How Renovators Used Open Shelving in Their Kitchens

by Kelley Rowland

Making a stylish storage statement one shelf at a time

Upper cabinets have long been a mainstay in kitchen design and frankly, always will be. But there’s something to be said for open shelves: they make a kitchen feel lighter, more effortless, and more open. Plus, they pretty much force you to stay organized because there’s nothing for clutter to hide behind. See how Sweeten renovators incorporated the look into their own culinary spaces.

Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and up to $50,000 in renovation financial protection— for free.


A touch of Scandinavian

This homeowner wanted a “mid-century Scandi meets ’70s Italian modern” kitchen. Clean lines and leaving the space as open as possible achieved this look. Custom-made floating shelves behind the peninsula, and all along the sink wall, do the trick. They provide plenty of storage for everyday items and decorative accessories without overwhelming the kitchen.


Topping the backsplashopen shelves kitchen

Custom wood shelves run along one wall of Sheilaja and Sergio’s galley kitchen. They provide a nice contrast to the all-white palette. Plus, they hold books and artwork that bring a personal touch to the cook space.


Storage for space and airPark Slope, Brooklyn, home, renovation, living room, design, construction, kitchen

This tiny kitchen looks much bigger than it is thanks to the exposed back wall anchored with white oak shelves. Upper cabinets have suffocated the space; instead, light from the living area streams in filling.


Shelving for tight cornersopen shelves kitchen

Bellamy and Zak’s kitchen presented a few design challenges. A door for backyard access was needed as well as space to accommodate “must-have” double ovens. All said and done, there wasn’t a ton of remaining wall space for more upper cabinets, so instead the couple chose shelves to host ingredients and dishware.


Standout hardwareopen shelves kitchen

Reconfiguring the kitchen layout allowed Jeremy and Chris to extend the cabinetry and add an integrated refrigerator on one wall. The opposite one would host a banquette, sink, and long open shelves. In addition to keeping the space from feeling too enclosed, the shelves show off the Carrara marble backsplash.


Stacking shelves

Nazli wanted an open feel for the parlor floor of her family’s brownstone. “My solution was to forgo upper cabinets so there’s a clear line of vision from the front the of the room all the way to the dining room,” she shared. To make up for the lack of storage from closed cabinets, she opted for shelves on the opposite wall that frames a walk-in pantry.

Can your kitchen fit a peninsula or an island? Find out the differences and the space needed for each type.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, and scope, helping until project completion. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation on Sweeten.

Explore other stories