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10 Open Shelving and Open Cabinet Ideas for Kitchen

January 08, 2022 | Updated on: January 31, 2022

Rustic Shelving Cabinets

Today, open shelves and open cabinets are among the most popular kitchen design features. Homeowners and interior designers prefer to have a kitchen with shelves instead of cabinets in their homes primarily because it is a cost-effective way of remodelling a kitchen.


In addition to that, open kitchen cabinets no doors can be installed effortlessly. They look contemporary and minimalistic which makes them a versatile design feature that’s easy to style and maintain.

Open Kitchen Cabinets Ideas

So, whether you are planning to do a full-scale renovation of your kitchen, or simply upgrading its features for a modern, fresher look, you will never go wrong with open kitchen cabinets. Here are open kitchen cabinet ideas and open shelving kitchen ideas that will absolutely look good in your kitchen.

Rustic Shelving Cabinets

Kitchen with rustic shelves

The rustic farmhouse look is a popular kitchen aesthetic that never seems to go out of trend. If you are someone who loves to browse images on the internet about kitchen design ideas, you’ve probably come across a ton of these rustic kitchen look on Pinterest and Instagram. This particular kitchen design style is where open kitchen cabinets can be widely seen. The farmhouse look does not directly equate to having traditional shelves. As designers look for ways on how to incorporate different design styles, they often opt for a rustic open shelf cabinet against a contemporary backdrop to create substance and visual character.  

Open Pantry

Open shelves pantry

An open pantry is ideal for a kitchen with a small limited space. If you don’t have an extra room for a pantry, you can use an empty wall to create or install an open cupboards kitchen to serve as your pantry. An open pantry is both wise in design aesthetic and function. Since it is open, it allows you to access your cookware, more conveniently and efficiently. You can also decorate and style it in an organized way for added style. Moreover, being able to see directly what’s in store will help you assess whether you have enough products and goods in-store.

Luxurious Steel Shelving Units

Luxurious Steel Shelving Units

Most open cabinet in kitchen is primarily made of wood. From the cupboards to floating shelves, these are almost always made of wood. While wood is the material that mostly dominates the kitchen, this does not stop steel from getting into the scene. Steel shelving units have the ability to transform a kitchen from mundane to luxurious. Depending on the interior design style, steel shelving can be a great addition to a contemporary modern kitchen or to an industrial-style kitchen.  

Kitchen Racks

Kitchen Racks

Kitchen racks are also considered an open-shelf kitchen feature. Kitchen racks can either be big or small. Having a kitchen rack will save you a great amount of time and effort while doing tasks in the kitchen such as cooking, organizing, unpacking, storing goods, and categorizing utensils. Kitchen racks can be used for a variety of functions. You can use them to store your fruits, snacks, spice jars, or use them to transport certain goods for organizing and disposal.

Open Wall Cabinet

Open Wall Cabinet

An open wall cabinet is originally a cabinet but its doors have been removed. Designers do this to create an open cabinet kitchen feature. This is the easiest way to incorporate modern kitchen shelves in your kitchen if you are considering having one. If you have a traditional cupboard and you want to upgrade your kitchen into a much more contemporary look, then simply removing the doors of your cabinets and organizing the items on each shelf is a good way to go. This helps you save time and money and allows you to keep certain features and materials that are still usable, durable, and looks aesthetically great.

Open Cabinet With Shelves

Open Cabinet with shelves

An open cabinet with shelves is basically, a set of cabinets that has both open and closed shelves. You have the option to remove the doors of a certain portion and keep the others. This style depends on the craftsmanship of your kitchen cabinetry. Some kitchen with open shelves has traditional-looking cabinets that are already designed this way such as glass-front cabinets. Common examples are exposed kitchen shelves above the sink with closed cabinets on both sides.

Floating Open Shelving

Floating open shelving

Floating shelves are way less expensive than cabinets that is why a lot of people, especially those who just move into their new house, prefer to incorporate this style. Floating shelves can either be made of a wood plank or metal and can be long or short depending on where you would like to place them. Having an open shelf also requires you to keep your kitchen look organized and tidy all the time which requires effort and time. Make sure you are ready and committed to the work that comes along with having this feature in your kitchen.

Ceiling Rack

Ceiling Rack

A ceiling rack has many uses. It can be both decorative and functional. It is sometimes referred to as a pot rack because typically, what you put on these racks are pots and pans. Others use this for decorative purposes and put wines and wine glasses, lighting fixtures, and hanging plants. Because it is a storage that has no enclosure, it is considered an example of a modern open shelving kitchen.

Open Shelves With a Mix of Glass-Front Cabinets

Open Shelves and Glass Doors

Many people would prefer glass-front cabinets over enclosed cabinets. This transparency gives the impression that the cabinet is open even though it has a glass enclosure. It is a great way to have that open kitchen appeal while having an enclosure that protects your utensils from dirt, dust, and insects. You have the choice to mix glass-front cabinets with open shelves which is quite a similar concept to the one previously discussed about open shelves with closed cupboards located on both of its sides.

Undercabinet Floating Shelf

Undercabinet floating shelf

If you don’t want to go all out with open shelving, you can put floating shelf under your overhead cabinets where you can place items like coffee jars, honey, or spices. These floating shelves acts as a decorative element but also very useful since it allows you to move conveniently and more efficiently because it offers an extra shelf space to temporarily hold your items. You can also use the undercabinet floating shelf to display decorative kitchen accessories such as signage, decorative resins, candleholders, and small succulent potted plants.

Pros and Cons of Open Kitchens

Floating shelves kitchen ideas can make your kitchen look like one of those HGTV kitchen designs you see on the internet. However, keep in mind that in order to have the kitchen of your dreams, make sure that you know how to care for it and maintain it. Here are the pros and cons of having open kitchen shelves.



An open shelf kitchen is convenient and easily accessible. Since the storage spaces does not have doors, you can easily grab items off the shelf when you are going to use them. This is convenient especially if you are cooking, or doing something in a rush.

Open shelves and open cabinets require regular cleaning. Since it is open, the storage is exposed to dust, bacteria, and even insects. Therefore, it is important that you clean the shelves regularly. It can be a chore that is why you have to know ahead whether open shelves work for you or not.

It’s true that open shelving small kitchen makes your kitchen interiors look as aesthetically pleasing as those you see on Pinterest and Instagram. If aesthetics and visual character is your primary aim in a dream kitchen, you should definitely opt or open kitchen shelves.

If not styled and organized, your kitchen will look absolutely cluttered. The perfect kitchens you see on the internet are staged prior to photoshoot. The truth is, kitchens does not always look that immaculate. You do a lot of task in the kitchen. Cooking, preparing meals, washing plates, baking, and a lot more. Every area is prone to grease and stains. On top of that, you need to keep everything looking perfectly organized on your open cabinets to keep your kitchen look sleek and tidy.

Open shelves kitchen and floating shelves cost less compared to traditional cabinets. You can simply buy a shelf slab on Ikea or repurpose wooden slabs. You can also request for fit outs and customized shelves. You can do all these, but still spend less than when you decide to buy a traditional cabinet or buy customized kitchen cabinetry. Since open shelves are also easy to install, you can install them yourself or with a help of a family member which saves you money on labor costs.

You need to be extra careful. Having your plates, cups, mugs, and bowls on your open cabinets makes them vulnerable to falling and breaking. When you decide to have an open shelf, make sure your kids and pets don’t play near them.

Whether you decide to change interior design styles from Modern Victorian to Contemporary, or Farmhouse to Scandinavian, an open shelves kitchen design will always fit into those styles. Because of its versatility and adaptability, you can style it effortlessly and pull off a wonderful kitchen design composition with ease.

Utensils and cookware can easily accumulate dust. There are certain utensils that we don’t often use regularly. However, if you have an open shelf or if you store them in an open cabinet, chances are they will get dirty with dust quite easily. This will require you to make the extra effort and time to clean them. If you don’t have that much time, it can really be a hassle.



Article by:

Valentina Melnikova - Lead Designer at Cut2Size

Office 403.366.7411

Hi there! I’m a millwork designer and an owner of a kitchen cabinet manufacturing company. With a team of professionals, I work on designing and manufacturing high-end millwork. Combining professional designing and manufacturing skills is what allows us to develop and translate our plans into a reality through our uniqueness and exclusive ideas. Our employees are highly skilled and creative thinkers that also utilize their professionalism and experience to take millwork to the next level. I’m very familiar with the industry and I take on each project from the design to the final product. With that said, if you’re looking for design advice or technician help, you’re in the right place.