Trend Report: Open Shelving

On the fence about open shelving? If you flip through any lifestyle magazine lately, open shelving abounds in kitchen design, mirroring an old world-esque kitchen of our ancestors where the kitchen served much more as function than fancy. Plates, pots, and bowls were always at the ready, displayed front and center for convenience.

Many homeowners today cringe at the thought of dusting that wonderfully bare space, in fact, Nicole Anzia, professional organizer and owner of Neatnik, discussed the plausibility of open shelving in a recent article in the Washington Post:

“The problem is, most of us don’t use display-worthy dishes every day,” explains Anzia. “Often, the open shelving becomes a display space in an area that would have been the perfect place to store daily dishes. Before you add open shelving, consider how your pieces will look and whether you’re up to the task of keeping the shelves neatly arranged.”

Well, we’ve considered it and found a small pop of open shelving will satiate the desire for pretty open shelving, yet adhere to realistic expectations for collections of “display-worthy dishes.”

Simply pare it down.

PB Kitchen Design Open Shelving Geneva IL Glen Ellyn Wheaton

Why go overboard? These scaled down shelving options let you have your cake and eat it too, without the sense of urgency to keep it stocked with an abundance of attractive tableware. Additionally, minimum hues and textures can also help maintain a clean look, while providing the perfection opportunity to introduce a splash of color. And a quick swipe with a feather duster makes for an easy breezy (and dust-free) surface.

Danica Rog of makes another helpful observation in terms of displaying items frequently used in the kitchen (plates, bowls, glasses, coffee mugs, etc.) to tone down the maintenance concern for open shelving, and we couldn’t agree more!

“The things you use every day should be the things that play starring roles on your shelving. Not only does this make things easier to get at daily, it also combats the biggest complaint of open shelving: dust and other icky things finding their way into your tableware,” explains Rog.

“Constant use will keep them clean, as most things should end up going through the dishwasher in a weeks time. Keeping your open shelves further from the stove also will keep the grease down.”


Image project details (clock-wise):

Rustic Kitchen in St. Charles, Illinois. See another example of open shelving in our portfolio.

Classic Styling in Wheaton, Illinois. Calcutta marble and stainless accents below the open shelving seen here with frequently used items like coffee mugs and stemware. See more of this kitchen on Houzz.

Farmhouse Chic in Hinsdale, Illinois. Adjustable open pantry shelving. See more of this kitchen in our portfolio.