Est. 2011

October 18, 2018

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How To Style Open Kitchen Shelves for Autumn

As you may know from Instagram, we recently gave our kitchen some much-needed updates. We’ve been in our home for almost 5 years, and hadn’t touched the kitchen. Our house had just been flipped when we bought it, and since the fresh paint and brand new appliances and cabinets were tolerable, so we kept it as-is. But the light lime green walls and light sage green cabinets were wearing on me. One corner of our kitchen had actually been painted white when I did DIY shelving, but we never extended the white paint into the remainder of the kitchen. So, we haphazardly decided a few Saturdays ago that we were going to redo the kitchen that weekend.

Update the kitchen in a weekend, how hard could it be? Joe ran to the store for some paint and other supplies, while I focused on emptying the kitchen contents into the dining room. We decided we’d tear down the upper cabinets since that had been the plan all along, whenever we got around to repainting. The cabinets came down, and with them some of the walls and some of the ceiling. And our range hood, which was an under-cabinet range hood. Suddenly, we had a larger project at hand. Walls and ceiling needed repairing, which takes time. And we needed a new range hood. We’re actually still in the market for a new range hood – everything is too big for our space.

Fast forward 3 weeks…We ripped out the cabinets, repaired our damaged walls and ceiling repainted the walls, decided on and then built our open shelves, ripped out our black granite countertop and replaced it with IKEA butcher block.

Deciding on a style for our open shelves was one of the most difficult decisions. I’d pinned a million kitchen images, but when it came down to figuring out what was going to work best for us, in our 100-year-old tiny farmhouse, I had to do some serious soul searching. I decided on IKEA Ekby Valter brackets, painted the same color as our walls and the shelves, a custom color my sister made and has affectionately named “Tom Ford White” after the Tom Ford ad she color matched. The shelves themselves are simple 10″ pine boards from the hardware store. Someone coined the shelf style “modern Quaker” and I’m kinda digging that description!

Our full kitchen reveal will come soon, but we still have a few details to work through and finalize – like the range hood. So for now, here are some photos of our new open shelves. I adore having open shelves in the kitchen; they’re something I’ve wanted for almost five years. They are beautiful and they encourage me to stay minimal.

How To Style Open Kitchen Shelves – Tips & Tricks

 

  1. Don’t Overthink It
    Don’t stress over how you’re styling your kitchen shelves. Ultimately, they need to work. They need to be functional shelves that hopefully also provide beauty and inspiration. You might style and restyle for a few weeks before you figure out exactly what is going to work for you! My current shelves actually look quite differently than the shelves in these photos, because I got rid of a few things and added a few other things, and moved things around in a way that is serving me in my kitchen, and providing a beautiful backdrop to our daily kitchen living. Yes, you want them to be beautifully styled, but the styling will change over time, and ultimately, your shelves need to serve you.
  2. Need Help Choosing Items? Use The Principles from A Capsule Kitchen
    If you have a lot of “extras” in your kitchen and don’t know where to start or what to put on “display,” consider applying the principles of A Capsule Kitchen! A Capsule Kitchen is a checklist I developed earlier this year to help curate the essentials for a minimalist kitchen. You probably don’t need everything that’s currently in your kitchen. And you certainly don’t need to display everything that’s currently in your kitchen. Go through your kitchen and ask yourself some hard questions: Do I use this every day? Every week? Does this item deserve a space in my kitchen? Using open shelves (and eliminating a lot of the “hidden” storage) in your kitchen will force you to think about what you do have and where it will be stored, if not on the open shelves. Not everything needs to be on display, and start by minimizing your kitchen!
  3. Add Subtle Seasonal Touches
    Grab a vase or a small bottle and fill it with foraged autumnal grasses. Or pick up an extra pumpkin or winter squash at the market and place it on top of a stack of plates, or put a few on display in a serving bowl. Buy a color other than orange or bright yellow. Dark green, light blue. These items will hint towards Autumn without cluttering your shelves, taking up valuable real estate, or adding too much color!
  4. Use a Neutral, Natural Palette
    The best way to achieve a minimal, unified look is to use a neutral, natural color palette. For this rendition of my kitchen shelves, I decided to only have whites, browns, and dark green/black. If I used colorful items or a broader palette, it would look way too cluttered and sloppy. This way, I can include more items while keeping it subdued. Bring in some yummy textures without adding too much color. I used some very textural ceramic plates, autumn grasses, a small basket that houses garlic, and some other ceramic and wooden items. Just enough to provide interest and make the shelves unique!
  5. Start With The Essentials and Use Items of Varying Sizes
    Start with the essentials: the plates and bowls you’ll be using at mealtime every day, then some larger serving pieces, etc. Spread these out in a way that makes sense for your movement throughout the kitchen. We use our low, wide pasta bowls the most frequently, so they are front and center. Then add in other small pieces you can’t live without and want within arms reach: pinch bowls, cream pitcher, basket of garlic, vase or larger pitcher. I use small pinch bowls for Jojo’s meals, condiments, salt & pepper, and a host of other uses. They get a prominent place. Then add in smaller details: natural decor for the seasons, butter keeper, sugar bowl. I don’t take sugar in my tea or coffee, but I love having it very handy for guests, it’s right there on top of a stack of less-frequently used salad plates.

And that’s it! Five super simple, practical steps for styling your kitchen shelves. It’s not really a science – it’s an art. An art that takes practice, and depends on your household needs, your desire for your kitchen space, and your particular taste! These shelves (and all my kitchen shelves) have to be VERY practical. The items that I chose to display on my shelves are beautiful, yes, but they are the items I’m using in my kitchen day in, day out. You may have a purely decorative shelf, and then functionality doesn’t have to be such a concern.

I hope this helps you with your shelf styling – PLEASE let me know if you have any questions about anything or sources for any of the items on my shelves!

Here are a few of my favorite things for including on kitchen shelves:

And some of our favorite cookbooks that made the cut:

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