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What To Put On Open Shelves In A Kitchen

February 20, 2021

Open Shelves

How many of you have beautiful open shelving in your kitchen but don’t know what to put on them? I can help! It’s actually pretty simple to style open shelves if you follow this structure and plan.

I change my open shelves out every season. At Christmas they host my Department 56 Snow Village. In the fall the shelves reflect the warmth and coziness of autumn. Now in spring I’m wanting clean, simple styling with only two colors so it feels modern and uncluttered.

What to put on open shelves

  • bowls
  • plates
  • books
  • beads
  • items that are special to you
  • art
  • signs
  • plants
  • cutting boards
  • candlesticks
  • drinking glasses
  • vases
  • trays
  • candles
  • jars
  • unique pieces (ie. gold watering can)
  • faux antlers

It’s not so much WHAT you put on the shelves but HOW you arrange the pieces.

Sometimes we learn best by seeing how other people do it. Let me show you two examples of open shelving styled beautifully.

The first is from @thehillarystyle

And this lovely open shelf styling from The Identite Collective

Open Shelves

There are some specific design guidelines to help get the look you see but don’t know how to achieve. Let’s go over them.

Design Guidelines for Open Shelving

  • Decide on a color scheme – neutrals and muted tones work very well. In my example I chose black and wood as my two main elements.
  • Vary shape and height, or repeat patterns – Whether you vary heights of objects, or repeat a pattern, keep it simple. Mix large objects with small ones, pair items in odd numbers (ie. 1 or 3 of something looks best over 2), and add contrast in color.
  • Add greenery & texture – greenery is a secret element to any space. So is black. It grounds a space. Add a little black and a little greenery to your shelves and you’ll like them more. I promise.
  • Leave room for the eye to rest – If there is too much clutter on your open shelves, it looks crowded and nothing will be noticed, even if you have beautiful items. Leave space – it will make the grouping feel calming and beautiful rather than chaotic. I purposefully left the bottom left corner visually free. The wood tray there finishes out the wood theme well, while providing a “mail drop” and visual white space.
Open Shelves

I hope this helps!

I’d love to hear what you put on your open shelves. Tag me on Instagram if you do a re-style of your shelves and post it!

This is the REEL I posted but if you missed it – here you go.

Pin this for later

Open Shelves, kitchen

Go here to see my full kitchen remodel (aka. the big island take over)!

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