The number one comment I read or hear about when it comes to open kitchen shelves is that you have to be realllllly clean and organized to pull them off. All that dust, all the clutter- how does anyone really live with open shelves? I wondered this myself, and it was a huge reason I waited so long to try them out in our kitchen. Today I thought I would share my honest opinion/review about how open shelves are working for us, 9 months later.

Open shelves in a white kitchen-2

First let me set the scene.

We have a really old, average kitchen. It’s original to the house, and legitimate Farmhouse in every sense of the word. To be honest, it isn’t super functional for our family of 5. The stove is on the fritz, we have an 80’s roll away dishwasher that sounds like a space shuttle, the lower cabinets are borderline useless (because they are 30% grain bins, 40% shallow drawers, and 30% sink cabinet), and the counter tops are are a good height for a hobbit! The 2 closed upper cabinets that we do have work really hard for us. There is one wall plug which is in a bizarre place, thank goodness our stove has 2 outlets! We have one IKEA drawer cabinet that saves our bacon, and a little kitchen cart. Let’s just say it’s very piecemeal.


We use the kitchen A LOT. I homeschool our kids, so we are home for most every meal. We live far away from take out and restaurants, which means we eat supper at home almost every night. We live in this kitchen.

Adding open shelving was an inexpensive solution to a storage issue. (you can read about it here) It cost less than $30. I still haven’t painted them, but some day I will. For a budget friendly option I really don’t think open shelves can be beat. This is a hold me over Phase 1 project until we have saved the funds to renovate our kitchen, and it really was a great addition.

Open shelves in a white kitchen-4

I have carefully selected what lives on our shelves. Maybe my shelves feel busy to you, but to me they are more or less just right. I try to keep everyday items on the lower shelf- butter, porridge, rice, chia seeds, coconut sugar, sugar, raisins… bowls, medium mason jars (which we use as cups) and the larger mason jars for food storage. The upper shelf is for less used items and display- aside from the mixing bowl and stemless glasses which get used often. I check the dessert plates to see if they need a rinse before using.


Open shelves in a white kitchen-3

3 Most Common Concerns of Open Shelves

The Clutter: My 7 year old unloads the dishes. He does a great job of stacking the bowls and setting the cups where they belong, it’s no different than if they were behind closed doors. I only keep things on the shelves that belong there. Nothing extra.

The Dust: Dust collects. It’s true. But, you just wipe or vacuum your shelves now and then. It takes 2 minutes. Dust never collects on our every day items because, well, we use them everyday.

The Chaos: There really isn’t any. There are items that get put away on the shelves, just like the silver ware that belongs in their cubbies in a drawer. Figure out what you want to put on your shelves and keep it that way.

Open shelves in a white kitchen-1

My tips for using, loving and living with open shelves:

  1. Fill them with everyday items
  2. Keep to a common color theme. Mine is glass, and whites, with seasonal accent colors. Right now I have splashes of pinks and greens for spring.
  3. Vacuum or dust now and again.
  4. Have a mix of open and closed storage in your space. We all have items that are better left behind closed doors.

Open shelves in a white kitchen-6

Speaking of storage… you guys will be so proud- my bar cabinet doors are finally painted and back up! It feels much brighter! I’ll get to the lowers once I am finished with the One Room Challenge.

So, what about you? Do you have open shelves in your kitchen? Are you an anti-open shelver? I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback in the comments, and I am sure others would too!

Happy Monday!

-Miss Ash




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