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Pros and Cons of Open Shelves in Kitchens

In recent years, homeowners have opted to replace their kitchen cabinets for open shelves. When done correctly, open shelving can complement all styles of kitchens, whether they are rustic, modern, or more traditional and give your kitchen a fresh, open feel. While trendy, there can be some drawbacks to ditching traditional kitchen cabinets. So, would switching to open shelves be the right move for you?

PROS of Open Shelving:

  • It’s convenient to grab those frequently used items directly off the shelf and your guests can easily locate any dinnerware they may need without your direction. ​

  • Open shelving also gives you the chance to show off dinnerware or chinaware and provides an opportunity to give the room more personality.

  • Without bulky cabinets, the room feels more open and light. Additionally, you get a chance to display more of your backsplash.

  • ​Save money and time when renovating your kitchen since shelves are less expensive than cabinets and if you’re particularly handy, you can install them yourself.

CONS of Open Shelving:

  • You will most likely be doing more dishes since they are exposed to dust and oil (especially those that are near the stove-top). ​

  • Being minimalistic and tidy is necessary, otherwise the kitchen will look too busy and you will lose the open feeling you were going for.

  • Plasticware, kids’ dishes, and Tupperware sitting out can make the kitchen look sloppy. If they aren’t properly done, the shelves can look cheap and are subject to warp with age.


  • Try glass cabinet doors or completely remove the cabinet doors if you want to try open shelving before committing to the renovation.

  • ​Declutter! Display matching sets and use glass containers for dry foods to avoid a grocery store feel. You can use some wire or wicker baskets, too, for the messier kitchen items.

  • Use sturdy, quality materials to avoid sagging. Ideally, use the same one or two materials to create cohesion.

  • ​Why pick open shelves or kitchen cabinets? Integrate both if you are still on the fence and enjoy the best of each.

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