Open Shelving Ideas: How to Style

Open floor plans and open shelves have made a comeback in today’s design world. Seems we like the idea of living in open spaces, unencumbered by walls and doors. While this look may not be for everyone, I thought I’d share open shelving ideas from a few friends, along with ideas from my own house. You’ll also get ideas on how to style open shelves.

If you visit my blog, you’ve probably seen my farmhouse sideboard with a simple pair of painted shelves from Michael’s overhead.  I didn’t want to add a closed cupboard overhead since there’s a built-in cupboard to the left. To keep styling simple, I hung large white mugs from hooks and placed just a few items on the shelf. My flour and sugar canisters are there within handy reach for baking.

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Kristen at Ella Claire added open shelving to a blank wall in her kitchen. I love the large jars that organize sundry items. The canisters are useful and are an easy way to style the shelves.

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Cami at Tidbits shares a great kitchen solution for those of you who don’t have a window over your kitchen sink or have an empty space between cabinets. Add a shelf with hooks for hanging frequently used utensils. I love this idea!  So practical, and it looks great too.

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Above the stove in my farmhouse kitchen, I added a single shelf with favorite pieces from my white ironstone collection. I didn’t want to add closed cupboards on this wall because they would’ve blocked part of the kitchen windows. The shelf seemed like the perfect solution.

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Don’t have space for open shelving in your kitchen? Beth at Home Stories A to Z simply removed cupboard doors in her kitchen to create open shelves. They’re beautifully styled with a mix of baskets, glassware, and white dishes.

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Courtney at French Country Cottage shares the same idea in her white kitchen. If you decide you don’t like the look later on, simply replace the cupboard door.

White Kitchen at French Country Cottage


April at Burst of Beautiful created open shelves for an office area in her kitchen.

Kitchen Office at Burst of Beautiful


Open shelving ideas don’t have to be limited to the kitchen. Lolly Jane added a wall of open shelves in her dining room.

Open Shelving at Lolly Jane


Jenn at My Fabuless Life also incorporates open shelving in her dining room. In addition to favorite items on the shelf, she added a few hanging pieces on the wall.

Dining Room at My Fabuless Life


If you’d like to add open shelving in your home, Kellie at Nest of Posies shows how to make farmhouse shelves. She added them to a corner of her living room. To style them, she added books and farmhouse decor.

Farm Shelves at Nest of Posies


Open Shelving Ideas

Do you have open shelving in your home?  If so, how do you like to style them?


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  1. I like Open shelving as especially in the tropics it is meaningful esp healthwise i think jennifer .
    Thanks .

  2. The shelf in the kitchen with the utensils hanging below brought back the memory of my home growing up. My Mom had her utensils hanging over our stove. I had forgotten about that until I saw the picture. She still has those utensils and one day my brother and I will probably have to call in a mediator over who gets those beloved reminders of our growing up years. 🙂

  3. I do love open shelves but not the dust that collects on them. I think some houses are dustier than others and I seem to have a dusty one, so my open shelves are limited. I would like to use open shelving in my kitchen but don’t have a blank wall space and would have to remove doors from cabinets in order to do so and there doesn’t seem to be a cabinet in my configuration that lends itself to that without looking like I accidentally left a cabinet door off. I think the look of open shelving is casual (which is good) and gives visitors an insight into the homeowner’s personality (which hopefully is also good). As with most decor style, it’s a matter of what works. Yours is perfect for your home and your authentic farmhouse kitchen.

  4. Each beautiful, each unique. Thanks for gathering them all up! Pinning time!

  5. Marlene Stephenson says:

    I loved that idea above the stove. I’d like to take some of my doors off, but first i need to make them presentable ugh!!! Thanks Jennifer.

  6. Jeanne L says:

    I love your farmhouse sideboard. It always makes me feel warm and comfy whenever I see it on your blog. I want some open shelving but I can never take the plunge. Maybe this article will give me some courage. I have a few spaces available, a few sets of brackets, and plenty of boards I have collected off of our beach. I keep saying I am going to do something but chicken out. Maybe I will finally do it…

  7. I love the look of open shelves. A few years ago, I removed the shelves on my china cabinet and turned that very formal looking piece into a more casual looking open unit. And this week I’m wrestling with the idea of removing a few kitchen cabinet doors. My reason for hesitation with that is because I’m not sure how to cover up the metal ladder like piece that’s used to hold the pins that support the shelves. I may “cheat” and use clear glass on those doors instead of having them be totally open. . . Great post, Jennifer! It’s timely for me and I enjoyed the pictures very much.

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