Join me here for the great debate! Open shelving – is it still in, or on its way out? Cruise through images of open shelving, hear all the opinions, and see if you can decide for yourself.
It was back in 2015 when I noticed a spike in my blog traffic directed at one of my kitchen posts. I wondered what was causing it so I hunted down the link that was directing folks to my site. Turns out it was a very popular real estate website, and the first thing I noticed was the title “Home trends that are here to stay” . . . or something to that matter. Of course, I thought to myself, “surely, they have nothing but good things to say about my home”. (wink)
How disappointed I was when I came to find out they were using my open shelf images to claim that open shelving like mine was going to start disappearing in 2016. It was a fad, a trend, and on its way out.
Well, friends, open shelving hasn’t gone anywhere. But the thought sparked some of my curiosity and I started wondering what others thought about open shelving, so I started bringing up the topic on social media from time to time. I’ll save my opinionated thoughts until the end, but what I found in my asking were some very strong opinions on the matter that caused me to think, “Is open shelving still in, or on its way out”?
Please take a minute to view these 20 lovely open-shelf images I’ve gathered from around the web (all sources below images), as I share some of the opinions I’ve heard on open shelving. Then feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments below, as I welcome further discussion on the topic.
Source: Our House
OPINION #1: ALL THAT DUST
The biggest complaint I heard about open shelving was the dust. For a lot of busy homemakers, the less dusting they have to do, the better. Many are concerned that by the time they got around to using what was on the shelves, they would be dirty and need to be washed before use, adding more work to the load. Dust-o-phobia folks would prefer everything to be tucked in safely behind cupboard doors.
Source: Nicole Davis Interiors
OPINION #2: CREATIVE DISPLAY
For those who were all for open shelving, the main reason to love it was for the creativity and uniqueness it brings to their homes. Many love their collections of pretty dishes and treasures and want to display them for all to see. Others like to use open shelving to add interest, more places to decorate, and the ability to switch things around for the changing seasons.
Source: Earnest Home Co.
OPINION #3: NOT THAT TIDY
I heard more than once that it would be difficult for homeowners to stay that organized and tidy and make sure everything on the open shelves was “just perfectly so”, otherwise they put themselves at risk of going crazy bonkers every time an item was 1/2 inch off its designated styled spot. All type A personalities unite!
Source: Design Sponge
OPINION #4: A STYLE THAT HAS STOOD THE TEST OF TIME
A thoughtful reader pointed out to me that open shelving is a century-old way of life for both the high and lower classes. Whether it was a bustling kitchen full of service members or a small home in the countryside, open shelving added style, ease, and function to all kitchens and homes for ages. All that was confirmed while watching Downton Abbey 😉
OPINION #5: LACK ALL THE PRETTY THINGS
I giggled every time I heard someone joke that they were going to love displaying their plastic Dora the Explorer dishes and Spiderman cups, for all to admire. It was evident a lot of the open shelf naysayers understood it wasn’t something feasible for their family lifestyle, even if they admired the pretty pictures.
Source: Foster House
OPINION #6: EASE AND FUNCTION
Looks aside, the idea of open shelving appeals to many for ease and function. Need to plate up? It’s just a reach away. Where did I put that favorite cup? Oh yes, right in front of my face. Let’s all take a moment and calculate how much time you could save a day if you didn’t have to “open and shut”, mmkay? 😉
And then many had mentioned how much quicker and easier it is to unload the dishwasher when all you have to do is reach up (or down).
Source: Affordable Kitchen and Baths
OPINION #7: TOO CLUTTERED
For some, open shelving felt too cluttered. For these folks, a wall of cupboards and clean countertops is their idea of style. No one needs to know the reality of what’s going on behind doors anyway. Or the phrase, “out of sight, out of mind” suits this opinion well.
Source: Country Living
OPINION #8: SOOOOOOO PRETTY
Most everyone could agree that the images they see online are so so pretty to look at. Some are inspired to rip down cupboards, others remove cupboard doors just to find some way to incorporate open shelving in their builder-grade homes. It seems those who love the look would stop at nothing to make sure they have some lovely open shelving in their homes, if just for the sake of a pretty picture.
Source: AKA Designs
OPINION #9: KITCHEN HELP
One commenter was adamant that her kids be able to help put away all the dishes and tidy up the house. If the dinnerware is beyond their tiny reach then all the dish doing falls to mama and papa. This seemed like reason enough for her to keep all dishes down at a child’s level – which like it or not – means zero open shelving.
Source: Lark & Linen
OPINION #10: RIGHT IN LINE WITH THE FARMHOUSE TREND
It’s no secret that farmhouse style is hot hot hot – whether or not you live in a Farmhouse. Displaying dishes and treasured keepsakes on an open shelf is one of the easiest ways to achieve that farmhouse charm. But perhaps the question behind this opinion is, will Farmhouse style fade away with all the other current trends??? Hmmm???
Source: Farmhouse 5540
So there you have it. 10 Opinions on open shelving in the home.
Now the question remains, “Is open shelving still in, or on its way out?” Where do your thoughts stand? Please feel free to share with all of us in the comments below.
Source: Kelly Elko
Do you wanna know my thoughts on the matter??? Well of course you do 😉
“Is open shelving still in, or on its way out?” My answer . . . who cares.
If you love it, gotta have it, dream about it – then do it! If it’s not for you – then keep those cupboard doors right where they belong, and that’s ok!
You see, when I read that article back in 2015, it didn’t phase me one bit. It did not sway my opinion or change my preferences because when we are making a home, our home, none of what the world says or dictates should influence you so much that you put aside the things you love.
Source: Jen Loves Kev
Now for the record, I LOOOOOVE open shelving – like, can’t get enough, must-have in just about every room. For me, it is a bit nostalgic (like grandma’s house), a bit design preference, and everything everyone else already said above for why they love open shelving.
Must. Have. Open. Shelves.
Most of the online images I am inspired by having some sort of open shelf concept, as I just adore the curated character it brings to a home. I am also confident that I’ll love it for a lifetime, despite the world’s trends.
But I also completely understand all the hesitations to do open shelving in your home, which is why I have a few pointers for those who may like the look but are afraid it won’t work in their home.
Maybe the open shelves in the kitchen aren’t suited to your lifestyle. Maybe you don’t have a curated look of pretty dishes to display just yet. How about thinking outside of the kitchen box! Open shelves can work in bathrooms, living rooms, bedrooms, and just about anywhere in the home. Kitchens are high-function areas, and it’s very possible to open shelving that won’t work in there for you.
Source: Ella Claire
Ya, dust is inevitable. And you will need to dust those shelves every 2 or so weeks (I go longer than that if I’m being honest). But here is a thought – install glass-front cupboards, then you get the look without the dust.
Source: Lily Pad Cottage
Or, consider both! A wee bit of open shelf, and a wee bit of glass front cupboards + plenty of solid cupboard doors to hide the unsightly items.
Source: So Much Better With Age
Only do open shelving for your everyday dishes. The items we have on our open shelves in the kitchen are the items getting used frequently, which prevents a lot of dust from accumulating and keeps everything a reach away. I’m also really bad at shoving clutter in cupboards and open shelving forces me to keep things tidy and only keep what we need. I embrace that kind of pressure on myself and also embrace a bit of imperfection in the placement of the items. I don’t need them exactly where I put them the first time to be happy with my shelves.
Which brings me to another tip.
Before I make a purchase, I often think to myself “would this look good on a shelf”, which makes me consider beauty and function in everything I bring into our home. It’s a goal I constantly aim for.
But for those wondering, yes, we have plenty of colorful plastic things and chunky electric appliances. That’s where those cupboard doors come in handy! Open shelving is most definitely not an all-or-nothing concept. You can have a little of both and be perfectly content.
For families, we do need to consider our lifestyle with kids. I certainly have my kids empty the dishwasher and help with dishes. For everyone under 11, I instruct them to just stack the breakable items on the countertop, and I quickly put them up when they are done. But there was a time when I only had melamine white dishes on our open shelves, and no one knew the wiser. They were kid-friendly and white goes with everything in my book. This is my soapbox, but you don’t have to ever put aside your design preferences just because you have little kids. It just takes a bit more creativity which is rewarding in its own right.
Thanks for sticking around as we took a deep dive into open shelving. I hope you’ve come away with some helpful tips and felt inspired by the images. But now I want to hear from you and how you feel about this concept. Your comments are always appreciated and I read every single one!