Kitchen Shelf Life – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

So you fancy open shelves in your kitchen? You love the way they look on Pinterest and in the magazines. So practical and yet so decorative. And they look so darned pretty. You’re absolutely sure they would be a great style statement in your kitchen too. Well, I’ve had open shelves in the kitchen in the past, and I’m here to tell you to consider this very carefully.

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Kitchen Shelf Life - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Image: Pip Studio at Daisy Park

The Good

Yes, open shelves can look amazing. The kitchen can sometimes be a clinical looking space. Especially if you have just moved into a new house and the builders/previous occupants thought they would maximise storage space by putting wall cupboards EVERYWHERE! It’s tempting to rip them all down to allow for a more spacious look and to give some opportunity to stamp your own personality on a space. Because that’s what open shelves are very good for. They provide a lovely display surface in a functional room. Somewhere to show off your best china, your collection of mason jars filled with dried goods, an inspirational quote or two, your favourite recipe books, and some green stuff (herbs, plants, a bunch of daffs). You can see it now can’t you?

Kitchen Shelf Life - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Image: Marks and Spencer

They also give a perfect opportunity to inject some style. Maybe you have a hankering for a more ‘country’ looking kitchen and hefty, rough hewn timber would look perfectly in keeping. Or some industrial looking metal shelving will reflect the ‘loft style’ interior you’ve been dreaming of for ages. I have to admit, shelves are great for reinforcing design decisions.

Kitchen Shelf Life - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Image: Marks and Spencer

And let’s face it, open shelves can actually be a very practical decision too. It’s handy to have all of your most used items just an arms length away. No more kneeling down to delve into the depths of impractical base units. Especially the corner ones. No more moving other items before you are able to reach the one thing you are looking for. And no more cupboard doors to bump into because you forgot to close them in your haste.

Kitchen Shelf Life - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Image: House of Fraser

The Bad

You’re already sold on the idea by now of open shelves. But are you really going to keep them tidy and looking good? Those images you’ve been pinning, have been styled for the photograph. It’s very unlikely they look like that all of the time. You will probably have to put aside some time once a week (you know, on top of all those other household chores), to sort them out and get them looking pretty again. Do the family know that they are not a dumping ground for all the things THEY want to have to hand also? The phone charger, the bill that needs to be paid, the homework timetable and that Lego brick, will all probably find their way onto the shelves when you’re not looking, or when you’re laying the table for dinner in a hurry.

Kitchen Shelf Life - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Image: Marks and Spencer

The Ugly

And yes there is an ugly side to open shelves in the kitchen and I know this one very well. It’s called airborne grease and dust. It accumulates at an alarming rate. Those shelves don’t just need a weekly tidy up, they need a monthly scrub. And that means all of the things on them too. Especially the things you don’t take down and use on a daily basis. Like the inspirational quotes, and very likely the mason jars filled with dried goods. When was the last time you did any baking anyway?

Kitchen Shelf Life - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Image: Next Home

So, if I haven’t put you off, there’s a couple of things you can take out of this. It’s better to use kitchen shelves for things you use EVERY DAY. By all means add a few things purely for the decorative value, but be prepared to wash them regularly. And tidy up and re-arrange them as often as you can. After all, they were mean’t to look darned pretty.

 

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8 Comments

  1. Reply

    Stacey Sheppard

    April 12, 2018

    Everything you’ve said here is absolutely spot on. When we did a few improvements to our kitchen I decided to go for one open shelf below the cabinets because we have so little cupboard space and I needed more storage. Lots of people warned me against it saying it would get dusty and greasy. But as I only put the crockery and glasses that we use for every meal on this shelf it isn’t too bad at all. Everything gets washed at least one a day if not three times so no dust or grease. I definitely wouldn’t go for open shelving for anything other than daily use items though.

    • Reply

      deardesigner

      April 13, 2018

      I should think one shelf exactly where you can see it is probably the best compromise. And it is practical for everyday items. It’s those hard to reach shelves that get forgotten about that are the main problem 🙁

  2. Reply

    Antonia #tidylife

    April 12, 2018

    I agree with you here, although open shelves look lovely (when kept tidy) it’s the inevitable grease and dust coating everything that puts me off! I would probably compromise and have a couple of open shelves for the pretty items that are easy to keep on top of, but everything else should live behind cupboard doors! X

    • Reply

      deardesigner

      April 12, 2018

      That sounds like a good compromise to me 🙂

  3. Reply

    Rachel @ The Ordinary Lovely

    April 11, 2018

    I’ve always loved the look of open shelves but since having one in our new house, no, they’re not for me. The dust is awful but even that doesn’t compare to the fact that my husband sees a shelf as an alternative to putting things away. So quickly has it become a dumping ground. Give me cupboards any day!

    • Reply

      deardesigner

      April 12, 2018

      I’m veering towards your viewpoint at the moment. But who knows. In the next house there might be a wall screaming out for shelves. Haha x

  4. Reply

    Kimberly Duran

    April 11, 2018

    HA! All very practical considerations and a very well-balanced viewpoint! I too have enjoyed having open shelving in my kitchen and I do love it. It stays nice and tidy pretty easily because I just put everything back where I got it but agree that having things that you use daily definitely cuts down on cleaning time. Speaking of, about every 6 weeks I used to have to take EVERYTHING down and wash everything by hand and scrub the shelves. It’s not fun. It’s a big commitment. But for the style statement it makes, it’s worth it. I’m getting them again in my next kitchen (and a dishwasher this time to help lol) 😉 xx

    • Reply

      deardesigner

      April 12, 2018

      I love the look of your kitchen shelves! Glad to hear you are going to have them again, but a dishwasher is going to be a gamechanger. Couldn’t live without mine. x

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