glass doored cabinet--wood or glass shelves?

eks6426March 9, 2010

I have one cabinet in my kitchen that will have clear glass doors. Inside the cabinet, I plan to put stacks of dishes. The dishes will be nicely arranged, but it is a working cabinet...not just purely decorative.

I have electric configured so I can put a light in this cabinet.

Shelf size would be 38 3/8" X 14 1/4

I am trying to decide between glass or wood shelves. I spoke with the Trainor Glass people today and they tell me that 3/8" thick tempered glass shelving would work fine for my application. Doing glass shelves would allow the light to shine down. The other option is to do wood shelves and put some sort of puck light or maybe the LED strip lights under each wood shelf.

What do you think would look better? What would function better?

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My aunt has glass shelves in a couple of cabinets that she puts her good dinnerware in. It really looks awesome when lit! However, she does feel like she has to be extra careful when putting dishes in and taking them out. She only uses those particular dishes about once a week when they have guests over, so she says it's not that big of a deal. She says it's worth it, though, because they really do look great when lit and she sometimes uses those lights as a nightlight for the kitchen.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 7:58PM
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I happen to like the look of wood shelves behind plain glass doors, but it's much harder to light, as you've alluded to. The old style china cabinets had strip lights in the front that got so hot you couldn't close the door with them on. With cool LEDs, rope lights, or whatever, you have more options.

If it were me, I'd figure out the lighting first and let that drive the decision.

Also, how heavy are your stacks? A dozen of my porcelain kitchen dishes is a pretty heavy stack! The stack of my assorted odd cereal bowls isn't really very heavy. Glass shelves are very strong and are supposed to take weight, but, obviously, are more liable to accidents.

I have a friend who lost a lot of her loveliest things when the shelves of her china cabinet gave way and everything crashed down.

The cabinetmaker talked me into glass for my unlighted, non-display stemware cabinets, and it's fine. I think I'd do wood for stacks of dishes, though. But, as I said, I also like the look. Which, I guess, is the answer. Once you've solved the lighting issues, it's down to what you like better, or gives you less heebie jeebies.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 8:03PM
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We have three glass cabinets. Two of them is for my china . These have glass shelves. The one near my sink (45 degrees) will be having wood shelving because this will be my every day cups and glass. I also have lighting in this one also but very close to the front instead of in the middle. They told me the effect would be nice. I will see tomorrow. Yes!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 8:43PM
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I have glass cabs with glass shelves that are framed in wood. In this way, the light shines through from top to bottom, but the wood enclosures provide support for the glass shelves as well as "definition" to the shelf perimeters.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 9:18PM
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My shelves have wood frames with glass in the middle. Glass shelves just looked too "delicate" for my kitchen but I also wanted the light to shine through. It's worked well for almost five years now.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 9:21PM
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marthavilla and gibby: do you guys have pics of your shelving? i was going to do wood shelves because i love the way they look but now i'm intrigued with the idea of wood framed. sounds a lot easier to light. if you have a chance i'm sure i'm not the only one who wants to snoop! TIA!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 10:20PM
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Here's a picture. Sorry I don't have any close-up of the shelves themselves. You can kind of see what they look like though.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 10:34PM
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Here are mine.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 10:41PM
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:::giggle::: It's not even New Year's!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2010 at 12:19AM
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Oooh, Thanks!! This is one of those many detail things that I have been wondering about too!! Glad to hear the feedback regarding shelfs!! Will take a look for these as well.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2010 at 4:41AM
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Right, Pllog. Not even the first day of Spring! But still far from the whole story. LOL!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2010 at 9:52AM
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Another consideration...We have glass fronts with wood shelves in two areas (bar and coffee bar). We found that if we did not line the wood shelves up with the cross mullions, it looked out of alignment and lost any symmetry. This somewhat limited how we spaced our shelves. If you don't have mullions, no problem.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2010 at 6:34PM
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thanks so much! i don't know if i still have time to consider this or not. it's a great idea!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2010 at 8:14PM
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One thought...if you are going to have stacks of plates, the shelves may be filled to the point that no light will shine through from above anyway. If it were clear glassware, that would be different, but I wouldn't think that much light would get through with the plates.

We have glass-front cabinets with wood shelves and a channel running up the front/side for lighting. We have yet to install the actual lights (wiring is there), so I can't say how well it works, but here are a few photos. Hopefully they will help give you some ideas. :) Good luck!

Photo of my glass front cabs with wood shelves (no lights yet):

Photo of the channel that runs inside of the cabinet where future lights will be installed:

Inspiration photo for cabinet lighting (I can only hope mine will turn out so lovely!):

    Bookmark   March 10, 2010 at 9:35PM
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I have glass shelves in my glass doored cabinets with hockey puck lights in the top on rheostats. The cabinets looks beautiful with the lights on. If someone would explain how to post a picture I'd be happy to put one here. So far, I haven't figured out how. Sorry.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2010 at 10:16PM
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Here they are:

    Bookmark   March 10, 2010 at 10:44PM
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