Today Lila writes:

Diva, I am considering changing up my kitchen a little bit and need some major help!  I want to put some open shelves in, but I’m not sure which cabinets to choose. I’m also not sure whether I should use my existing kitchen cabinets or if I should just replace them with some contemporary floating shelves.  Do you have any suggestions on kitchen open shelving ideas?

Lila, I can definitely understand the dilemma you are facing. Especially considering that if you make what you feel is the wrong choice you’ll have to do a lot more work to get your kitchen back to square one. That said, if you are not happy with your kitchen the way it is now, you’ve got nothing to lose!  Of course, it is easy for me to say that because it’s your kitchen and not mine! But it is important to realize that any work you do here will go towards making your kitchen better not worse! I’m confident that with a little planning you’ll choose the right cabinets to make into opens shelves or floating shelves.

Kitchen Open Shelving IdeasWhen choosing which cabinets to transform or replace it’s important to consider what will be stored in those shelves. For example, in my kitchen I have one cabinet that has shelves that are slightly taller than the rest and because of that I use it for specific storage items, so I would want to make sure that the items in that cabinet are things I’d want on display. In this particular case this cabinets houses my olive and vegetable oil. I also keep the rest of my cooking supplies and spices in this cabinet and I can tell you that I do not keep that shelf tidy enough to keep its contents on display! So, I would definitely not choose it for my new open shelf design! Partly because I’m not organized enough for it, and simply because I have no where else to move the contents to.

I would be more apt to make a cabinet that holds my everyday dishes an open shelving unit. This is because I know that I can keep those shelves organized on a daily basis and because my dishes match the color scheme of my kitchen. Add to that, the fact that I would love seeing my dishes on display everyday and you’ve got a winner. Placing items that are visually appealing in open shelves is also very important. You don’t want to create an eye sore do you? Plus, it would also be very functional to place my everyday dishes into an open shelf. Because the items in this shelving unit are used everyday, they will be easy to grab.

Now that we’ve talked about what types of items could go into kitchen open shelving ideas, let’s talk about open shelving versus floating shelves. Which choice you make really boils down to which you prefer and what your skill level is. A cabinet turned open shelving will most likely have more storage space. It will also conform with the space of the closed cabinets and the only visual difference will be the lack of doors. If you are looking for something to break up the boxiness a little more you may want to consider the floating shelves. They will open the space up a little and introduce a new shape into your upper kitchen cabinets. Depending on the style and shape of the shelves, however, you may not have as much storage space.

When it comes to skill level, taking the cabinets down is fairly easy but it may require additional work. Do you know what the state of the wall behind the cabinet is in?  If you live in an older home, are you prepared to remove old wallpaper or tile or fix major wall blemishes? Not to mention you are going to have to fill in the screw holes and probably sand and repaint the wall before you can even install your shelves. I’m not trying to scare you away from removing the wall cabinets, I am only warning you that odds are you won’t just be able to remove the wall cabinet and install the floating shelves without some prep work.

If  you decide to keep the cabinet and just remove the doors have you considered what it will look like with the screw holes for the hardware exposed? Are you going to fill them in? Or have you decided to prime and paint the cabinet and inside shelves?  All of these questions are important and should be figured out prior to beginning the project.

Regardless of which kitchen open shelving ideas you choose, it’s important to consider as many aspects of the project beforehand as possible. This way you can make an informed decision and be ready for any additional prep work that may arise!  I’m confident that you’ll make the best decision for your space and will be able to admire and enjoy all your hard work!

Do you have questions about the selecting or the installation of: tile, carpet or wall treatments (window blinds, etc)? Then email me your tale of woe (diva(at) and perhaps I will be able to answer your questions right here at the Home Makeover Diva Blog!



Written by Amanda Hartley