Open Shelving Kitchen Display Kitchenware without Trying Too Hard

Open shelving kitchens are an increasingly popular design choice for modern homes. Displaying your beautiful kitchenware on open shelves, without trying too hard, creates an effortlessly stylish look. From cookbooks to coffee mugs, stainless steel pots to colorful crockery, open shelving allows you to show off your favorite kitchen items with ease.

Benefits of Open Shelving Kitchen Displays

There are many benefits to embracing open shelving in your kitchen design:

  • Visual Appeal – Open shelves create a lighter, airier look in the kitchen. The eye is drawn upwards and outwards, creating the illusion of more space. Glassware sparkles, kitchenware gleams, and collections look curated and considered.
  • Easy Access – Open shelving places everything in sight and within easy reach. No more fumbling in cupboards hunting for ingredients or tools. Frequently used items can be grabbed and returned swiftly.
  • Flexible Storage – Adjustable shelves allow you to customize storage to suit your needs. Accommodate tall saucepans or stack plates higher as required. Shelves can also be moved or added over time.
  • Cleaning Made Simple – Open shelving requires more frequent dusting but also makes cleaning easier. You can quickly see surfaces that need attention and access is simple. Closed cupboards easily hide grease and grime.

Design Tips for Open Shelving Kitchens

The key to successfully integrating open shelving into your kitchen design is assuring it looks purposeful, not haphazard. Follow these tips for a cohesive, clutter-free look:

Choose a Consistent Shelf System

Opt for matching shelves in terms of style, materials, and dimensions. Mixing different types of shelving looks disjointed. Simple bracket systems or rail-mounted shelves work well. Wood, metal, or glass are common materials. Maintain a consistent depth between 8 and 12 inches for functionality. Shelves should be sturdy enough to hold heavier cookware.

Edit and Curate Display Items

Resist the urge to cram every piece of kitchenware onto open shelves. This creates visual clutter. Carefully edit items so each shelf has breathing room and items are intentionally chosen. Group items with something in common – by color, material, function or can be thematically linked. Rotate items seasonally to keep displays fresh and reflective of how you currently use your kitchen.

Use Bookends

Bookend-style brackets are invaluable for keeping items corralled neatly on shelves. Position them at each end, or intermittently along deeper shelves to neatly divide and organize. Depending on the item, bookends can be vertical, horizontal, or L-shaped. They come in a vast range of colors and materials so you can match your existing hardware and shelves.

Combine Open and Closed Storage

Not everything needs to be on display. Use a combination of open shelving and closed cupboards in your kitchen design. Store clutter-prone items like food boxes, cleaning supplies, and spare equipment behind cupboard doors. Open shelves work best for showcasing tableware, glassware, cookbooks, jars of ingredients and attractive kitchen tools.

Illuminate Displays

Lighting is key for open shelving to truly shine. Use under cabinet lights or directional spotlights on shelves to create a gallery-style look. LED strip lighting gives shelves a soft ambient glow. Illumination highlights and enhances the colors, shapes and textures of the objects on display. Just be sure lighting is not so harsh it creates distracting glare.

Style Safely

Take care to position breakable glassware and valuables away from the busiest zones in your kitchen. Opt for unbreakable melamine or camping-style tableware for items within a child’s reach. Use shelf brackets to prevent larger, heavier pots and pans from creating a safety hazard if they fall. Anchoring items with museum wax gives added stability.

Open Shelving Kitchenware Display Ideas

Showcase your treasured kitchenware to its full potential with these stylish yet practical open shelving display ideas:

Everyday Dinnerware

Group sets of plates, bowls and mugs in matching or coordinating patterns. A mix of solid colors and patterns gives visual interest. Stack them neatly and divide with bookends. Add flourish with napkin rings. Mixing vintage finds with new pieces gives character.


Open shelving provides the perfect place to sparkle glassware like wine glasses, tumblers and pitchers. Use acrylic dividers, stacked glass racks or hanging stemware storage to corral them neatly. Group by color and shape. Lit shelves make glassware twinkle.


Open shelving lets you display cookbooks attractively with their spines facing out. Use bookends to prevent sagging and slipping. Organize by cuisine, dietary needs, or color. Have your most used volumes close at hand. Prop up opened books to display pages.

Kitchen Tools

Gather stirring spoons, spatulas, ladles and tongs into a matching crock, vase or upright utensil holder. Or affix them to the shelf with hooks. Group lesser used gadgets like cherry pitters and apple corers for easy access. Display heirloom rolling pins.

Serving Pieces

Open shelving offers easy access for frequently used serving pieces like cake stands, trivets and cheese boards. Place decorative objects like cloches and cake domes to elevate a shelf. Use risers or angled brackets to show off items.

Pantry Staples

Neatly line up oil and vinegar cruets, salt and pepper mills, spices and seasoning blends. Use canisters to corral staples like pasta, rice, beans and baking supplies. Employ vertical dividers, risers and bookends to keep items organized.

Coffee and Tea Paraphernalia

Group mugs on hooks or mug trees, framed by coffee scoops, sugar bowls and honey pots. Display different teas, infuser spoons and pretty tea tins. Add artwork and quotes to create a beverage nook. Position near coffee maker for convenient access.

Displaying Kitchenware Without Trying Too Hard

The simplicity of open shelving allows your kitchenware to take center stage without complicated display tactics. Here are some tips for effortlessly showcasing your items:

  • Rely on color – Group items together in matching or coordinating hues. This color-blocking effect looks bold and graphic.
  • Focus on shape – Round bowls, oval platters, and tall slender vases have inherent beauty. Arrange items to highlight their outlines and silhouettes.
  • Allow breathing room – Avoid cramming and clutter by allowing generous space between items. This givesshelving a calmer, more peaceful look.
  • Employ levels – Stack items of graduated heights or use risers for dimension and visual interest. This adds depth without complicated techniques.
  • Permit open space – Don’t fill every inch of every shelf. Leaving some areas open creates a cleaner look and draws the eye to key pieces.
  • Light it up – Illumination is key. Well-placed lighting casts items in a flattering glow without requiring much effort.
  • Simplify materials – Stick to one or two materials like white pottery, wood boards, or glassware for cohesion. Resist a jumble of mismatched pieces.
  • Rotate seasonally – Keep your look fresh by swapping some items with the seasons. Spring might feature brighter colors while fall opts for warm earthy tones.

Potential Problems with Open Shelving

While beautiful, open shelving does come with a few potential downsides to consider:

  • More frequent dusting is required since everything is exposed. Shelving often needs wiped down weekly.
  • Items not frequently used can collect dust over time, even with regular cleaning. This can be minimized through thoughtful curating and rotating items.
  • Valuables and fragile items like fine china may be safer stored in closed cabinets rather than open shelves.
  • Items must be arranged neatly at all times or open shelves can quickly look cluttered and messy. This demands some maintenance.
  • Noisy items like metal pots clanking can create more noise nuisance without muffled cupboard doors. Shelf pads help minimize this.
  • Ingredients like oils and spices have a shorter shelf life when exposed to light and air. Use dark containers to help preserve them.
  • Wall discoloration can occur over time if shelves aren’t spaced from the wall to allow air circulation.

Style Options for Open Shelving

Beyond just utility, open shelving introduces style and visual interest to kitchens. Here are some popular aesthetic approaches:

Modern Minimalism

The clean lines and negative space of open shelving fit seamlessly into minimalist kitchens. Unadorned aluminium, steel or floating glass shelves support the pared-back look. Choose sleek kitchenware in solid neutrals to complement the aesthetic.

Rustic Farmhouse

Rough-hewn wood shelves in finishes like whitewash or grey wash bring warmth and texture. Mix painted and stained woods for dimension. Display vintage or distressed kitchenware like worn enamelware or antique cake stands befitting a farmhouse kitchen.

Industrial Edge

The practical functionality of open shelving works perfectly in industrial spaces. Pipe or rod metal shelves and steel bracket rails bring an edgy, architectural look. Kitchenware can mirror the look by displaying sleek stainless steel, galvanized metal and enamelware.


For the curator who loves treasured finds, open shelving provides a place to showcase an eclectic mix. Choose shelves with personality like reclaimed barnwood. Display your one-of-a-kind collected kitchenware in all its quirky glory!


Open shelving can make a stunning design statement and provide functional storage when thoughtfully executed. Edit your kitchenware display carefully, permitting items to shine through smart styling. Remember, restraint allows your collections to dazzle without complicated techniques or clutter. With good lighting and consistent shelving, you can showcase your kitchenware beautifully and effortlessly. When designed with purpose, open shelves become the perfect place to highlight your favorite kitchen pieces all while enhancing your space with character and style.