What To Put On Open Shelves In Kitchen

Home » Kitchen » What To Put On Open Shelves In Kitchen

What to put on open shelves in kitchen sets the stage for this enthralling narrative, offering readers a glimpse into a story that is rich in detail and brimming with originality from the outset.

Open shelves in the kitchen provide a unique opportunity to showcase your personality, maximize storage space, and create a visually appealing focal point. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the art of styling open shelves, exploring functional items, decorative elements, storage solutions, vertical utilization, lighting and display, and personalization techniques to help you create a kitchen that is both stylish and efficient.

Functional Items

What to put on open shelves in kitchen

In a bustling kitchen, where efficiency is paramount, the strategic placement of essential tools and appliances within arm’s reach can significantly enhance your culinary experience. Open shelves provide the perfect platform to showcase these frequently used items, ensuring they are always at your fingertips.

From sharp knives and versatile spatulas to precise measuring cups and spoons, a well-curated selection of kitchen tools should be readily accessible. Vertical organization, utilizing shelves with multiple tiers, maximizes space while keeping items visible and easy to grab. Alternatively, horizontal organization, employing pull-out drawers or sliding shelves, provides a more compact solution, allowing you to access tools from the front without disrupting the arrangement.

Vertical Organization

Vertical organization takes advantage of the height of your shelves, creating more storage space. By utilizing stackable containers, tiered shelves, or hanging racks, you can store items vertically, making them easy to spot and retrieve. This method is particularly useful for tall items such as bottles, jars, and cookware.

Horizontal Organization, What to put on open shelves in kitchen

Horizontal organization, on the other hand, utilizes the width of your shelves. This method is ideal for storing items that are frequently used together, such as spices, utensils, or cutting boards. By placing these items side by side, you can quickly grab what you need without having to search through multiple shelves.

Decorative Elements

Open shelves provide a unique opportunity to showcase decorative items that add personality and style to the kitchen. By carefully curating a selection of plants, cookbooks, and artwork, you can create a visually appealing display that complements your kitchen’s overall design.


Plants bring a touch of nature indoors, adding life and freshness to the kitchen. Choose plants that are tolerant of the kitchen’s environment, such as herbs, succulents, or air plants. Arrange them in different sizes and shapes to create a dynamic display.


Cookbooks are both functional and decorative. Display your favorite cookbooks on open shelves to add a touch of culinary inspiration. Choose cookbooks with covers that complement the kitchen’s color scheme or theme.


Artwork can add a splash of color and personality to open shelves. Choose artwork that reflects your style, whether it’s abstract, landscape, or still life. Consider the size and scale of the artwork to ensure it complements the shelves without overpowering them.

Color and Texture

The use of color and texture can enhance the aesthetic value of open shelves. Combine different colors and textures to create a visually interesting display. For example, pair white ceramic bowls with wooden cutting boards or add a pop of color with brightly colored dishcloths.

Storage Solutions: What To Put On Open Shelves In Kitchen

Shelves upper neilkelly

Maximize open shelf efficiency with clever storage solutions. Baskets, bins, and dividers keep items organized, while clear containers offer visibility and opaque ones conceal clutter. Tailor storage choices to complement the kitchen’s style and function.

Organizing with Baskets and Bins

  • Baskets in various sizes and shapes accommodate bulky items like utensils, towels, and produce.
  • Bins provide a designated spot for smaller items like spices, tea bags, and coffee beans.

Dividers for Order

Dividers create sections within shelves, preventing items from mixing or toppling over.

Clear vs. Opaque Containers

  • Clear containers offer quick visibility of contents, ideal for frequently used items.
  • Opaque containers hide clutter and maintain a sleek aesthetic.

Matching Storage to Kitchen Style

Choose storage solutions that harmonize with the kitchen’s decor. Rustic baskets complement farmhouse kitchens, while modern bins suit sleek, contemporary spaces.

Vertical Utilization

Optimizing vertical space is crucial for maximizing storage on open shelves. Employing vertical solutions allows you to store more items without cluttering your kitchen.

Here are several strategies to maximize vertical space on open shelves:

Stacking Shelves

Stacking shelves is an effective way to create additional storage space. Consider using shelves with adjustable heights to accommodate items of varying sizes. For instance, you can stack a shelf with tall jars on top of a shelf with shorter containers.

Hanging Racks

Hanging racks are a versatile solution for storing utensils, cookware, and other items. Install hanging racks on the underside of shelves or on the walls above the shelves to maximize vertical space. You can also use hanging racks to store bulky items, such as pots and pans, freeing up valuable shelf space.

Floating Shelves

Floating shelves are a great way to add extra storage without taking up too much space. Install floating shelves above the counter or above other shelves to create additional storage space for frequently used items, such as spices, mugs, or small appliances.

Lighting and Display

Lighting plays a pivotal role in showcasing open shelves and transforming them into an eye-catching focal point within the kitchen. Natural light, under-shelf lighting, and pendant lights can effectively illuminate the shelves, highlighting their contents and creating a visually appealing display.

Natural Light

Natural light is an ideal source of illumination for open shelves. It casts a warm and inviting glow, enhancing the colors and textures of the displayed items. Position shelves near windows or skylights to take advantage of natural light. Consider using sheer curtains or blinds to filter and diffuse the light, creating a soft and ambient atmosphere.

Under-Shelf Lighting

Under-shelf lighting provides targeted illumination, casting a spotlight on the items displayed on the shelves. This type of lighting is particularly effective for highlighting artwork, collectibles, or other decorative objects. LED strip lights or puck lights can be easily installed under shelves, providing a sleek and modern touch to the kitchen.

Pendant Lights

Pendant lights suspended from the ceiling can add a touch of drama and sophistication to open shelves. They provide ambient lighting to the entire kitchen while also highlighting the shelves. Choose pendant lights with a design that complements the style of your kitchen and the items displayed on the shelves.

Arranging Items for Display

The arrangement of items on open shelves is crucial for creating visually appealing displays. Group similar items together, such as cookbooks, kitchen utensils, or decorative objects. Vary the heights and shapes of the items to create a dynamic and interesting arrangement.

Use risers or stackable shelves to add height and create different levels, allowing you to showcase more items.

Personalization and Customization

What to put on open shelves in kitchen

Open shelves in the kitchen provide an excellent opportunity to showcase your personal style and preferences. Here are some ideas to customize your shelves and make them truly unique:

Paint or Wallpaper

A fresh coat of paint or a layer of wallpaper can instantly transform the look of your shelves. Choose a color or pattern that complements your kitchen decor and adds a touch of personality. You can even create an ombre effect by painting the shelves in different shades of the same color.

Contact Paper

Contact paper is a self-adhesive material that comes in a variety of colors and patterns. It’s a great way to add a splash of color or a unique design to your shelves. You can use it to cover the entire shelf or just the back panel.

DIY Projects

If you’re feeling creative, you can create your own custom shelves using wood, metal, or other materials. This is a great way to add a personal touch to your kitchen and make your shelves truly one-of-a-kind.

Repurposed Items

You can also use repurposed items to add a touch of individuality to your shelves. For example, you could use old picture frames as shelves, or use old crates or baskets to store items.