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Open Shelving Vs. Cabinets: What’s Right For You?

By on Sep 16, 2016
Open Shelving Vs. Cabinets: What’s Right For You?

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We spend more time in the kitchen than any other room in the home. It’s important that both style and function are incorporated. If you’re keeping up with current kitchen trends, you likely already know that shades of white, subway tile and natural elements are in. If you’re trying to achieve this fashionable look yourself, you’re likely considering open shelving.

The idea of having all dishes and containers exposed may be frightening for some, but for others, it can add many benefits to the cooking experience. Before tearing out your current cabinets, you may want to consider the differences between the two and how it will work with your current style.

If you’re ready to change the look of your kitchen, contact a remodeling pro today for up to four free quotes from local contractors in your area.

Rustic Open Shelving

Kitchen Storage Adds Value

When remodeling or preparing your kitchen for a sale, the focal point tends to be the shelving. Homeowners are looking for ample storage space, a commodity in any kitchen. Additionally, these fictional storage areas need to have a great look that enhances the overall design of the kitchen. Many kitchens can be updated simply with a new shelving or cabinet installation. Additionally, the storage you have in your kitchen can add value and even help sell your home when the time comes.

Pros of Open Shelving

There are many benefits to an open shelving concept. For those who collect beautiful dishes, pots and pans, you may be tired of keeping them behind closed doors. These dishes automatically become an important part of your kitchen décor with open shelving, which is a style element in itself.

If you’re looking to expand your storage space, open shelving provides more options to fit the pots and pans that may not otherwise fit in an awkwardly shaped cabinet. It also aids in creating an organization system for both style and function, as anyone who enters your kitchen will see your dishes.

For those remodeling, shelving typically costs less than traditional cabinetry, which could be a great way to save money without sacrificing style.

Minimal Open Shelving

Cons of Open Shelving

One of the biggest drawbacks for some homeowners is the idea that anyone can see their items. With open shelving, you may have to display items that don’t add to the décor of the kitchen.

Maintenance of open shelving is another major concern you may have. A common concern is dust, bugs and debris getting on the dishes. After all, no one wants to find an unwanted surprise in their food. Of course, a solution here is to rinse anything before use, but cabinets do tend to keep cookware clean until you’re ready to use them. If your storage is currently near your stove or sink, consider any splashing of water and grease that may occur as you cook in the kitchen. You’ll also have to dust and clean the shelves more frequently than you would with cabinets.

Contemporary Cabinets

Pros of Closed Cabinets

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Closed cabinets are the traditional style for kitchen storage. As a bonus, cabinets tend to come in many styles so you have plenty of options to match the style of your kitchen. If you're looking to sell soon, refacing your existing cabinets is a great investment potential buyers will love.

Cabinets keep unwanted hands and even paws out of the dishes you use. Small children and pets can easily access plates and cups, possibly damaging them or forcing you to rewash them to get the fingerprints off. If you have many dishes you don’t want seen, a close of the cabinet door will do the trick. It helps to avoid a messy look of the kitchen if you tend to have your cookware cluttered in the same place.

Traditional Cabinets

Cons of Closed Cabinets

Cabinets tend to provide closed storage space that is not very flexible, especially with corner cabinets. They can sometimes limit the amount of usable space available in your kitchen. If you have large pots, pans or bakeware, it can become challenging to fit these larger items in your kitchen.

Additionally, cabinets can tend to be more expensive than open shelving, based on the amount and type of material used. The average cost to install cabinets is $4,173, depending on the materials used.

Have It All

Incorporate Both Styles

If you’re starting a kitchen remodel, deciding between the two can be a tough decision. As you can see, both options hold benefits and drawbacks for you to consider. The good news is that you can incorporate both into your kitchen. Mix contemporary cabinets with chic open shelving to display the dishes you’d like to, and keep cookware hidden. Get the rustic look by using live edge shelving and dark wood cabinets on each end. Whatever your style, you can incorporate both to create a functional look you’ll love.

Dishes That Add Color


Open shelving is a great concept that can be included in any kitchen’s style. If you're looking to update your kitchen with the hottest style, this may be the answer. Mix and match shelves with cabinets to have a truly customizable look for your kitchen.

Looking for timeless cabinet ideas to update your kitchen? Read Kitchen Cabinet Trends That Are Here To Stay to see what style is best for you.

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