Open shelves are not only convenient, they add character and charm to your living space..
Own a beautiful collection of crockery and glasses? Invested in the best pots and pans? Love cooking and enjoy finding food inspiration in a colourful set of cook books? Don’t hide them all away behind closed doors. Put them on show and have them where you and your family can easily reach them.
We all like things to look neat and tidy but having only cupboards and bare surfaces creates a sterile, soulless space reminiscent of a developer’s show home.
Open kitchen shelves filled with frequently used cooking utensils, favourite foods or pretty plants and pots of herbs immediately injects life and personality into your kitchen and makes it feel cool rather than clinical.
Of course, you don’t want things gathering dust, so choose what you like and use most to display and then decide where and how much shelving you need.
See these kitchen worktops.
The options are vast, so think about what would suit your kitchen and your lifestyle. Do you want to create an industrial look or do you prefer it to be sleek and smart? Do you like the idea of a professional cook’s kitchen or hanker after a relaxed style, where friends can grab a glass and top themselves up?
The scaffold style shelves below are designed by an architect but it’s a look that’s relatively inexpensive to emulate. Ditto the timber shelves on brackets. Both have a homespun vibe that’s simple to create. Just ensure your shelf supports can take the weight of whatever you intend to stack on them.
Perhaps you’re less hung up on the practicalities and are aiming for individuality over utility. In which case displaying an offbeat collection like the one at the end of this post, beats kilner jars and crockery..
Looking for more kitchen ideas? Check out these timber kitchens.
The kitchen was constructed to have the feel of a cool bar and features a marble-clad island where friends can sit and chat while the owner cooks.
Get the look The bespoke kitchen, designed by Tara Bernerd & Partners, includes black iron-framed sliding fluted-glass panels, limed-oak shelves and a Carrara marble-clad island. The Shadows glass and wood pendant lights are by Brokis. The OD 61 bar stools, upholstered in Zanzibar velvet by Vescom, are by Erik Buck.
The bespoke, industrial wall shelving set against a clean backdrop of Carrara marble and white tiles lends a lightness to the space.
Get the look Wall shelving, The French House. Cabinet handles, Schoolhouse (US) – try Swarf Hardware.
Instead of overhead units, the focal point of the bespoke kitchen is the row of Indian glass paintings, the simple super-long shelf lined with pretty bottles, pots and vases, and the antique chandelier, hung deliberately low to relax the lofty proportions of the interior.
Get the look The bar stools are by hay. Find a similar chandelier at Norfolk Decorative Antiques. For pendant lights like these, try Heal’s. The kitchen is by Daulby and Tickle.
So the room ‘didn’t feel too white and sterile,’ the couple chose bronze mirrored glass and marble for the island.
Get the look The island is made from Calacatta Vagli marble from Italy, sourced by Jon Loveday. The Raimond pendants are by Raimond Puts for Ox-ID at Moooi. These are Charles Ghost stools in Matt Gloss White by Philippe Starck for Kartell. The Axor Citterio Semi-Pro single lever kitchen mixer tap is by Hansgrohe.
This couple fitted a built-in desk and bar into a wall next to the kitchen and dining space, which can be concealed or revealed with a perforated screen.
Get the look For similar tiles, try Walls and Floors. The ceiling light is from Masson For Light in Melbourne. Try netlighting.co.uk for similar. Giles Miller Studio could custom-make a perforated metal screen like this.
The white china was a gift from the owner’s mother-in-law, who runs a cookery school. The dark grey wall of shelves provides the perfect display area.
Get the look For a reclaimed kitchen table and bench, try Pacha Design. Find a light like this at Hector Finch. The kitchen units were designed by Melbourne architect Stephen Akehurst. Try Plain English for similar. The rug is from Behruz Studio in Melbourne. Find similar at Luke Irwin.
The bespoke cabinets are made from reclaimed floorboards. They, the shelves and the table are lightened with quick-drying chalk paint, which the owner says is a decorator’s dream due to its malleability.
Get the look Quirky Dovetail is a good source of reclaimed glazed cabinets.
These bespoke shelves are made from scaffold clamps and faux scaffold boards, and sport a coral-shade trim that’s prettier than the building-site versions. The worktop, sink, upstand and splashback are in stainless steel.
Get the look: The kitchen is from John Lewis Of Hungerford. The island is from Peppermill Antiques. The shelving is by Alexander Owen Architecture. The flooring throughout is Dinesen.
This kitchen has been given a radical new look thanks to a wall of bold striped tiles and stainless steel shelves. The whole kitchen was done on a budget and cost about £2,000 thanks to a few clever ideas.
Get the look: The kitchen was designed by Rory Robertson. The cabinetry is painted in Chia oil eggshell by Bert & May, which also supplied the concrete fittings. The wall and splash back are clad in Pesadilla tiles by Bert & May. The Danish table and chairs are from Béton Brut.
Designed to suit the needs of a large family who are all keen cooks, the kitchen includes a range cooker, deep larder and chalkboard for recipe essentials. The simple scaffolding shelving make it easy for to grab utensils when they’re needed.
Get the look: The range is from Everhot. This is a bespoke kitchen from Holloways of Ludlow. Shelving, Holloways of Ludlow.
Industrial meets vintage meets modern in this bright and airy open-plan kitchen.
Get the look: The bespoke cabinetry is made of metal: for similar, check out the Phoenix design by Varenna/Poliform. These are H stools by Chantal Andriot for Tolix. The suspended storage-cum-display unit is bespoke– to create something similar, see Ikea’s Omar modular shelving system.
Tiling is taken up to the picture rail to accentuate the height of the room, while vintage lighting, fluted glass-fronted cabinets and shelves that replicate luggage racks add extra gleam.
Get the look: The cabinetry is bespoke by Barkerdesign. The Zellige wall tiles are from Habibi Interiors. The Holophane pendants are from Felix Lighting Specialists. The shelving is from Alex MacArthur. The vintage bar stools are from Two Columbia Road. The range cooker is by Smeg.
The open, white oak shelves with custom-made brass brackets and eclectic piles of crockery add a softer, more domestic vibe.
Get the look: The Honed Petite Granite floor tiles are from Integrated and the Grove wall tiles are by Waterworks. The white oak shelves and brass brackets were all custom made. The collection of crockery is by Sir/Madam. The Tolix bar stools are from Antiquaire.
The standout island worktop was crafted from reclaimed parquet flooring, while two structural beams became the perfect spots to hang lighting and a quirky display shelf from.
Get the look: The bespoke kitchen was built by Gregos Builders and is painted in Farrow & Ball’s Black Blue estate eggshell. The pendant lamps are vintage German Bakelite found at Sunbury Antiques Market. This is the Grottesco tap from Stockholm-based company Tapwell.
In this sleek kitchen, crisp white Corian contrasts with the deep matt texture of a black polished plaster splashback and a limed oak joinery box.
Get the look: The kitchen was designed by The Vawdrey House and made by Higham Furniture.
Instead of pots and pans, the offbeat dolls on these shelves make it feel more integrated with the rest of the house – less like a kitchen, more like a display space.
Get the look: The kitchen cabinets is a custom design by P&T Interiors, with a black lacquered finish. The worktop is made with Black Corian. These are Subway wall tiles in Black from Waterworks. The Hob is from Bertazzoni. These are Randa K taps from MGS. The extractor hood was a custom design by P&T Interiors, using a hood insert from ProLine Range Hoods. The ceiling lights are from Delta Light. The jars on the kitchen island filled with sea shells are antique.