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Our favorite open kitchen shelving ideas

Floating kitchen shelves have been popular for years and if the current trends are any indication of where things are headed, they’re not going anywhere fast.

It seems people are either on team open shelving or not, but for those of you who like the idea of open kitchen shelving, this post is for you.

9 beautiful open kitchen shelving ideas

Browse these inspiration photos to help you decide which kitchen shelving ideas are best suited for your kitchen and space.

Kitchen shelving for decorative purposes

kitchen with open shelving

This first kitchen just kind of dips its toes in the open shelving waters, but nonetheless, the shelves here work to break up a large wall of cabinetry and provide opportunities to bring in personality through decorating. In a large kitchen with many cabinets and drawers, you can afford to steal some space like this to accessorize!

White floating kitchen shelves

kitchen with floating shelves

It would be hard for anything to look bad with a kitchen full of pretty navy blue hues and shiplap, but this open shelving instead of a lot of heavy cabinetry is really beautiful here.

Wooden floating kitchen shelves

kitchen with wooden floating shelves

Rather than opting for more upper cabinetry, this kitchen used floating shelves to give some personality to the space. This would be an idea spot for a coffee bar, as you could easily store coffee mugs and accessories on these open shelves.

Open shelving flanking range hood

This kitchen incorporates two big trends, shelving flanking the range hood and no upper cabinetry whatsoever. I have mixed feelings about open shelving around the range, as I just feel it would be a challenge to keep whatever you have displayed on the shelves clean.

We considered this option for our kitchen renovation and most people said to store items on shelves close to your range that you would frequently use, so bowls and plates would be great here.

Corner kitchen shelving

If you’ve ever planned your own kitchen renovation, you know just how difficult corners can be in kitchens, and open shelving is frequently used to get around these awkward intersections.

Shelving to break up large cabinetry sections

Another great place for open shelving in a kitchen. Kitchens with a lot of cabinetry can sometimes look too heavy, and adding shelving over additional cabinets is rarely a bad move. In this case, the open shelving is a great way to display pretty serving dishes.

Glass open shelving

Sometimes stained wood or glass shelving doesn’t go with the overall aesthetic and in that case, glass shelving might be something to consider. I do think you’d have to be a meticulous cook to have glass this close to a stove, though.

Shelving instead of upper cabinetry

In this smaller kitchen, upper cabinetry is completely eliminated in favor of a more light and airy look thanks to open shelving. If you want to go this route, I would really spend time thinking through where you would store things that would typically go in cabinetry, as you really have to keep open shelving clean and fairly tidy for it to look good.

One single shelf

The use of just a single shelf is rising in popularity over the last few years. Here, the single shelf works to store cookbooks in a less used part of the kitchen where too many upper cabinets wouldn’t make sense.

Commonly asked questions about kitchens with floating shelves

From basic functionality questions to more nitty gritty details, I’m now turning over to Daniel to give you the best guidance on all things kitchen shelves.

Is open kitchen shelving practical?

Open kitchen shelving can be very practical, depending on how you use it, but it can also serve purely for decoration purposes. I’m a huge fan of removing bulky upper cabinetry in a smaller kitchen and replacing with open shelves, as I love how it really works to open up a smaller space. I also like kitchen shelving to solve the infamous corner quandary without cabinets that won’t really serve a huge purpose.

How much does open shelving cost?

Painted open shelving material will cost less than stained material because you can use almost any material you want to in painted applications. Stained shelving costs will vary based on materials used. If using a prefabricated faux wood shelf for example, you’ll spend a lot less than you wood using a solid piece of walnut. Finishing natural wood with stains and/or polyurethanes typically costs around 30 percent more than simply priming and painting the same material.

How deep should open shelving be?

Upper cabinets tend to be 12″ deep, so your open shelving needs to be slightly pulled back from this depth to create a contrast. We recommend anywhere from 7″ to 10″ shelves when installed next to standard 12″ upper cabinets. If you don’t have any uppers, you can get away with a deeper shelf. Just remember that the deeper your shelf, the larger the shadow it will cast on the items or surfaces below it.

How much weight will floating shelves hold?

Open shelves can hold anywhere from 25 pounds to hundreds of pounds if installed correctly and in the right application. An open shelf that doesn’t border any other surface on either side is typically going to hold far less weight than a shelf that ends into a cabinet or into a corner. When a shelf can be anchored through the side of a cabinet or tied into a wall corner, it exponentially increases its load capacity.

Do floating shelves need studs?

Unless they are only holding around 10 pounds, then floating shelves absolutely need to be installed into the studs for support. Using drywall to hold small amounts of weight like toilet paper holders or even hand towel holders can work well if installed using the correct anchors (most anchors that come with the hardware from the manufacturer are terrible and fail within a year), but anything remotely weighty needs solid wood for anchoring.

Looking for other kitchen reno help? Find out what I recommend as the best white cabinet paint color, my favorite white quartz options, kitchen backsplash ideas with white cabinets, plus everything you wanted to know about hanging pendants over an island.

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