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6.12.2012

Open Shelving in the Kitchen - Yay or Nay?

I chatted about this topic a few weeks ago over at Homes.com, but I want to know what your thoughts about open shelving in the kitchen are? Even though the concept has been around for a long time, in the past two years I feel like the open kitchen shelving trend, has really taken off in popularity. Shelving of any kind in a kitchen can be a great way to showcase beautiful dishware and colorful cooking ingredients, as well as additional decor to add fun pops of personality to your space, don't you think?

Not sure if open shelving in a kitchen is for you? Well then take a look at some different styles and creative ideas below, that may have you considering ways to incorporate open kitchen shelving into your home!

Traditional Decorative Corbel Shelving:
Painted or stained wood boards with decorative corbels can be an easy way to add lots of visual interest to your space. This is also the perfect route to go if you need to customize the size of your shelving, because the materials can be cut or placed wherever you need them, to accommodate any measurement.
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Modern Metal shelving:
If your home has a modern feel, or you tend to stay away from traditional or cottage-type looks, then you might consider metal shelving in your kitchen space. You can purchase metal shelving with or without brackets, and instead of letting your actual shelf make a huge decorative statement, the items that you display on them, can become the star of the show.
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Obviously it's easier to plan on exposed kitchen shelving BEFORE you build a house, but if you find yourself still wanting the look and can't find the wall space, think of doing what Erica did. She removed a few of her existing cabinets from her kitchen wall, and DIY'ed up some metal shelving of her own! This is definitely a "Saturday Project", which means that if you have everything you need on hand, you could accomplish this entire task all in one day!

If you're thinking that taking cupboards off the wall is still a little too risky, then you might consider just taking the DOORS off instead. Exposing already existing kitchen cabinet shelving is a super cost effective and simple way to create the look of open kitchen shelving, with minimal work.
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Melissa from The Inspired Room shared how she added a custom touch to her space by simply removing a few kitchen cabinet doors in her home and then creating a display area for all her beautiful white dishes.

Jen, from Tatertots and Jello decided to update her kitchen this year, and in the process also removed cabinet doors from their hinges, to establish a space for unique cake stands and platters that she wanted on display.

If you decide to go the route of removing the doors from your current cabinets and want to punch up your space with even more personality, think about backing the cabinets with molding, mirrors, beadboard, vinyl, stencils or even wrapping paper!

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For those of us who have much smaller kitchens and don't feel that adding shelving is an option, maybe incorporating some extra stand-alone shelving would do the trick!? Finding a space next to the kitchen that can house a fun little cubby system or tall shelving unit, that will not only give you the same feeling of open kitchen shelving, but will also help to create additional storage.
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Decorating Tip for Open Shelving Displays:
Just like any space in your home when items are on display, they need to be cohesive and have an overall theme. Maybe it's the actual items (all appliances, all bowls, all cookbooks etc.) or perhaps it's the fact that everything has the same color scheme. Whatever you decide, keeping the items you're using on your shelves relateable and somewhat unified by a common denominator, is a great way to insure that you have a successful display area.
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So what do you think? Are you anxious to jump on the open shelving bandwagon to find out if it can add a little pop of color or additional space for decor in your kitchen space? Or do you feel that it would cut back on more useful (hide-able) storage, and become just another area to worry about keeping tidy and dust free?

76 comments:

  1. I have some open shelving in my kitchen and I love it! My kitchen was a very strangely planned and layed out kitchen and I had one whole empty wall. I put up shelves and used it for my plates, bowls, cups and glasses. It's pretty!
    http://kamsmomusa.blogspot.com/

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  2. Love your post! Yay to open shelving! hx

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  3. For me, no way would I have open shelving. I have a large mantel over my range and lots of counter surface/large island. I live in the city but find myself dusting all the time. I am not sure where all that dust comes from. Open shelving means constant dusting and having to wash everything before I used it. I prefer cabinets for my dinnerware so it is clean and ready to use.

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  4. Because I have such a shortage of cupboards, I couldn't get away with it. But if my kitchen was larger, I'd totally try. LOVE the look!

    Donna

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  5. I love the look of open shelving, it is gorgeous, but with dust and germs flying around it doesn't seem very practical. Some of the pictures look so great, while others look cluttered and too busy. I am still not convinced. I think that the hutch/ shelf idea it great though, and not so permanent.

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  6. I think open shelving can be nice, but only a small area of it. Such as, above the sink. I like that very much. But when 1/2 or more of your kitchen is open shelving I think it starts to look like there is too much clutter. I think if it's very organized looking and you can keep it that perfect always then it can look nice, but i couldnt keep it perfect always and it would just be an eyesore for me.But it also limits what you can put on the shelves and limits your storage space. That's just me though. I know for me it would be a nice temporary change, but I wouldn't like it for long...just a small section above the sink would be a long term thing I could tolerate. :)

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  7. I'm so happy you wrote this post! I'm planning on taking down cabinets in my kitchen, actually it's a single cabinet to the left of my sink - like Erica's above but mine is one door. Goofy looking lone soldier stuck up on the wall.

    I plan to do exactly what Erica did and add open shelving. I love the look in moderation, or you have to have a pristine kitchen always with everything open. Jen's kitchen is FABULOUS.

    I've always loved your shelves in your nook area and how you seasonally decorate. My house is completely open and not many walls so I miss those touches, but removing a cabinet, which by the way is filled with miss matched coffee cups, gives me the opportunity to make a fun shelving display. I'm already collecting things for the shelves!

    Thanks Shelley - you're a great inspiration in all things decorating and fun.

    ~Chrissy

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  8. I like the look of it but it would drive me bonkers! I am a clean freak and can't stand clutter. And iget sick of my arrangements so fast it would just be another room to re-do every couple months! Ha ha...... So it would probably give me an anurism.

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  9. I love the look of open shelving! It can add great character to the kitchen. I think I like a mixture though...having some space to hide things and then open shelving to display some of your pretty everyday items as well. Makes for easy access too!

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  10. In my house, we don't have air conditioning. The humidity tends to make everything "sticky". I have found that anything that is exposed in our kitchen is a magnet for grease (from cooking), and then dust settles on it, and it is a mess to clean.

    While I like the concept, it isn't practical for us.

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  11. So not me :-) I need all the hiden storage I can get.

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  12. I love the look...especially with the pops of color.

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  13. Beautiful examples!
    We remodeled our kitchen a few months ago and went with some open shelving. We LOVE it! We installed our open shelving over a full wall of subway tile - a very inexpensive solution with a big impact! I linked over to your page in a quick post here http://anexcellentadventure.blogspot.com/2012/06/open-shelving-bandwagon.html

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  14. Wow! These are all amazing inspirations. I LOVE the metal shelving and hadn't thought of that before. Thanks so much for sharing!

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  15. I have open shelving in my minibar- and while I like how it looks- I HATE the dust. My glasses always need cleaning. I can't even imagine how bad my kitchen would get. Sadly, no more open shelves for moi!

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  16. I love open shelving. My kitchen however is not that large and I don't have a cabinet I can spare. I would need to buy all new white dishes probably. And I like it when there's symmetry to the open cabinets, so I for sure need closed cabinets : (

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  17. While the concept looks awesome, it's true, the last thing I need is another shelf to dust on my "to do".

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  18. I think these kitchen displays are beautiful -- and I want them -- but will have to save them for another life when I have a cleaning lady. I do like Jen's kitchen redo option with a few open shelves to display her beautiful cake plates. I want those too.

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  19. We did the simple job of removing some kitchen cabinet doors to get the open shelving look. I LOVE it! Our home is similar to others in our 1970s neighborhood and many of us have the same kitchen layout, but ours has such a different personality from the others now that we have some open shelving.

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  20. Yes to open shelving! We are actually just in the middle of our kitchen reno and tore down a cabinet to make room for shelves. I can't wait until my plates and glasses are on display - the thought of not having to open a door to get a plate is exciting to me (super dork, I know!).

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  21. I have open shelves in my kitchen and love it! It makes the space way more open then it used to be. I love how the shelves are like an art piece of all my stuff.

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  22. Love the look BUT.... very impractical where we live in the dusty, sandy, windy Southwest. Everything would be coated and need to be washed all the time. I can't keep up with wiping down the counters, couldn't imagine shelves full of bowls and dishes.
    I enjoy the pictures and love the look.

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  23. My husband isn't OCD at all, and I totally am. I could NEVER have the because I could always see how he put dishes away. I love the look of them though!

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  24. Dislike!! I dont like it even a little...just dont :)

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  25. Honestly, I don't think it's very realistic for most people. For one thing, have you ever had anything displayed for a while in your kitchen, and then you realize it's covered with a layer of grease and dust? It's not like I'm deep-frying chicken every night, but that's what happens to me! I can't imagine having to continually wash everything I have on display. Also, all of your dishes have to be beautiful--no plastic IKEA cups & plates for the kiddos!

    I'd love to be able to put some glass in a few of my cabinet doors to make a display space, but my kitchen isn't configured well to make that work.

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  26. Nay!!!!! The effort needed to keep everything clean negates the ease of using open shelves. Sally

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  27. NAY! It's just too picture-perfect for the real world. It turns what should be a hard-working part of your kitchen into a for-looks only display gallery.

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  28. I would LOVE open shelving. Not for my entire kitchen but a few decorative pieces would be nice. Our kitchen will be on the smaller size so I feel that it would open it up! It would force me to keep what was originally thrown in my cabinets, nice and neat!

    It is a bit unpractical to have EVERY cabinet open for the world to see. Like Heidi@TheMerryMagpieVintage said, no more plastic cups and plates for the kiddos! Who wants the world to see those? Hehe.

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  29. It looks great until you try and use it functionally...some of the cabinets in my kitchen had no doors on them when we bought the house...I am constantly trying to make it look good and hide the stuff...I would choose no shelves unless you have beautiful things to display

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  30. Love it and have eliminated all our top cupboards in our new kitchen. I don't know why we insist on living with everything closed away like a museum. I think open shelving looks inviting, warm and easy to access. I am not a fan of miles of cupboards and doors, too cold.

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  31. I love the look of it in all the pics you posted, but I would worry that every time I walk in my kitchen, it would feel cluttered to me! Maybe the clear and white dishes in one of the top pics would work. And just not load the shelves down. I am still torn on the open shelves.

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  32. We're redoing our kitchen and we're going to incorporate some open shelving. I'm going to use a little room for display but the majority of stuff on it will be things that we use all the time, hence won't have the chance to get dusty (like my colourful strainers, water pitcher, some plates, cups, bowls which are used every day)
    I just like the convenience of it all!I'm also one of those people who brings the pan of noodles to the sink to strain it and goes 'Ah no, forgot to grab the strainer first"...But then with open shelving by the sink, its just there for a quick grab! Can't wait for the open shelves.

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  33. I adore the look but I think its too impractical for most thing. I would feel like I need to clean everything before I use it for fear of dust or grease splatter. I think depends on how large your kitchen is though. Mine is so small i have some grease splatter on everything and I live in a very dusty area. I used to live in a house that had a large breakfast nook and I had a large open shelving unit i displayed apothecary jars of dried goods, mixing bowls and my collection of mortar and pestles. Shelving for things you don't use a lot, like collectables (mortar and pestles, tea cups, tea pots, whatever fancies you) I think is great, but for every day items like plates and glasses I would feel its too dirty. but that's me.

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  34. I really do love the look of open shelving! I was excited when we moved into our new home to find glass fronts on two of our cabinets. I quickly grew to dislike them though. Over the years I have collected a hodge podge of dishes. While I would normally say that would be cute to display, my hodge podge is not the cute kind. I don't like having my dishes on display (especially when other people put the dishes away and put the plastic outdoor cups in the glass door cabinet with my beautiful nice dishes.)

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  35. I really do love the look of open shelving! I was excited when we moved into our new home to find glass fronts on two of our cabinets. I quickly grew to dislike them though. Over the years I have collected a hodge podge of dishes. While I would normally say that would be cute to display, my hodge podge is not the cute kind. I don't like having my dishes on display (especially when other people put the dishes away and put the plastic outdoor cups in the glass door cabinet with my beautiful nice dishes.)

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  36. I LOVE the look, LOVE it! :) I think if you aren't sure of taking such a big step, removing the cabinet doors for a few weeks and living with that is a great way to start! I think thats the only way I will get my husband to by in to my grand plan!

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  37. I don't care for the full on open shelving look. A mix of cabinets and display shelving is alright but it's still not my fave. I hate a cluttered look and sometimes open shelvings just give me that cluttered vibe.

    xoxo,
    Melissa

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  38. I live in a house built in 1934. There were only two large cabinets that were on either side of my sink. Took them off. I am tidy when arranging my cups and plates just so. So it works for me. Now I just need to think about backing them as Jen did.
    Brenda

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  39. Love the look of all of them, but ... in my opinion, it's another thing to clean! Maybe I'm just too practical.

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  40. Love the look, but really ... just another thing to keep clean! I guess I'm just too practical.

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  41. I second head 2 Toe's comments:)

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  42. although it looks great, it's another area I have to worry about staging =T which I'm already terrible at!

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  43. I say YAY! in a magazine or blog photo, but NAY! in my real life. It makes me feel overwhelmed to have dishes staring at me all the time and besides, my dog (who wasn't supposed to shed) sheds and that would make me nuts to have to wash the dinner dishes BEFORE dinner! LOL

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  44. Hi my friend!!

    Thanks for linking to my kitchen makeover. What a fun surprise!!! I hope you are having a great week. Love you!

    xxoxoxo

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  45. Oh one other thing I was going to mention, is when I did my kitchen remodel I painted the cupboard doors that I now have as open shelves. That way when I get tired of the open shelves I can just pop those doors back on if I want.

    Great post!!

    xoxxo

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  46. I wish I had more space in my kitchen for open shelves. I love them! Great inspiration pictures.

    Shasta @InTheOldRoad

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  47. It would drive me nuts. Creatively, it is very stimulating but I have this thing called a "Husband" who lives with me and everytime he puts dishes away, he finds new homes for everything... He would irritate me to no end!!! People do a great job styling them and they're super adorable, but I just couldn't do it!

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  48. I couldn't do it! I think the open shelving thing is super adorable and creatively very stimulating, but I have this thing called a "husband" who I live with and I'm pretty dang sure he would drive me crazy if we had open shelving. Everytime he empties the dishwasher he finds new homes for everything... I predict poorly stacked bowls, mis-matched glasses and strainers shoved somewhere clever... I think people style them beautifly... I just know it wouldn't work for me!

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  49. Looks nice in magazines but unless you have an extremely large kitchen with plenty of space for "display", a maid who will dust weekly for you and kids that have grown up and "left the nest" ... I'd say no, don't do it.

    For home (resale) value ... we just spent a year looking to buy a new home and I refused to buy any home that had recently renovated a kitchen with either open shelving or glass doors. It would be too difficult and expensive to add new cabinets/doors.

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  50. Athough the pictures are beautiful, it wouldn't be practical in my tiny kitchen...there are just too many things that need to be crammed into the few cupboards I have...I would also hate keeping them clean and dusted.

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  51. Great post! I don't want to have to keep that dust/grease free in my kitchen, but it really looks nice.

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  52. I say YAY!!! LOVE open shelving. Esp the clean white, simple versions.

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  53. I love the look of open shelving! We're planning on doing it in our kitchen someday - we have one lone upper cabinet that looks a little ridiculous, and we want to get rid of it!

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  54. My hubby is taking a week long "staycation" so that we can do open shelving in our kitchen. We had it in the last house and LOVED it....so missing it now....soon to be fixed ; o)

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  55. I love the idea of open shelving... but in our kitchen, the upper shelves are really all our storage. We don't have matching plates and we have tons of rubbermaid and pyrex in our cabinets. I love the look of floating shelves though. I may, one day, get brave enough to remove the lone cabinet that holds our coffee cups and glasses and replace it with floating shelves. Look out world!

    Thanks for the droolworthy pictures. I love seeing gorgeously set up rooms. Mine feel like they're never going to get there! :D

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  56. I love open shelving. I really want to try it in my kitchen but my cat likes to climb in so it night not work for my house.

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  57. I love open shelving. I actually asked my husband the other day if we could take down 2 wall cabinets and put up shelves in their place. He was not fond of the idea so it's a no go. I do wonder though if I just take off the doors if he would notice...

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  58. Yay FOR SURE! I LOVE the look of open shelving. I wish I had the wall space to do some open shelves in my kitchen. I'm contemplating the idea of using my existing cabinets but then I'll have to make them all cute inside lol. That would be a shame ;)

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  59. I LOVE my open shelves! Everyday plates, glasses and bowls are within easy reach and my kitchen seems so much bigger with less bulky cabinets.

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  60. I LOVE my open shelves! Everyday plates, glasses, and bowls are in easy reach and my kitchen seems so much bigger with less bulky cabinets.

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  61. We did the cabinet removal thing in out kitchen in favor of open shelves (it was a before-blogging project, but you can see before and after here- http://designingdawn.com/around-the-house-cup-hooks/) and we absolutely love it. It is easy to just grab plates down when we need them and put them away right out of the washer. Plus it looks so much more open and really frees up our kitchen to the adjoining living room. We did keep the cabinet just in case we changed our mind, but it's been re purposed as basement storage and I'm sure it will never see the kitchen again.

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  62. I like to hide my dishes. Not a big fan of open shelving!

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  63. A TOTALLY BIG, HUGE YAY for open shelving. I took doors off shelves on one side of my kitchen and haven't stopped thinking about doing the same on the opposite side. Thank you for all the great photo inspiration, I never thought to just take doors off one cabinet while keeping doors on the adjacent ones... hmmm, you're getting my wheels turning!!
    http://applesforolive.wordpress.com/2011/02/18/less-is-more-quick-change/

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  64. It looks nice but would be really impractical for us. Too much open space to keep organized and all the stuff would get that greasy kitchen coating over time. I prefer my kitchen stuff clean and behind cupboard doors :)

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  65. Open shelving looks great. It adds more appeal as decoration for the kitchen like the pictures with blue and yellow cups for open shelving.
    But if someone prefer to hide those cups and have no space for open shelving i suggest to add chrome pull out system on their kitchen.

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  66. I just simply took off a few doors on my cabinets and voila! I love it. I have to straighten them often, no one else can seem to figure out how exactly to put the glasses in a row. But I really do love it. since we use what is in them so often I haven't noticed a lot of dust. Go for it Shelly!

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  67. YAY! for sure... i think its such a great trend! Displaying all your beautiful dishes with different colors, totally a great idea!

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  68. I freaking love open shelves. Every kitchen I pin on my "when I renovate our kitchen in a couple years" board has open shelves and I just have no words for how much I love and want them.

    1: I'm lazy and don't want to open and close cabinet doors.
    2: I think they bring such openness into a kitchen.
    3: Almost all of my dishes are Fiestaware and I want to show them off and be able to look at them whenever I want (without opening and closing a door...or looking in a dirty sink)!

    Gamechanger: my husband hasn't warmed up to them yet. Good thing we have a 2 year timeframe to change his mind!!

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  69. I have open shelves, so I love that you and YoungHouseLove also like them, cause now I feel I'm cool! See, I have such a dark loft apartment, it's sort of the only thing that would work - I have glass shelves over the bench/sink. If I had cupboards, I'd lose storage space. I love it! (save for the top shelf which gets less use therefore more dusty!) And cause I bought and then 'stocked' (coming from living with parents) I ensured I had a theme (as per your tips) and everything is white or royal blue! It's lovely (initially some other 'nice' stuff not in colour theme was up there... stressed me out, didn't look right... they are GONE!)

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  70. I ripped down all of my upper cabinets and installed open shelving. Here's my rebuttal.

    I live in Queen Creek Arizona which is like haboob central. Dust and dirt everywhere. My dishes don't get dusty or dirty because I actually use them so they're washed almost every day. It's not like your dishes are going to sit there for 3 months without getting used. If so, you should probably get rid of those dishes anyways and then you'll have all the clutter free space you want. There's no reason why you can't use dishes that are pretty and functional.

    I think everyone is forgetting that people still have closed lower cabinets. I have like 12 lower cabinets where I keep all of the unsightly ikea plates and kids cups, and ugly pans that I don't want to show. I also have 4 kids who are still at home and they haven't once climbed the counter and broken anything. In fact, it made their dishes more accessible to them.

    I have to dust the shelves in my kitchen as often as I dust all the other stuff in my house (maybe once every three months) All I know is that before I basically lived in a cave and ripping out my uppers, adding beadboard, and installing open shelves was the best move I've made. It opened up the space and made my great room so much brighter. See for yourself...

    http://granddesignco.blogspot.com/2012/03/open-shelving-for-kitchen.html

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  71. I have been toying over this decision for months (literally)! My kitchen is terrible with a capital T! It is a product of a bad flip that we ended up having to move into til we can actually finish it and sell it later. There are almost "ZERO" cabinets for anything. I really love the look of open shelving, especially exposing monochromatic dishware. I wanted to remove the cabinets and just do completely open shelving, BUT my decision is not to do it. WHY? Well because I know that we will want to sell this home (if the market allows) within the next few years and it would really limit it's appeal to buyers. You either love or hate open shelving. You either "get it" or you just don't! I'm bummed about it but confident that it WILL be in my next kitchen!!!

    OH...and you ROCK by the way!

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  72. I happen to be a bit of a perfectionist and so if all the cupboard doors can be closed and hide away the not so perfect looking inside and look perfectr on the outside my life stays happy so for me I could not do the open shelving concept although I LOVE the look! It is something you coudl totally pull off for sure!

    Julia

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  73. I love this look and maybe not for all my cabinetry but at least some of my more "decorative" dishes. Love me some pretty things to look at!

    {Ami}

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  74. There are many reasons to have a display case in your home. The most important reason is to show off your collectibles.

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  75. These display cases really show off your incredibly beautiful dishes.

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  76. i had a neighbor who is a builder make me 2 custom shelves for my kitchen. The look like the middle shelves in your first picture. I painted them white and they are FABULOUS! I show my clear glass dishes and some nice cookbooks on them as well as a stone chicken statue....I will be having more made for my new house....when I get around to building it.

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