finished shelves

Small Space Solutions: Open Shelving

I decided to hop onboard with a trend I have been observing a lot lately.  Not that it is anything new (and our grandmothers are probably shaking their heads at us), but open shelving is all the rage.  There are several reasons we decided to try some open shelving in our kitchen:  space, visual ‘breathing’ room, storage and organization.

Although I would love to have every one of my cupboards organized and arranged so beautifully that I could put up open shelves in the whole kitchen, sadly, they are not.  Since that may not ever be the case, I decided to pick one cupboard that I felt would make the most difference in the look, feel and function of the kitchen.  I picked the cabinet above the dishwasher, by the sink and between the window and sliding door.

This is where we store our everyday dishes, and the items in that cupboard stay relatively organized.  Obviously I will not be adding open shelving where I store my plastic food storage containers (the bane of organizing).  Because they are our everyday dishes, they will also not get the chance to get dusty like less frequently used items could.  Another reason I chose this particular cabinet is that having the sides open allows people to see ‘through’ the shelves and make the whole space appear more open.

After researching open shelving for a crazy amount of time, I decided I liked the look of a very simple white shelf and bracket found at IKEA.  We made a quick family shopping trip to Salt Lake last weekend and I was finally able to pick up my awesome shelves.  I chose the 11+inch deep shelves for this wall because I wanted them to be as deep as the other cabinets in the kitchen and to be able to hold large dinner plates.

Jer and I took down the cabinet the night before we went to IKEA to make sure the wall behind it wasn’t a total mess.  As I was repainting the kitchen, I noticed once again how poorly executed a soffit removal had been, especially above the cabinets, and I started to worry that the open shelves would just draw more attention to the lumps and bumps on the wall.  After removing the cabinet, I was pleasantly surprised that the wall was in decent shape, and my husband assured me that we could make it work.  So, I filled the holes and painted over the very dark brown that was underneath.  As I stepped back to admire my painting job, I sure loved the feeling of openness removing the cabinet provided.  (It also helped that all the clutter was removed from the countertop).

To get a feel for spacing and the number of shelves we wanted, I put painter’s tape on the wall.  I wanted to make sure there was a balance with the other cabinets in the room, so my new shelves wouldn’t look like they didn’t belong.  I decided three shelves was a nice fit, even though Jer was pushing for four.  After putting them up, he agrees that three fits really well.  We did decide to extend the shelves clear to the edge of the sliding door, because we eventually want to extend the counter a little further out also.  Doing that also allowed for a sturdier and more weight-bearing shelf because we knew it was truly in a stud.  (Anyone else have trouble getting consistent readings on a stud finder?)

For around $75 and about half an hour’s work (including cutting the boards to size), we now have a chic new look and feel to our kitchen.  I love how fresh and open the shelves are.  It is also amazingly fun and easy to change out a few accessories and add a pop or two of color to our white dishes.

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