Is the Hot 'No Cabinet' Kitchen Trend Really for You?

There are two types of people in this world—those who bare it all and those who lock it up behind closed doors. No, I’m not talking about emotional baggage here, I’m talking kitchens. (Duh.)

(Image via Apartment Therapy)

You may have noticed over the last year that people began embracing the open shelving in the kitchen, exposing their glassware and dishes to all! Some people out there might cringe at that concept, relying on their opaque cabinets to hide the grand disorder that lives inside the kitchen cupboards. But others are taking this opportunity to show off what they have in a very stylized way.

“One thing that can often happen in a kitchen is that it begins to feel too walled,” says East Hampton interior designer, Stephanie DiTullio. “It can be boring to just look at cabinets all around you after a while.” 

Here’s the thing. You just have to know thyself, DiTullio says. And how do you know if open shelves are right for you? Here are 6 clear-cut determinants that can help you decide. 

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1. If you’re clean and tidy.

(Image via The Kitchy Kitchen)

This may be the number one characteristic you need for this design trend to work for you. You must be a diligent put-awayer and also a little, shall we say, anal about the way things line up. No one wants to see poorly stacked plates or glasses that are shoved willy-nilly onto a shelf. 

Also, take into consideration the clean factor. We don’t give enough credit to the practicality of doors on cabinets. They keep dust and any fly-away cooking grease away from our wares. You must be a committed clean-freak to keep it all out in the open. 

2. If you’re good at editing.

(Image via The Hive Mag)

"Deciding to use open shelves in your kitchen is good encouragement to edit down what you have,” says DiTullio. “Here’s a good rule: if you use it everyday, then it can go on open shelves. If you use it every week or more, put it behind a cabinet.” And then if you use it a few times a year, store it in the basement if you simply can’t part with it. When items aren’t touched, moved, or used, they collect more and more dust. Kitchen items in the swiftest rotation work best on open shelves. 

3. If you have a collection to show off.

(Image via Just B.)

“Leaving some open shelves in the kitchen simply adds another design element,” says DiTullio. “You can treat your kitchen shelves like bookshelves and style them up with unique knick knacks or collections.” 

(Image via Beauty & Bedlam)

Perhaps you have embraced the mismatched aesthetic and you collect different coffee mugs? Or maybe you have all white ceramic dishware but they are slightly different? This could be the perfect opportunity to display your hard-earned collection. 

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4. If you need to create an illusion of more space.

(Image via Restless Arrow)

“Open shelves create an airy feel in a kitchen,” says DiTullio. “If you are working with a smaller room or you feel like light is at a minimum, floating shelves help to open up the space, allowing more light to pass through.”

5. If you need to save money on a kitchen remodel.

(Image via House Tweaking)

“This usually isn’t the reason people opt for the open look, but it’s one that could really save you a ton of cash on a kitchen renovation or update,” says DiTullio. You can buy open shelves for a whole lot less than a cabinet system. One rustic option would be to use brackets from a store like Ikea, but then to use reclaimed or lumber yard wood as the shelves. You can stain it yourself to achieve the look you are going for. 

DiTullio recommends that when hanging your own open shelves in the kitchen, make sure to be mindful of the structure (find studs, use butterfly anchors, etc). These shelves will bare a lot of delicate weight and the last thing you want is for them to come crashing down. 

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6. If you love to entertain.

(Image via The Kitchn

If you run a relaxed and friendly home, open shelves are a nice invitation for friends and family to pop into the kitchen and help you (or themselves). If Molly from next door is insisting on setting the table, there is no question as to where the salad plates and soup bowls live. And if Alvin loves to pop over for a glass of wine every so often, he can just grab the glass of his choice—no questions asked. 

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