Kitchen shelving ideas – for imaginative display and storage space

Industrial style kitchen with bare brick wall and open wall shelves made of wood

Kitchens are the hub of the home for many of us, but the tricky thing when it comes to kitchen shelving ideas, is that we want it to look amazing, but it needs to be practical too.

Kitchen storage ideas can come in many more forms other than your traditional wall cupboards and cabinets, and sometimes it just takes a bit of imagination to spark a great idea or solution.

Open shelving is a great option if you are the proud owner of an impressive crockery collection, or are a keen cook who appreciates having ingredients close at hand. Having everything on display, however, is not for the faint-hearted as it requires a certain amount of dedication to keep shelves looking smart.

Kitchen shelving ideas to inspire

While traditional base and wall cupboards provide a clean and classic look, open shelving gives an opportunity to add character to the room and display things than mean something to you and your family.

But think about different ways to execute this look and work out which style will best fit your home and how you use your kitchen.

Be inspired by these kitchen shelving ideas, for some seriously stylish storage…

1.  Create a bespoke design with copper piping

Industrial style kitchen with bare brick wall and open wall shelves made of wood

Image credit: Future PLC

This clever homeowner has combined their wooden kitchen shelves with some bespoke lighting using just a length of humble copper piping. Rather than hide the fact they’ve used a fairly basic building material to support their open shelving, they’ve embraced the look to make a feature, even wiring in light fittings to create some wow factor on their walls.

Although you’d need an electrician to help with the lighting, making copper pipe shelving is a top tip for any industrial-style kitchen.

2. Keep dried goods out in the open

A grey kitchen with pale wood open shelving and glass storage jars

Image credit: Garden Trading

If you’re a keen baker or chef and love nothing more than whipping up a showstopper for family and friends, then opt to keep your cooking and baking ingredients in glass jars and canisters. Displayed these on open shelving creates a stylish kitchen pantry idea.

Not only do they look much more pleasing than when in their packaging, it means they are all easily at hand for when you need them, plus you can keep on top of what you might be running low on, so you’re never caught short mid bake.

3. Add mirrored panels to boost the sense of space

Glass shelves hung over a mirror in a coastal style kitchen

Image credit: Future PLC

These glass shelves have been hung over a mirrored panel backing, which makes the kitchen space seem huge. Using just a simple baton of wood to support each shelf gives a fuss-free look and allows the items on each shelf to really do the talking.

Displaying mostly glassware is a clever trick too as more natural light is able to pass through them adding to the light and airy feel of the kitchen. The coastal feel is enhanced with the use of aqua blue accessories and seaside signs.

4. Make it monochrome

Black and white kitchen shelving with patterned tiles on wall

Image credit: Future PLC

Keeping to a cohesive colour palette is one way to ensure your kitchen stays stylish and doesn’t look too chaotic. With simple grey walls, black wire shelving for cook books and cookery magazines and white shelving with black brackets, this homeowner has then chosen all her crockery and storage tins in the same monochrome palette too.

The patterned tiles add interest but don’t become too overbearing as they are still within the same two colours and allows the herb pot to really pop against them.

5. Work in some Japandi style

Simple black wire wall hung shelving with wooden boards displayed Cult Furniture

Image credit: Cult Furniture

Combining both Japanese and Scandinavian styles, the Japandi trend is one that is still big on the interiors scene. With its simple lines and shapes, plus strong use of black, opting for a smaller sized kitchen shelf, makes for a more considered display of your most treasured or most-used items.

Making the most of the wall height rather than width is also a savvy idea if you’re short on space in your own kitchen, and ribbed glass storage jars play perfectly to the Japandi style.

6. Use shelving to trim a splashback

Simple open plan kitchen with marble splasback and long wooden shelf

Image credit: Future PLC

Butting up a wooden shelf against the top of this marble splashback has created a clean divide along the wall of the minimally dressed kitchen. The long floating-style shelf perfectly trims the hard marble and creates a place to display art work, plants and neatly stacked dinnerware.

Although there is space for another shelf above it, the homeowner has decided to keep things simple and let the simplicity of the design become a feature. It has also meant a wall light can be hung which will create a cosy glow above the worktop come evening.

7. Get organised

Kitchen white brick wall

Image credit: Future PLC/ David Brittain

Decanting your cooking supplies into neat matching jars yields a certain amount of satisfaction, and makes it easy to spot if you are running low of any ingredients.

As well as keeping your shelves looking tidy, your dry goods will also be kept airtight. This type of shelving does require some dusting, but we think the styling benefits are worth the extra bit of effort.

8. Team with your worktops

Image credit: Future PLC/ Dominic Bradbury

If you’ve chosen a beautiful timber for your worktops (and wall tiles that complement them), use the same timber for your shelves as it will create a balanced look.

Chocolate brown and duck egg blue is always a winning combo. If you’re opting for coloured tiles, think about what you’ll want to put on the shelves. Here the crockery and other items have been carefully selected to echo the tones of the timber and tiles.

9. Ditch the doors

Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole

Rather than open shelves, an open wall cabinet has a smarter appeal, as the joinery will be in the same style as the rest of your kitchen, but it still allows you to have your finest mugs, tea pot or whatever else you use most to hand.

10. Use every nook and cranny

Cottage kitchen with brick fireplace with seat

Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole

Be imaginative with small spaces. A shallow wall or narrow gap is an opportunity for some clever storage. It may mean a bespoke option rather than an ‘off-the-shelf’ number but any carpenter or handy-person worth their salt should be able to make shelves to fit.

11. Go with wall-to-wall shelving

Grey kitchen with open wall to wall shelving

Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole

Turn storage into a stylish feature with a wall-to-wall shelving system. In this instance the timber has subtle grey tones in the grain that tie in perfectly with the cabinetry.

12. Consider the island for storage

white kitchen with pale wooden cabinets

Image credit: Future PLC

Shelving isn’t just for walls. Filling one side of an island with open shelves in the same material as wall cabinets is a great way to bring colour and interest to your kitchen scheme.

13. Use reclaimed wood

Repurposed scaffolding board kitchen shelving

Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme

For a country-style kitchen, modern shelving may look out of place. Why not have a shelf built from reclaimed wood to add instant character and provide the perfect ledge for your rustic bowls and utensils? This country kitchen idea suits both rural and urban settings.

14. Keep it simple

White kitchen with open shelving above sink

Image credit: Future PLC/ David Giles

Break up a bank of units with simple shelving in the same colour as your cabinets. Brackets in the same material as your flooring and kitchen worktops will create a calm feel that’s easy on the eye.

15. Go modular

Kitchen shelving ideas

Image credit: Future PLC/ David Giles

A vintage work bench makes a great alternative for kitchen storage. To keep it looking neat, use a row of boxes to store different things, like baking utensils and equipment, so you can easily find them when you need them.

16. The finishing touch

 white country kitchen

Image credit: Future PLC/ Simon Whitmore

Storage isn’t an issue in this kitchen but the wire wall rack provides the perfect finishing touch. Its dark metal tones pick up with the slate flooring and grey patterned wall tiles, as well as offering a space for tea and coffee storage.

17. Blend with your cabinetry

 minimalist white kitchen

Image credit: Future PLC/ David Giles

Shelves in the same shade as your cabinets have a uniformity that will appeal to those who like things to look smart and ship shape. The subtle grey backdrop shown here offers endless opportunities for arranging shelfies (if that’s how you like to spend your time – no judgement).

18. Create a collector’s corner

Pale blue kitchen with red star print tiles behind oven

Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole

If you love collecting things such as vintage jars, pretty vases or colourful crockery, why hide them away in a cupboard? Make a space where you can enjoy seeing them every day.

19. Choose a dresser

Dining room with open shelving

Image credit: Future PLC/ David Brittain

If you love the look of a traditional welsh dresser, but don’t have the room, why not wall-mount just the top section of a unit? Paint the dresser top in the same colour as your kitchen cabinets, and use it to display mugs, glasses, and plates.

20. Create a display

White kitchen with shelf above white metro tiles

Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole

Add a high shelf above a splashback to display artwork, as well as attractive tins, jars, and food packaging. Shelf space doesn’t have to be purely practical; here kitchen-themed framed prints add personality to the room. Re-use pretty tins as utensil holders, and old glass bottles as bud vases.

21. Make the most of an unused corner

Kitchen shelving ideas

Image credit: Future PLC/ Lizzie Orme

Corners in kitchens should never be ignored. They provide a sneaky space for storage and are a great place to display cookbooks, enamel crockery and copper accents, as seen here. Make use of even the slimmest spaces by installing shelves that fit snug between two walls.

22. Have it made to measure

Kitchen shelving ideas

Image credit: Future PLC/ Jason Ingram

Make use of the width of a whole wall with bespoke shelves like this design, which mixes display shelves with cubbies, so you can show off decorative items and hide away everyday mess, too. Plus, with a bespoke design, it’s easy to coordinate it to the style of the room with small details such as wood coving or trims, or help it blend into the wall by using a uniform colour.

23. Factor in standalone shelving

Kitchen shelving with red EAT letters

Image credit: Future PLC/ Simon Whitmore

A bookcase or storage unit can now come in an assortment of sizes, materials and colours or even be customised to fit with your own decoration. It is an invaluable piece of furniture and it can be used in any room of the house. To create a little more interest on your wall look for asymmetrical designs and for trickier spaces there are many narrower options available, perfect for popping between two windows. Don’t feel compelled to just use them for books, they make the perfect display cabinet too.

Is open shelving in a kitchen a good idea?

Open shelving in a kitchen is highly effective,  in more ways than one. As Tom Howley, Design Director of Tom Howley kitchens explains: ‘Having items that you use every day on display is a great time saver. You go straight to the things you need’.

‘It also deters the clutter that might build if you keep your items closed away behind cupboard doors. It’s sometimes too easy to stack paperwork in the same space as your breakfast bowls. You won’t do that if the world can see what you’re up to so it does promote a level of organisation too. Organised kitchen cabinets make meal planning and grocery shopping easier because everything has a place and you can see at a glance what you need to use up, or stock up on.’

Open shelving is a great option if you are the proud owner of an impressive crockery collection, or are a keen cook who appreciates having ingredients close at hand. Having everything on display, however, is not for the faint-hearted as it requires a certain amount of dedication to keep shelves looking smart.

Kitchens with rows of base and wall cabinets provide the ample storage that most of us need but it’s the open shelving that gives our kitchens character.

Those shelves are where we display the items we use most often or the pieces we love the most, like the dog-eared cookbooks with our favourite recipes or a cherished casserole dish passed down from a grandparent. The items we have on display gives a glimpse into our habits and our lives, so it’s worth giving some thought to what to we keep out and what we put away.

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