Inspiration for Styling Open Kitchen Shelves

One of the biggest trends in the last few years in kitchen design has to be open kitchen shelving, allowing for an area of display rather than having everything hidden away behind cupboard doors.

It’s a look that tends to divide people into camps – those that love it and those that hate it. And it’s understandable – with open shelving, you have to be vigilant about cleanliness and tidiness. There’s no place to hide ugly packaging or a mismatched collection of plastic tumblers. It requires a certain amount of OCD-type tendencies to keep it looking great, to always put things back where they belong, to make sure that dust or grease doesn’t take over. It’s simply not for everyone.


I put myself quite firmly in the ‘love’ camp, despite the seeming drawbacks. I love the look of open shelving and how it allows what could be quite a utilitarian space to take on a bit of personality, to showcase the style of the owner and to create a very unique look.


When we first put open shelving into our own kitchen a number of years ago, I struggled to style them. I would look at pictures of beautiful displays in magazines or on Pinterest or on other blogs and felt my ‘collection’ just didn’t look quite right. Over the years, my collection of pretty items has grown and I’ve used my open shelving as an excuse to purchase those pretty plates or elegant glasses that would have been hidden away in years prior. I can now enjoy them every day rather than just when the odd occasion called for it. So I will say, if you are struggling, to be patient and allow yourself time to get the styling right.


Consider decanting your dry goods into large clip top or Kilner-style jars and creating an area that makes cooking or baking more convenient. The clip tops will keep your foods fresher for longer and looks more attractive than the usual mishmash of paper and plastic packaging they normally come in. In my own kitchen seen above, I also gather things like spices, vinegar and cooking oils on one shelf. With everything visible and within reach, making a mealย becomes much easier and I can always see when we’re running low without having to discover a crucial ingredient has run out mid-meal prep.

If you do have a great collection of mismatched pottery or glass, collecting them together on one shelf is a great way to unify the look. Here, the look is more collected and eclectic, combining not just your typical kitchen essentials but plants, framed pictures and decorative objects as well. The lesson here is not to restrict your shelving to just those things you may feel ‘belong’ in a kitchen. Incorporating other items from around the home creates a more casual atmosphere, reflecting the kitchen as a room to spend time in and enjoy, not just where you’d prepare meals.


For a more cohesive look, consider displaying the plates, glasses or collectables that reflect the colours in your space. Above, the bold royal blue cabinets are picked up again with glassware, accessories and plates in the same colourway for a striking monochrome look. You could do this with any colour or combination of colours you choose. It’s a great way to show off ย collections you’ve created over a long period of time and sharing them ‘en mass’ makes an eye-catching display.


As I talked about here on the blog before, your kitchen is the perfect spot for plants. So if you have some empty spaces on your shelving, consider bringing in some herbs and other plants on to your shelves to add some life to the space. Having your everyday plates and dishes within easy reach also makes cleaning a bit easier. These items are in constant rotation and so you’ll have less dust or grease to worry about tackling. Sticking to a strict colour palette – here, an easy-going white – makes displaying them as a collection a chic idea.


And finally, tie in any existing finishes as well for a pulled-together look. Above, white cupboards, marble worktops and gold hardware are reflected again in the objects held on the shelves. Textural ceramic pieces contrast against the warm wood whilst gold touches create a glamorous yet welcoming vibe. The items you choose to display should reflect your personal tastes, of course, to create a cohesiveness throughout your home.

What items do you choose to display in your kitchen? I’d love to see your pictures! Tweet us at @TileMountain1 to share your spaces or leave a comment below.

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As a multi-award winning interior design content creator, Kimberly Duran is an Interior Design-obsessed American ex-pat, who chronicles her decorating journey and dispenses interior design advice in her personal blog, Swoon Worthy. When she’s not helplessly drooling over all the latest trends in design, she’s adding things to the imaginary ‘shopping basket’ in her head, she likes to get messy tackling DIY projects with her partner in crime, Wayne, stalking eBay for vintage bargains and filling her home with her favourite neutral – gold.