Friday, July 15, 2011

Kitchen Cabinets vs. Open Shelves and the Art of Display

The doors are open to this cupboard in my kitchen because I'm trying to get a feel for what it would look like without the doors. Just open shelving... this.
I saw this kitchen on a recent kitchen tour and fell in love! It was in an old house, like mine and I could tell how it had evolved without a major remodel. It looked like the doors were removed from the cabinets creating a cottage look.

Cote de Texas
I have also been in love with Sally Wheat's kitchen because of the open shelving.
I like how she displays her dishes; decorative items above and everyday dishes easily accessible below. If there were doors on the cabinets, it would be, well boring.

Another favorite kitchen with artfully displayed cookbooks and dishes.

It would certainly save a lot of money to eliminate upper cabinets if you were doing a kitchen remodel. Open shelving is not expensive to do.

It's not that hard to attach brackets to a wall and add shelves. Talk about "bang for your buck!"

Skona Hem
Love these shelves with iron brackets. And of course, the wonderful white ironstone.
Oh, be still my heart!

Apartment Therapy
I know, I know, way over the top! I threw this in to get your attention.
Still, it speaks to me!

Skona Hem
Keeping it simple, this open cabinet is more decorative with the lovely combination of ironstone, wicker and mercury glass.

Same with this shelf. Jadite and vintage tartan thermos bottles make for a unique display.

Both decorative and functional, this open shelving is casually, yet beautifully displayed.
Adding the paintings gives it texture and color.

This open shelving is a great way to display a collection of ironstone bowls.

But maybe open shelving isn't for you. What if you could have the best of both worlds and have open shelving in a walk-in pantry like Suzanne Kasler's.

My friend Lisa's open shelving is also in her walk-in pantry.

Another cool walk-in pantry, just off the kitchen. This would be so ideal.

Perhaps a more traditional display cabinet is your choice.

There is still the opportunity to display your dishes, except behind closed doors, keeping the dust out.

Which is a good thing when your house is in the country.
This is my kitchen cupboard in Asti. It provides a great place to show off my favorite pieces and stores all the glasses too.

Cote Ouest
Chicken wire doors are another option if you're not comfortable with open shelving.

House Beautiful
I like the juxtaposition of rustic chicken wire with the fine china inside.

Atlanta Home
Or, if you want to hide your dishes, solid cabinet doors are for you!

My kitchen at home was remodeled in the early 90's when the "unfitted" kitchen was just coming in to vogue. Hence, the unmatched cabinets.
I'm threatening to either take off the doors or take out the cabinets and put up open shelves.
Of course I won't do it, but seeing all the kitchens out there in magazines and blogland with open shelves does give me ideas!

I can't help but be inspired by kitchens like Kelley's from Polished Pebble, which is one of my favorites.

What is your preference?
Would you be brave enough to have open shelving in your kitchen?

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Lauren@BaylorSays... said...

I am LOVING this post!!! I just had a flicker of thought this week that I could take my doors off my cabinets to just see what it would look like since I can't redo the whole thing for a few years. I might just be brave!

Do you think it's okay even though I have the ugly adjustable shelf holes inside??

So glad I found your lovely blog!

Marty@A Stroll Thru Life said...

Personally, I really like our kitchen with the glass doors. I think it shows off the pretty dishes and yet makes them look even prettier than on totally open shelves. Just my opinion. Hugs, Marty

deb said...

Love the look, but the dust would kill me... I have a stainless steel island cart with open shelves. I store my blender, food processor, etc. on the open shelves and have to dust them. I do it, but it's not my favorite!!

Kathysue said...

Sure why not!!! I already have glass doors so the cupboards store dishes and glasses that always stay neat and tidy. I like the idea and the casual feel. I can totally see your sink flanked with shelves!!! Another day another project, we never stop do we?!!! xo Kathysue

Anonymous said...

Hi Delores,
Love your style. I too, am drawn to the open look, but, (favorite fantasy kitchen has no upper cabinets or shelves, just lots of windows) Living in earthquake country, I just can't see having glass things in open cabinets or shelves, no matter how much I love the look :(

Kim @ Savvy Southern Style said...

I would if I could. Love the look of open shelving.

Love Of Quilts said...

Love the idea for displaying Items...all the extra dusting makes me want glass doors. Trish

Marlis said...

Lucky for me I don't have to make that decision.. we live in the west and it's dry here and because it's dry we have been known to have a bit of dust.. so doors doors doors, but I prefer glass insets.. I even like to see food items lined up behind the glass doors..

Scribbler said...

I have done this -- when it came time to sell my last house, it was a problem because so many people want an ordinary looking kitchen. "Where're the doors?" they all wanted to know. I actually had to come off my price a little so that the buyers would have an "allowance" to get cabinet doors.

I really liked it, but things do get a big dusty, unless they are the things that are in constant rotation.

I have always wanted a kitchen without any cabinets at all, just furniture. Right now I am trying to salvage the cabinets in the house I bought 4 years ago, and they are turning out pretty well. But because of the greasy/dusty factor, I kept the doors.

This was a great collection of eye candy! Thanks for sharing.

Rose H (UK) said...

Open shelving looks good but is HIGH maintenence! I'm too practical I'm afraid, but think glass fronted cabinets are the best choices as you can still see the goodies but dust is cut to a minimum.

Babs said...

Open shelving is certainly nice for displaying special pieces, but I'll take cupboard doors any day to hide cooking supplies and to give the kitchen a less busy look.

Elizabeth@ Pine Cones and Acorns said...

Open shelving is beautiful, I love the kitchen with the iron brackets. That is my favorite. I have an ope shelf bookcase and glass cabinets. The glass cabinets definitely keep the dust out.

NanaDiana said...

We had open shelving in one of our old houses...I took the doors off and painted the insides a glossy white and I loved it. When we got ready to sell the house though I put the doors back on. I just did the one wall that the sink was on. The only problem I had was that we had a cat. She had NEVER climbed on the kitchen counters the whole time we had her....when we took the doors off she would jump up into the one open shelf and push the things aside to lay drove me nuts!;>)

I really LOVE the fabric on the skirted sink that you have posted....xo Diana

Donna, The Decorated House said...

Even though I have admired lots of the pictures that you found, I am not crazy about open shelves. Of course older homes breathe and have more dust, they say.
I really love the look of glass better and you can see or display your items but the dust stays out.
Thanks for stopping by to see the potting bench all done.
Happy Weekend~

Pinky at Designs by Pinky said...

Since my hubby retired and has gotten into cooking (AKA, making a bIG MESS) then I couldn't do open shelving. It would be a mess! I would LOOOOOVE though, to have a BIG walk in pantry with open shelving to store all of my MANY dishes and glassware!!!!!!!!!!! THAT is MY dream! XO, Pinky Love your cabinet in Asti!

Carol S. said...

Delores, it's summer and you just want to let it all hang out! From the fridge to the shelves, you've just gotta be free! LOL. I do have one open shelf that was a cheesy lattice type wine rack that I turned into a three shelf open cabinet. More for display than function. I think your kitchen is pretty timeless and gorgeous but I understand trying something new.

This is out of left field, but we just watch the spoof movie Airplane with our 17 and 12 yr old sons, and I commented, oh my, the above bin shelves on the airplane were shown wide open in 1980? Was it really like that back then, bags and coats just set up on a shelf on the plane like they showed in the movie?? Have a fab weekend, love your blog and eye candy!

Antique Style said...

I love the open shelves with the brackets. However I bow to the practicality of glass....can you place chicken wire behind the glass?

What about doing something different to give yourself a freshened look..paint something, the inside of the cabinets a wonderful color?

I opted for some open shelves in my latest kitchenette project...need some ironstone for those shelves after seeing your wonderful post!

Tamra said...

I've had open shelves in my kitchen for 15 years. I did it before it was in fashion and everyone told me I'd hate it.

LOL 15 years later it's all rage! The key is consistancy. I use all white and it works well for me. It easy to get dishes, to put them away and it's fun to rearange.

Your doors? Take 'em off baby, you'll love it. You can always put them back on.


I live in a lovely old Victorian home and I have a built in china cabinet which at some point in time had its glass doors removed, leaving me with an open cabinet. I HATE IT! You cannot even imagine how dusty everything gets. I love the look of the open cabinet kitchen, but I must say emphatically that I would not do it! I don't have the time to dust every cupboard every week and seriously, unless you have that kind of time or a housekeeper who you can pay to do it, you won't like it. Some things are worth the effort, some are not. I guess it comes down to what you can live with on a daily basis. At least if you try it by taking your doors off, you can always replace them if the dust problem gets to be too much.

Good luck with your decision,

Burlap Luxe said...

Delore, your kitchen is fabulous!! No need to tear out the cabinets...I do love the apartment therapy kitchen best, but the cote quets is also one to love in every way possible!

I find that some times the less design work that goes into a space it just seams to beckon us in to look closer at its imperfect beauty!

Your kitchen has nothing to worry about it is so fiiting to the rest of your beautiful home. It reminds me of a JACK ARNOLD home!!

Sweet kitchen dreams
Come visit my sweet little place That speack French, while looking into a central beach move!

Room Service ~ Decorating 101 said...

I think open shelves on the left side of the window would look great. Just keep the doors! P.S. I think your kitchen is much prettier than the first photo that you fell in love with. 5*

Decor To Adore said...

What fantastic inspiration! Thank you for sharing.

Lori E said...

When we do the kitchen in our cabin I am pretty sure my husband is going for open cabinets for the top.
It is very dusty up there though and I think it is huge mistake for him. I guess he can always add doors later when he realizes his lovely, brilliant wife is always right.
I really, really love the chicken wire cabinet but I am all country style.

Anonymous said...

Open shelves is not really about being brave, its about 1. Dust 2. Blank spots/ How shelves look when you are using items from the shelves and 3. Keeping them orderly (husbands,children/maids, etc.) I did this look over 10 years ago because I have always liked it, but I tired of it because the look never justified effort. Now that it is such a trend, definately wouldnt want it Glass doors (lighted cabinets)are the better long term option / trade off / best of both worlds.

Anonymous said...

I love the look, but open shelves are not practical for me (too much dust). We chose a mix of glass and wood fronts on our cabinets. I'm so pleased with that decision.

home before dark said...

I have always had open shelving in my kitchens. As we prepare for the redo, I am using a long wall of chrome metro shelving. Things get dusty—and often musty—in cabinets. I prefer things out where I can see them. With my husband retiring in three years, I think the out in the open will be a better "training" tool. Sigh....

Sheila said...

Pleasedon't take the doors off your cabinets. They are so beautiful just as they are. We can't follow every single trend that rears it's head. Put up a shelf with brackets somewhere to get it out of your system and call it a day.

lesapeamusings.blogspot said...

I love open shelves, that's what I have in my country kitchen.

Lisa xx

The enchanted home said...

Fantastic post. I do love the look but think its best reserved for magazines. In addition to having to upkeep them to always look neat and tidy they are really more decorative than functioning as real storage space, and the dust, oh the dust would make me crazy!!! I dont' and wouldn't mind a small area of open shelving but to have most of the kitchen with it for me at least would not be a practical solution though there are many gorgeous kitchens with it!
I think the bottom line is it depends how you use your kitchen and if "that look" will work for you or not.

The Tablescaper said...

So fun, but I don't want to always be concerned with how it all looks. Sometimes, it's just got to be functional. A little bit of it would be great, but I don't think I could have an entire kitchen of it.

- The Tablescaper

Sarah said...

Delores, I love the look, but open shelves in the kitchen are difficult to keep clean, especially ones near a stove top. We also have lots of dust here. I like glass doors on the kitchen cabinets, but would love a walk in pantry like the one with the sliding door. Open shelves in a pantry ~ yes! Great inspiration photos. You have a wonderful kitchen space with which to work. ~ Sarah

Theresa Strickland said...

Delores I love the idea for a central wall in the kitchen. I wouldn't do it everywhere. There is a great deal of upkeep of open shelving. Picking a single color theme for that open wall would be a wonderful way to update your kitchen through out the seasons. Give it a go you can always put the doors back on.

debbiecz said...

Despite my love for many of the kitchens I have to admit my first reaction was to think about cleaning all those dishes on the open shelves. I have a mix of open & closed cabinets and dread cleaning the items. My dream cabinet wall would be apprx. 14" deep, adjustable shelves, glass on majority of doors but a full wall so I can access every dish, pan & glass in a moment.

VICTORIA said...

Super in-Love with all your post!Gosh, you are So inspiring!anyway, I'll for closed shelves with mix of woods and glass!Above all are Gorgeousthanks for sharing!

A room with a view said...

I love open shelving..under-utilized functional space which can easily be decorative..forces one to display some semblance of organization. Great post! New follower!

MimiG said...

I love open shelves - I don't dust. However, once every few weeks or so, all the dishes go through the dishwasher. Everything shiny and clean with almost no work! ;-)

Anonymous said...

What a great post, it's a keeper. I've linked this to my open shelving post as well today, for inspiration.

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