How to Arrange Your Open Kitchen Cabinets

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Open shelving is an inexpensive kitchen storage option with big rewards, if the arrangement on the shelves is done right. Follow these tips to produce order and beauty on open kitchen cabinets and not cause a visual disaster.

Pair Practicality with Aesthetics

Reaching a balance between functional and ornamental is fairly easy if you stick to storing commonly-used items like glasses, bowls, mugs and plates on your open kitchen cabinet shelves. Groups of clear glassware, even if they are not all alike, are equally accessible and striking. Not only will your table setting and dish storing chores go faster, no guest will ever have to ask where the drinking glasses are ever again. That type of at-your-fingertips storage is very appealing to busy people and to those who love casual entertaining. While dishes alone can be nice to look at, you can do so much more with your kitchen cabinet space. Survey your kitchen inventory and choose items you reach for frequently that are also display worthy. Many kitchen gadgets are decorative, like a stone mortar and pestle and a French press.
Aran Cucine Lab 13 Collection
Aran Cucine Lab 13 Collection

“But my dishes don’t match!”

There is no denying that all white dishes on open cabinets are simply elegant. While you don’t have to buy a new set of dishes, some careful editing will help if you strive for unity. Unity doesn’t have to be all-white dishes. Unity can be dishes that are different shades of yellow, or a mix and match of complimentary colors. If your kitchen is all white, black and white, or some other monochromatic or neutral palette, you will find more freedom in displaying multiple colors. Experiment with different arrangements of what you have. Don’t feel obligated to display all of your dishes. In fact, you don’t have to display your dishes at all if you don’t want to – store them in drawers or cabinets closest to your dining room table instead, and display other practical, visually pleasing items, like mixing bowls, a serving tray, mugs or barware. Like all rules, there are always exceptions. A riot of colors can work, depending on the setting (though it might takes an artist’s eye to pull it off). You may even prefer an ultra-casual, approachable shelf arrangement that includes your favorite mug, coffee-stains and all. Personal, casual touches make open shelving endearing and gives your kitchen a sense of being lived-in. It’s your kitchen, you set the tone. In general, though, it is easier to pull off an uncluttered, spacious feel in a kitchen if the shelf items are cohesive. A monochromatic theme and groups of identical or similar items help achieve this aesthetic.
Aran Cucine Bilma Evo Collection
Aran Cucine Bilma Evo Collection

Mix in Some Display-Worthy Storage

Open shelves beg for containers. Invest in canisters, tins, baskets and jars that work together and suit your theme, and your open shelves will practically arrange themselves. A few containers mixed in with groups of dishes will provide proportion to the arrangement. Containers also add the advantage of hidden storage – something you lose if you do not have actual cabinet doors. Storage may not be a major concern if you have a luxuriously large kitchen with a full pantry, but those with small kitchens who choose open shelving to make the room look larger will need to be creative about storage options. Containers to the rescue! Before you shop for containers, decide what you might store in them (flour, sugar, beans, pastas, cookies, a cookie cutter collection, spices) and whether you want the contents to be seen. Clear glass is unifying while allowing the stored goods to add subtle texture or color to the room. Not to mention, you’ll be able to identify ingredients immediately and grab them quickly when you need them. You can choose several containers of the same type or several container types that work well together. Containers are everywhere, many of which are inexpensive. Scout discount department stores and thrift stores for deals – just check to make sure containers are food-safe before storing edibles. With a little spray paint and homemade labels, you can repurpose glass jars for storage displays also. Spray the metal lid with non-toxic black or white paint, and if you like, print out a label and attach it to the front of the jar with craft glue.
Aran Cucine Ylenia Collection
Aran Cucine Ylenia Collection

Save the Top Shelf for Display

That top, hard-to-reach shelf has no better purpose than to display a collection. The top shelf is also the perfect excuse to start the collection you’ve always wanted. Whether it is white cake platters, a set of copper pots, or rows of canned veggies in Mason jars, your collection adds a personal finishing touch to your open shelving.

A Word about Dust and Grime

A film of greasy dust is one of the major concerns homeowners have about open cabinets in the kitchen. Under normal circumstances, dust is not a major issue if you frequently use the items you place on your shelves. You can also solve part of the problem if you store glasses, stemware and mugs upside down. Of greater concern will be grease residue that comes from frequent frying on the stove. An efficient vent hood will help control the grime. If you really like the ability to decorate with kitchenware, but the idea of the dust and grease makes you shiver, consider using glass-front cabinets, giving you nearly the same effect. However, if you really love the look of open shelves, the small amount of extra cleaning will be well worth it. Or you can have a blend of having open cabinets, glass-front cabinets and fully closed cabinets for a modern look. Achieving just the right balance for open shelves in the kitchen is simple. Just like anything else, you can occasionally rearrange to improve style and order, especially during the changing seasons. Displaying pumpkins for Fall is a perfect example and imagine how beautiful and inviting your kitchen will be during wintertime when your guests walk in to find ornaments and holiday tins displayed. Open shelving immediately brightens up your space as is quite possibly the easiest and most cost-effective kitchen makeover you can do. Plus it’ll be fun filling up your open shelves with beautiful things to display.