Open Shelving vs. Closed Cabinetry

Let’s talk about storage in the kitchen: Open shelving or closed cabinetry? While most of us will admit that we geek out over beautiful traditional kitchen cabinets, open shelving can be an affordable, gorgeous storage solution that let’s you show off your own styling skills.

Open ShelvingPhoto:, Design by Bilotta

Open Up

Open shelving might be something you gravitate towards if you prefer a casual, cottage feel in your design. Or if you’re dishes are all white, this look can take on more of a Scandanavian feel.  If you’re building your own shelves, consider using some stunning pieces of reclaimed wood for a rustic approach.

Open ShelvingPhoto:, Design by The Brooklyn Home Company

Shelves provide adjustable storage options at a fraction of the cost of custom cabinetry. If your kitchen is cursed with a strange layout, a weird wall or some tight spaces, shelves might be the perfect answer for you.

Open shelvingPhoto:, Design by Jane Ellison

The drawback? You’ve got to be neat about it. When you let it all hang out, people can see all of it. Dish soap residue, mismatched bowls or even your favorite, hideous plastic travel mug from 1989 could all detract from your kitchen’s overall style and décor. Committing to open shelving is committing to a little extra effort. You decide what to hide, what to display and how to display it. You’ll need to dust more often and you’ll need to style a little bit every day (that part actually sounds fun to me).

Closed cabinetsPhoto:, Design by Joann Kandrac

But that’s not to say your hard work doesn’t have its benefits. If you’ve got a set of dishes or cookware that you’d like to show off, it can be the star of the show. Open shelving allows you to play with your personal style and versatility.

Keep It Closed

Closed CabinetsPhoto:

Kitchen cabinets can be works of art. And the materials, from gorgeous woods, eco-friendly bamboo, stainless steel, could go on forever. If you’re starting to design your kitchen, your cabinets can set the entire space’s tone: French country, modern, shabby chic, traditional. Your  cabinetry could easily become the cornerstone of your kitchen’s style.

Closed CabinetsPhoto:, Design by Sarah Richardson

I also love cabinets because they provide places to hide every gadget, dish and food item that doesn’t match the décor. They’re adorable homes for all of the items that kitchens tend to accumulate, and they keep the room looking clean and clutter-free. That being said, you don’t want them to hide your personality along with everything else. While it can be tempting to let your cabinets do all of the talking, be sure to keep your own pops of color and sense of style in your kitchen.

Closed CabinetPhoto:, Design by Andreea Avram Rusu

And, of course, we can’t talk about custom cabinetry without talking about the cost. While cabinets come at a variety of price points, they can easily eat up any kitchen’s budget. They require commitment, both financially and when it comes to your kitchen’s layout, as they’re not easily changed, moved or refinished.


So what do you think? Are you cabinet crazy or feeling a little shelfish?

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