginally, replacing just one or two smaller sections of upper cabinets. If you are wary of converting your entire kitchen to open shelving, this is a good starter. 

Another way to get your feet wet is to simply remove the front of your cabinets instead of taking them down all together. This way, you can get the look without a major change, and you can always put the doors back on when the fad eventually passes.

Light, airy, and open

That’s what a lot of people are looking for when they make the decision to go with open shelving. And it works—sometimes too well. Getting rid of all the typical upper cabinets can sometimes make a space look too minimalist. “Open shelving can also look a bit… unfinished,” said Apartment Therapy.

Showcasing the goods 

Then again, it’s a great way to highlight china, nice dishes, or décor items. 

Highlighting a mess

Of course, that requires you to have china, nice dishes, or décor items, and to be able to display them in some kind of orderly fashion–instead of like a typical home where bowls may be mismatched, or at least stacked unevenly. 

But, if you’re seeking a way to get motivated to have a clean and orderly kitchen, this could help. “If you’re looking for a built-in, training-wheel kitchen setup to help ensure that you stay organized, then open shelving might be a good idea,” said HGTV. “The trick is: you have to commit to keeping things neat so you can avoid having your kitchen look like a hot-mess yard sale.”

It’s dusty in here

Regardless of what your dishes look like, they’re likely to get dusty without the benefit of being behind closed doors. “While we love looking at neatly arranged dishware on an open shelf, the reality can be a bit frustrating. Namely, due to all the dust and grease that end up on the carefully-arranged plates, bowls, mugs and glassware,” said House Beautiful. In fact, the site is so adamant about its stance on open shelving that the trend made its list of “9 Trendy Home Features That Are Secretly a Pain.”

Dennis Toomey
E-mail: [email protected]

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