what to put on open kitchen shelves

Are you wondering what to put on open kitchen shelves? Installing open shelves increases your kitchen’s storage space and adds more elegance to your home. Unfortunately, most people don’t know how to use an open shelf effectively.

If you’ve recently added some floating or open shelves, but you’re struggling to decide what kind of everyday items you should display on them, you’re in the right place. Here, we’ll share some open-shelving kitchen ideas, so you can make the most of your space.

Let’s get started.

Kitchen Shelves Decor Ideas

What to put on kitchen shelves? One of the best things about using open shelves in kitchen design is that you can be as creative as you like. There’s no specific set of rules to follow when it comes to kitchen shelving ideas. It’s up to you to decide whether you want to create a space for more practical items in your kitchen, like plates and dishes, or whether you want to use your shelving as a focal point for extra beauty.

Here are some quick ways to use open shelving in kitchens to get you started:

Highlight a Collection

Kitchen shelves can be an excellent place to display some of your favourite collections. You might show off some rustic old glasses or jars filled with dry goods like pasta and grains or draw attention to your favourite vases and collectables.

Show off your Glassware

Wine glasses and other everyday glasses can be very aesthetically pleasing when arranged on display in a beautiful kitchen. Using your kitchen shelving space to store practical items instead of decorative items is also a great way to save space.

Plates and Dishes

zero waste storage in cooking area

Are you running out of space in your cabinet shelving for all of your dishes, plates, and serving ware? Plates and dishes can look beautiful when placed on cabinets or wall shelves. This is particularly true if your bowls and plates have great patterns that match your kitchen decòr.

Place Antiques

Antiques can add rustic beauty to your open-shelving kitchen. Everything from porcelain figures to old-fashioned wine glasses and cake stands looks incredible on the right shelves. You can even hang art pieces from your shelf space.

Food Storage

Kitchen shelves topped with matching jars full of dry goods like coffee and rice are an excellent way to make your kitchen look homey. Just make sure you don’t let the food in your glass jars go bad.

Unique Décor

Decorative items for the open shelves in your kitchen don’t have to be related to food and cooking. You can also showcase items like candlesticks, open recipe books, and unique storage containers that match your colour scheme.

Trailing Plants

Trailing plants are a modern way to bring elements of the outdoors into your kitchen. Matched alongside items from your pantry and other pieces of décor, trailing plants can help to really bring your kitchen to life. Make sure the colour of the plants you choose matches the overall theme you’re going for with your kitchen.


Practical and attractive at the same time, when you display your cookbooks on your kitchen shelving, you get to showcase the kind of cooking you do and keep your instructions handy for meals.

How do you Make Open Shelves Look Good?

Making your kitchen shelves look fantastic is a personal process. It’s up to you what kind of style or image you create with the room you have. However, there are a few useful tips you can keep in mind as you choose the decor for your open kitchen environment, such as the following.

Choose a Theme

A theme can help you to find inspiration for your open shelving. For instance, you might want a rustic theme with lots of antiques and different textures or a homely theme with pictures from special moments in your family’s life.

Have a Colour Palette

A good colour pallet will make your shelves and kitchen decorations look neater. Try to decide on a handful of colours for the components in your kitchen. The colours you choose might match the colours on your cabinet doors, or a special central part of your kitchen, like the tiling.

Add Splashes of Colour

If your house has a lot of neutral colours throughout it, the kitchen can be the ideal place to add some splashes of colour. Keep the majority of your kitchen neutral and add styling elements to bring colour into the mix by displaying brightly coloured bowls on your shelving or an antique soup pot.

Try Dual Cones

If you’re trying to achieve a sense of vibrancy and calm at the same time, filling one shelf with one colour and another shelf with a different shade is a great way to display your kitchen shelving.

Keep it Clean

Try to avoid loading your open kitchen shelves with coffee cups and extra plates when you run out of space. Keep the wall space as clean and uncluttered as possible while allowing your personality to shine through.

How Do You Stage Open Kitchen Shelves?

kitchen wall decors

Open shelving is a growing trend in the kitchen environment and an exciting opportunity for homeowners to show their unique style. While you don’t want to take up too much space with open shelves, a little shelving can be a fabulous way to add some interest to your kitchen. Plus, it gives you a great location to store some extra kitchen essentials.

When staging your open shelves for visitors or house hunters, make sure you remove any clutter or mess that might look your cabinets or shelving seem overcrowded. Each shelf should contain a handful of items. Displaying items in odd numbers is often a good idea, as it helps to draw attention to the middle of the wall.

Try to avoid using your shelving exclusively for storage by taking extra clutter out of the house. If you’re going to be storing foods in jars on your shelves, make sure the style of the glass jars matches the theme you’re trying to create with the room.

Other tips to keep in mind include:

  • Get creative: Don’t be afraid to experiment with practical and decorative items to give people viewing your house an idea of what they could do with the space. You could use the top shelf of your kitchen shelving for antique glassware and the lower shelf for glasses your family uses every day. You can even hang art from the bottom of your shelves when decorating kitchen shelves if it doesn’t take up too much space.
  • Blend materials and textures: When experimenting with decorating kitchen shelves, don’t be afraid to look into different textures and materials. Different textures and tones, like wood and metal, can go together to create a beautiful, finished look. Consider looking up some kitchen shelf décor ideas on Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration.
  • Play with patterns: Colored glasses with patterns and other products with unique designs can really add something special to your kitchen décor idea. Consider experimenting with patterns but try not to use too many different patterns in one room.
  • Vary the heights of decorative items: Using different heights in the pieces you display when styling your open shelving helps to add more visual interest to the shelf, so it doesn’t seem bland and boring. For instance, with a row of dishes, the largest plate should be in the middle, surrounded by smaller plates.

Is Open Shelving Practical for Smaller Kitchens?

When you’re styling open shelves, it’s important to keep the size of your shelves and kitchen in mind. Your open shelves can be a fantastic way to take advantage of some of the vertical space in a smaller kitchen without relying too much on large and bulky cabinets, which can detract from your style.

zero waste home concept

However, if you’re going to be hanging shelves on a wall in a smaller kitchen, it’s important to be cautious about how you spread aspects of your kitchen out. Don’t clutter the shelves with too much décor, even during special occasions, as this can make your kitchen look smaller.

If you are using an open cupboard kitchen or learning how to decorate kitchen shelves in a smaller kitchen space, it’s also best to use the space as practically as possible where you can. Styling decorative items to work alongside practical items is a good way to maximize your space.

Making the Most of Open Kitchen Shelves

We hope this article provided you with some useful ideas on what to put on open kitchen shelves.

Kitchen shelves, if kept free from dust and grime, can be an excellent way to upgrade your kitchen style and make the most out of your available storage space. There are tons of kitchen shelving ideas out there for beginners to work with, which take advantage of both storage containers and shelf décor to make the space look as unique as possible.

Remember, when creating your open-shelf design, don’t be afraid to get creative. Unless you’re using open shelves just to display more space in your kitchen for potential homebuyers, you’re free to inject your personality into the appearance of your shelves. Consider adding things unique to you and your family, like a mug made by a child or a picture of you and your loved ones. You can use your shelves however you choose.

What do you showcase on your open kitchen shelves? Do you have any other decor tips you’d like to share with us? Let us know in the comments below!

Additional Resources

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *