Types of shelving
When considering kitchen shelving design ideas, the first place to start is with the types of shelving available to you.
Rows of shelves, mounted on the wall in place of cabinets, will help open out the space and leave it feeling bigger and airier, whilst still providing much-needed storage.
This is a common fix for a dark or crowded kitchen where you don’t want to replace the units; removing the top cabinets and replacing with shelves is an easy way to transform your room.
A free-standing unit of shelves is another easy fix if you have space to accommodate one.
Units can be as big or as small as you need for your kitchen and, depending on the design of the room, you may have more than one in different areas depending on your needs.
Shelving units come in different styles, so whether you choose country farmhouse, shabby chic or super modern, you're sure to find a shelving unit that suits your vibe.
If your style is more industrial chic, consider shelving racks instead; where shelving units tend to be made from wood, racking is usually metallic with open sides for a more utilitarian feel.
The next step is to decide where in the kitchen you’ll be installing your shelving.
This decision may be made for you by the size or shape of the room, but it always pays to think creatively and consider a few different options before you commit.
As well as providing much-needed storage, open shelving in the kitchen also draws the eye. So use it to frame and draw attention to features that you’re particularly proud of, like a great view out of your kitchen window or your beloved range cooker.
If your kitchen is full of nooks and crannies, open shelving can help you maximise space by creating usable corners without boxing off wall space.
Having your shelves above your kitchen counters can also help you use the space more effectively, meaning everything you need is in easy reach while you’re cooking or preparing food.
Kitchen shelf ideas: styles
Now that you know the types of units available to you, and where to place your shelves in the kitchen, let's take a look at some styles you might not have thought of.
If you're going for a rustic country farmhouse look, or if your style's a little more eclectic, live-edge shelving is perfect.
Live-edge shelves are basically slabs of reclaimed wood where the natural pattern of the wood and some of the bark is still visible.
This style of shelf is often cut into interesting shapes that make the most of the natural look (usually to make sure that some of the knots in the wood are kept) rather than being cut with a straight edge.
They're more expensive than standard manufactured shelves, but if you want to make a statement and create a stunning focal point for the room, live-edge shelves are definitely worth a try.
Remember that open shelving isn't just limited to rustic style kitchens - there's an option to suit every aesthetic.
For a contemporary look, consider slim shelving units in luxe metallic shades such as gold, copper or brass. These are perfect when used in a mostly neutral kitchen as a focal piece. Or complement your shelves with similar metallic tones throughout the rest of the space for a more cohesive feel.
The final design touches
If you really want to make a design feature out of your open shelves, there are a few things you can do depending on the style of your kitchen.
Shelves in a country-style kitchen might benefit from a lick of paint to really finish them off; choose a colour which complements but doesn’t blend into the wall to make your shelves really stand out.
For a truly rustic feel, use chalk paint or gently sand the painted shelves once you’ve finished.
Alternatively, if your kitchen is more of a contemporary space, adding some lighting will really make your shelves into a feature.
Use task lighting or spotlights to illuminate your open shelving and let them really shine.
Accessorising your shelving
Once you’ve decided on the type and placement of your kitchen shelves, you can get to the fun bit - accessorising!
It doesn’t have to be expensive, either. There are plenty of options for dressing your shelves using your existing kitchen items.
For example, why not hang your favourite mugs from hooks on the edge of your shelves for a country kitchen feel?
It may take you a few tries to get the exact look you’re going for with your open shelving.
The best way to get to the final look is to put everything on the shelves as you’d imagined it, take a step back and then adjust as necessary.
Consider grouping together items of a similar colour or with contrasting shades on the same shelf for a fun focal point to your kitchen.
Alternatively, theme your items by function rather than form.
For example, you could create a coffee station on your shelves by placing your coffee maker alongside other essentials like coffee beans and mugs.
Not only is this a stylish storage solution, but you’ll thank yourself for it on early mornings.
In a sleek, modern kitchen, you could also make a bar area on your shelves by displaying a couple of bottles of your favourite alcohol with a small collection of glasses, so you’re ready to host at a moment’s notice.
You could even add a metallic cocktail shaker or a book of cocktail recipes to the shelf if you fancy playing the mixologist!
Adding plants or prints is always a fail-safe design trick for bringing life and personality to your kitchen shelves. Whilst ceramic items like bowls and vases can break up collections of other items, giving you a space to display the pieces that you love.
You can even make a feature out of everyday essentials; olive oil is easy to buy in pretty bottles, and salt and pepper grinders are both handy to have in the kitchen as well as being a potential design piece.
Open shelves can easily become cluttered, however, so invest in some storage containers to keep smaller items organised.
Baskets are good for storing miscellaneous items that need a home. Try decanting packets into mason jars for a more cohesive look. Pasta, rice and cereal can all become a design feature when placed in a more stylish container.