Open shelving (replacing wall-hung cabinets) has become very popular over the past few years, and I’m curious as to your opinion.
The ever tasteful and hilarious Raina Cox from If the Lampshade Fits posed that question to me last night. Before I answer it though, I need to crank out some effusive praise for the work of La Cox. If the Lampshade Fits is one of my daily must-reads. Poke around on her site and you’ll see why.
Anyhow, onto Raina’s question. I see these magazine spreads too and there’s no doubt that there’s a trend afoot.
Done and styled correctly, open shelves in a kitchen photo spread look terrific. But there are a couple of things at work here.
The photos you see in magazines are styled and propped extensively. They are also lit perfectly and professionally. Styling and photographers’ lighting then gets enhanced further by our pals at PhotoShop so by the time it’s all said and done, what’s left is a cartoon of a kitchen, it’s not real.
Cabinets have doors on them for a couple of reasons. One of those reasons is that they keep dust and airborne cooking goo off your stuff. The other thing cabinet doors do is hide your stuff. Stuff stowed behind a door doesn’t have to be pretty or arranged.
When you replace wall cabinets with shelves you seriously limit your storage capacity and you set yourself up for the additional chore of arranging and dusting your magazine-perfect kitchen shelves.
However, all is not lost.
I love the idea of limiting the number of wall cabinets in a kitchen design and I love the idea of white space in any room, kitchens particularly. In my own designs I lobby tirelessly to go easy on the wall cabinets and instead rely on tall cabinets and efficiency-minded base cabinet inserts for storage. The kitchen in the photo below illustrates the concept perfectly.
The only wall cabinets in that photo are very short and they’re probably where glassware goes. All other dish storage has been shifted to the two-drawer base cabinet on the rear left and into the tall cabinet between the wall ovens and the refrigerator on the back wall. Once all the storage needs were met, there was ample room for two display shelves on the left side of the rear wall. The next photo shows a variation on the same theme.
The two stainless shelves are for display only, the storage heavy lifting gets done by the wall cabinets to the left.
So as lovely a fantasy as this may be:
This is closer to reality.
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