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AT HOME | a blog by Joanna Gaines

The Do's and Dont's of Open Shelving

April 4, 2014

I love open shelving because it’s both practical in the sense that things are easily accessible and in plain sight, paired with it being a place to display your dishes, cups and other special items. Shelving in the kitchen can break up a line of cabinetry and give a fresh look to your space. If you keep the everyday items on your shelf, then you won’t have to worry about dust collecting. It’s important what you actually put on the shelves so it doesn’t look cluttered and overdone. Simplistic groupings and color choices are key so that the space looks open and airy.


Whether you want to utilize your shelving for decoration or for practical use, the goal is to aim for both functionality and design.

The List:

 Do:  Don’t:
  • Simple
  • Clutter
  • Categories & groupings: plates, cups, bowls, mugs
  • Insert everything random
  • Balance out groupings with larger single items
  • Over-stack
  • Vary in height and shapes
  • Use as pantry, i.e. food
  • White dishes
  • Display your fine China
  • Pick 3 colors, max 4
  • Just use one item
  • Distribute colored items across to balance
  • Layer too much
  • Top row: utilize height and items not used as often
  • Use too many different patterns
  • Mix your materials (glass, wood, metal)
  • Think every space needs to be filled
  • Cake stands & pitchers
  • Overthink!



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