Open Shelves – Pros and Cons You Should Consider

Open Shelves

Cabinets are a must for every home, no matter if you are renovating the kitchen or the bathroom. Still, more and more people are opting for open shelves instead of classic cabinets. What are the advantages, and what are the drawbacks of open shelves? Well, you are just about to find out.

The Advantages of Open Shelves

Open shelves have certain advantages that every homeowner should keep in mind. Here is what you may reap by installing open shelves.

  • They Open Up the Kitchen

Cabinets, due to their size, take up a lot of space in the room. Plus, closed doors make it seem like they are another piece of wall – something that can make the entire room look much smaller. Since you can see the actual wall through open shelves, this will make the kitchen seem bigger in comparison.

“Taking out the top kitchen cabinets is a very popular design trend because it makes the space feel more open and expansive,” says Lowe’s building expert, Megan Lewis. For this reason, open shelves are recommended for small kitchens where you want to create the illusion of more space. 

  • They Allow You to Personalize a Kitchen

If you want to personalize your kitchen, then open shelves are one way to do so. Aside from your dishes and your kitchen items, you can use the shelves to display décor items, such as a set of candles, a painting, or even a nice set of crystal glasses. They won’t stay hidden under closed doors anymore, which will help you personalize the space.

“It gives you a platform to personalize your kitchen with decorative elements as well as ease of access to more frequently used items such as serve ware or a French Press,” says interior designer Danielle Radel. “A serious chef would benefit from open shelving near the cooking zones so spices and oils are only an arm’s length away; a frequent host/hostess may appreciate a column of shelving near the refrigerator or wine fridge to create a bar area,” she adds.

  • They Save Money

Open shelving is typically less expensive to install as opposed to cabinets. Not only does it require less material, but its installation is also less complicated. This will take the price down a lot, especially if you decide to install them on your own. 

You can save a lot of money by installing the shelves yourself, rather than having someone else do it for you. Retailers with installation packages often ask for higher prices, especially for complex pieces. So, if you are looking to redo your kitchen on a budget, open shelving might be the way to go.

Disadvantages of Open Shelves

Open shelves also come with a few disadvantages that homeowners need to know about, including: 

  • They Can Be Messy

Unless you like a minimalist style, shelves can look rather messy. We all use cabinets to hide things that we potentially don’t want to clutter our kitchen with. That being said, when we switch kitchen cabinets with shelves, we run out of places where we can hide the clutter in.

“Very few people are extremely tidy, and these shelves need an organized approach to stacking and storing dishes. The goal is to enhance the room’s design, not detract from it, and kids’ sippy cups, random teacups, and mismatched dishes will not look good on these shelves,” says Liz Toombs, owner and interior decorator at PDR Interiors.

  • You Won’t Have Many “Hiding” Places

You may have items that are not necessarily categorized as clutter, but you don’t want them on display either. For instance, you may have a French press that can look nice enough to be on display, but it messes with the overall aesthetics of the kitchen. If you have open shelves, you won’t have any place to hide that object. 

If you don’t want to make your kitchen seem too busy, you need to keep the bigger items away – and cabinets may be more helpful in this case. Otherwise, some objects might stick out like a sore thumb on the shelf. 

The Bottom Line

Open shelves can make a small kitchen look much bigger, and with a lot more spirit. They are cheaper, and much easier to install. Still, bear in mind that if you are not well-organized and tend to gather a lot of clutter, shelves might work against your aesthetics.


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