If you would like open shelving for everyday dishes or pantry items in your kitchen, but are afraid you’ll spend the better part of everyday fussing with staging your shelves, I have good news for you. You do not need to stage your shelves beyond the first initial set up and they will NOT get messy looking! Scouts honor. You can use your items every day and they’ll look as good next week as they do today. And you don’t have to spend a fortune for fancy dishes or pantry organizers, either.
How is that possible, you ask? You just have to follow a few basic steps to set things up initially and I promise, staging will be unnecessary from that point forward! Your open cabinets can look magazine photo ready (but in a real life sort of way) without even trying.
Here are four basic open shelving tips:
1 Group like things together. Do not try to mix your dishes with food items and baking supplies all on one shelf. It just makes things too complicated and the result will likely be disastrous. Pick ONE category to work with per shelf.
2 Confine the open shelving to featuring things that are attractive to you. Let’s consider the idea of open shelving for dishes. I happen to have all different shades of white dishes that cannot look messy if they tried. They look magazine ready not because I fuss around with them every day, but because they all are all white. I do not worry about perfection in how they are arranged, I like the look of naturally piled dishes. No special stacking techniques are needed. I just group them: dinner plates, salad or dessert plates, bowls, serving dishes and mugs.
This concept will work as long as your dishes coordinate in some way and you like the look of them. It doesn’t matter if they are blue and white, red, yellow, patterned, a rainbow of colors, clear or whatever, just make sure they coordinate with your room and that you like seeing them all together out in the open.
If you have any odd ball pieces that don’t look right or don’t fit, put them in a closed cabinet.
Note: If everything you own is oddball and you hate it all, either buy new pieces you love (over time or all at once, your budget will decide that!) or keep them behind a cabinet door.
My feeling is that life is too short to dislike your dishes. Why eat off of something that makes you gag a little when you look at it? You can love your dishes and not spend a fortune on them.
I love my dishes but they are nothing fancy. I buy white dishes for CHEAP! $2-$3 a piece at HomeGoods or garage sales, and sometimes less. Tops I think I have paid $20 for a large white serving bowl at Target. I look for interesting shapes, and sizes and just add to my collection as I find good deals. Building a collection is half the fun! I might start collecting some other color of dishes someday, but for now (and the last 25 years!) white is what I have. You can build a collection in any color you like.
3 Only stage your shelves once. I attach a few strictly decorative (but inexpensive) plates to the back wall of some of the shelves with sticky tack (or a plate stand) and then in front of the plates I pile up our every day dishes (and they go in and out every day, no staging required). With the “decorative” plates stuck to the back of the cabinet, if the every day dishes are all in the dishwasher, there are a few decorative pieces that remain in the cabinet all the time. Yep, magazine photo ready always with NO EFFORT.
For food products in the open pantry concept, use a few baskets or canisters instead of showing packaging that may or may not be attractive. The baskets are always there looking all fancy (and less than $10 a piece if you bargain shop), and it doesn’t matter what the stuff looks like inside of it! If you don’t like to see something, hide it in a basket or find a closed storage option for it. Again, magazine cover ready at all times without the daily foofing.
One day of staging for many years of beauty? I’d say that is worth it. It really is that EASY to have attractive shelves. I’ve done open cabinets or shelves in every house I’ve lived in, big or small. Would I do something complicated or impossible? Would I spend a few hours a day arranging my cabinets to look all fancy to impress everyone? Um, no. I’m too busy for that. You can come over and surprise me any day of the week and my open cabinets will look just fine. Always. The rest of my house? Not so much.
4For food or baking pantry items, use open shelves for things that can’t look messy like baking pans or things that can be confined to baskets or canisters. I use attractive jars on shelves for flour, sugar, dried beans and grains, and baskets to contain small items. I also use my open kitchen island shelves for metal or glass baking tins, jars and baskets that always appear tidy even with that “working kitchen” look.
The key to using this system effectively is to fill the baskets or jars with items that are used at similar times, like a snack basket for easy to grab snacks or a baking basket with vanilla, baking powder, and chocolate chips or perhaps cookie cutters and frosting bags and tips, so that you could grab an entire basket in order to bake. You don’t have to rifle through all the baskets every time because items are grouped according to use. You could label the basket with a hanging tag if you wanted to. When I bake, I take the appropriate basket down, set it on the kitchen table and take what I need. When I am done, everything is tossed back in the basket and up on the shelf it goes. Easy peasy.
Of course, I have a closed cabinets for all the messy and non-attractive kitchen essentials…not everything is worth displaying!
Do you have a small kitchen?
If you have a small kitchen, put things you do not need every day in the basement, garage, under a bed or in an extra closet. I’ve often had my extra items on basement shelves before, just so I could keep pretty things I used every day in my kitchen. You don’t have to keep things handy if you only use them occasionally–write down where you put your bread machine (or juicer or whatever) and tape it inside a cabinet door. Then you won’t lose track of it! Save your cabinet space for things you use every day and make them pretty!
If you pick even a small cabinet or shelf and fill it with attractive things you use every day, you too can have open shelving without all the fuss! Open storage offers a decorative purpose to every day items. And if you still don’t like open shelving, there is NOTHING wrong with all closed storage. Do what makes YOU happy!
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