Have you put in open shelves and then regretted that decision?

laughablemomentsApril 7, 2013

Hello all,
I can't help but stopping to admire beautiful open shelves in pictures. I love the simplicity of having dishes out in the open since they are on and off the shelves 3 meals per day, 7 days a week in our home.

But... has anyone put them in and then longed for the everything behind closed doors, nothing showing look?

Has anyone found it too difficult to keep their dishes looking neat, clean, etc?

Or, have you been surprised by just how much you love them?

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We put in a lot of open shelves in our kitchen remodel (it's been almost a year now). I still love it and expect I always will. I cook a lot and the items on the shelves are things I use constantly so they don't have a chance to get dusty. Also they tend to be larger items like colanders and mixing bowls that are fairly easy to keep tidy. I love being able to see and grab items without opening doors. Final item is that the kitchen is a separate room and has limited visibility from the rest of the house.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 10:44PM
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2 1/2 years later and I still love my open shelves.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 10:58PM
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2 years now and I still love them too!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 11:24PM
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I put open shelves in my last kitchen, nine years ago. I kept wine glasses there. Not a great idea as I didn't use the glasses enough and when I had the cabinet light on you could see dust (I store my glasses upside down, so no dust in the glasses at least.)

I did my current kitchen three years ago. More open shelves, but I only store frequently used items there. So no dust issues at all. I love the look and the ease of access for daily use items.

If you don't need the exta storage fom upper cabs I think open shelves are a great option. They lighten up a room and are very convenient. And they look great.

Lots of resistance to them on GW I find though.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 11:56PM
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Ditto what everyone said, almost a year no regrets. Love Love Love them. We have our everyday used dishes plus canisters and just a few less used items. So easy to keep clean. No regrets at all. Our kitchen is light and airy and I love not having to open up a door in most of my day.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 3:33AM
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Have some open shelves for about 3 years now and planning more in this next kitchen. Ditto the ease of having things at hand.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 4:02AM
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Mine have been up for 7 years and I love them. I read the most recent thread and didn't bother to post as there were such obstinate comments :) There is NEVER any grease ever on any of my stuff on the open shelves and they are adjacent to the gas 36 " cook top . The reason is I have a very very good 1400 cfm hood . Anyone that gets any grease at all on anything in their kitchen didn't get as good a hood as they thought they got. It is that simple. We stirfry Chinese and also have a built in deep fat fryer that we use..so believe me the hood gets used and gets greasy ! But it stays there.

We use almost all of the stuff on the shelves daily. But not the top most shelf. I get up there and clean it about every 6 months. The only thing is a very minor amount of dust..that is it.

So before you get open shelves make sure you have a very very good hood and use it every single time you cook. I have a Tradewind 54 " 1400 cfm with remote roof mount.

Hope to see your pics soon ! c

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 5:05AM
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I find open shelves to put form over function.

As others have mentioned, if you do not use the items on the shelf often dust will accumulate on the items. However what others have not mentioned is that dust will accumulate on the shelf itself unless you dust the shelf.

With regard to grease, sure if you have a 1400 cfm hood that is used often you won't have that issue, but most people do not have a hood that powerful.

I think the comment about open shelves being easier is a bunch of bunk. It really does not take all that much effort to open a cabinet door.

All in all, open shelves have their plusses and minuses. In the right kitchen they can be nice, but I would never sacrifice upper cabinets for open shelves in a kitchen without a lot of storage and I would not put them near a range.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 6:25AM
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6 1/2 years. Zero regrets. Love them.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 7:15AM
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I should add that we don't have any grease issues either.

Good call asking the people that actually have had open shelves for years what their view is. I dust my shelf itself every two weeks. It takes about 60 seconds. In my kitchen the dust/grease question is a non-issue, so I get both form and great function.

But I dont need the additional storage, in some kitchens there is no choice. But many kitchens have too many cabs IMO. If you have them, you will fill them. Whether you need to or not.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 8:58AM
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9 years, including plate racks which are the greatest. No dust, grease or mess. Eurosplashed two main walls which never need repainting either.

I love the sense of openness this style gives which is why most of the modern kitchens don't have uppers.

To get there, I've gone through several rounds of "editing" what's in my kitchen. I had two huge house sales to sell off what I wasn't using and donated the rest. No sense trying to jam stuff I rarely ever use into the kitchen.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 9:00AM
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Sochi has a great point as does rococo...edit out all that STUFF !! Way way too many drawers and cabs and pullouts etc. Our son is a top chef and he has so few "things " in his kitchen that it is an inspiration. Less is more when outfitting a good workable space.
I have 10 drawers in my kitchen....only 6 of them are large...30". One is 1/2 empty. I have all glass door uppers and they are 48" tall. 3 of them in total and the top shelf in each is decorative only. So very very little.

rg put it well. EDIT !! c

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 9:48AM
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Realism- dust will accumulate everywhere, if your uppers do not extend to the ceiling you will have a ton of dust up there that is difficult to clean. It really is not that hard to dust open shelving. Takes 15 minutes, you can even just run the less use items threw the dish every few months too if you wish. Just as it is really not that hard to open an extra door it really is not that hard to dust a couple shelves every so often IMO.

It really comes down to aesthetics, I also think open shelving holds as much storage as regular cabinets. You just have to pick and choose what you want opened to the kitchen. Dishes great, tupperware no. I have a five foot run of two shelves and can store almost as much as if they were uppers, for much cheaper. If you like the look go for it. The great thing about open shelving is that you an always ad uppers later if you are really hating them. Easy.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 9:55AM
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Circus Peanut

People who have never actually had and used open shelves need not submit their opinion, thanks. Bunk is as bunk does. ;-)

Love mine, past and current.

In our last kitchen we actually removed the doors to an upper cabinet to achieve open shelves, so it was a great test case for doors/no doors. We kept glasses there, and it's surprisingly more functional without doors, since you are often reaching for a glass with the other hand full of whatever it is you're going to pour. The shelves get no dirtier or dustier than the back 6" of your countertop.

I do heartily agree with the points made above about editing one's collection of stuff. When I moved in with my minimalist partner, I had to bite the bullet and really get rid of duplicates, extraneous and purely sentimental items. Hard as that was, with all the various emotional layers we tend to attach to our things, I'm so glad I did it. Never looked back.

We found the open shelves particularly useful for glasses and coffeemaking supplies. Don't think I'd put the Christmas Stollen pans on an open shelf. Open shelves are for real daily use, not for pretty ordered display. (Not that they're mutually exclusive, and some of us find stacks or rows of beloved dishware quite attractive no matter how asymmetrical or un-color-matched they may be.)

If you're the kind of person who wants "display" in your kitchen, open shelves might not be for you.
If you're OCD, open shelves might not be for you.
If you don't have items that see regular daily use, open shelves might not be for you.
If you don't have adequate ventilation, open shelves might not be for you.
If you live on a farm, or where there is lots of dry dust, open shelves might not be for you.
If you're Howard Hughes, open shelves are definitely not for you.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 10:10AM
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Great points cp and ratrem! I just popped back in to mention ventilation. cp stated " adequate" and that is what it comes down to. I have what is adequate for what we cook. No one else needs this amount of cfm's unless they are doing similar cooking. My point is that if you have grease anywhere in your kitchen then you don't have adequate ventilation for the way YOU cook. It is that simple. You can have open shelves or closed cupboards..makes no difference . If there is grease anywhere..on any surfaces adjacent or all the way across the room then you didn't get or don't currently have adequate ventilation. Perhaps you have it and don't use it due to the noise etc. Then you didn't get or don't have adequate ventilation. It should be quiet and it should take care of ALL grease. I sure wish more folks would think about what /how they cook first and foremost and get what will work for them.

Great thread..I hope the OP will check back and that this is all helpful. c

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 10:19AM
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Circus Peanut

Brief digression:

Hey C -- I've been meaning to ask you which model of Trade-Wind vent insert you have, with which fan. I'm in the market and looking for something made in the US if possible. Thanks!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 10:22AM
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Wow, such good discussion everyone, thank you so much! It's awesome to hear from folks who've had open shelves for a while and are still loving it. : ) Many of you have posted some of the beautiful pictures of open shelves that I've admired.

Have to go feed the family (Meal 2 of 3 for the day, LOL) Will pop back in later when I have more time...

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 12:48PM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

I have some open shelves. A couple of them are old end-cabinet rounded-edge style for display of cookbooks and vintage pottery. There is a 'cup rail' next to the stove--it holds pint jars with herbs and spices, but would be perfect for often-used cups and glasses since it is also over the DW. No problem with grease with current vented hood, but in the old kitchen with recirculating hood, I had to wash the jars every few months.

I took off a couple of doors, and painted the insides of an upper cabinet to see if I liked the open storage. In my kitchen it looked like a cabinet with no doors, so after a few weeks I replaced the doors. I had big plans to have a long open shelf on the other side of the kitchen, over the baking counter, but found some vintage glass-front cabinets instead. It was fate--those cabinets and I were meant for each other. :)

A second set of the vintage cabinets is in the dining room, being used as open shelving (no doors were available), but I'm considering converting one of the shelves to a plate rack, and eventually having glass doors made for one side.

*Editing to add a link to pics of open shelves, just because they're purty. :)

Here is a link that might be useful: blog with open shelves debate

This post was edited by mama_goose on Mon, Apr 8, 13 at 12:55

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 12:50PM
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cp..I will link to what I have below. It works exactly as it did when installed. Has perfect capture , I have it exactly the same width as my cooking area, in other words no need for the extra width that you often see discussed. I also have mine at 33" above cooktop. It has 3 lights and baffles and as I said is 54" wide and 1400 cfm. I have the inline silencer and the neoprene pads at all junctures to reduce noise. The motor is mounted on the roof. When we are using the hood there is no odor at all in the house . If you walk outside it smells like a restaurant :) at least I know it is working !!

mamagoose all of my glass cabs are vintage glass windows that I had mounted to cab boxes...don't you love that old wavy glass ??? I have one extra set in the master bath and had them mounted to a free-standing cabinet for towels etc.

Here is a link that might be useful: professional Tradewind liner

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 1:06PM
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If you don't have open shelves, then your kitchen is outdated, no matter what.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 2:18PM
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haha...hey oceangirl..welcome back LOL !! you are a treat for sure. c

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 2:51PM
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LOL, oceangirl!

I guess I need to speed up installing mine or my brand new kitchen will be "outdated"...

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 2:54PM
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"I cook a lot and the items on the shelves are things I use constantly" Yes, this is what I would want, too, Jennyfromtheblock. But, "the kitchen is a separate room and has limited visibility from the rest of the house," is different than here. The kitchen is the first room one walks into in our home. Hmmmmm...

pps7, I'd love to see more of your kitchen. The one link I was able to google seems to be missing most of your kitchen pictures. The little bit I could see looked great!

Glad you like your shelves, itsallaboutthefood. : )

Pirula, your kitchen is one of my all-time favorites. I visit its pictures when I need inspiration.

Sochi: "If you don't need the extra storage from upper cabs I think open shelves are a great option." This is one of the things I really need to figure out, since we've lost a lot of uppers due to windows, an extra fridge, etc.

Ratrem, your kitchen is light and airy, for sure. Nice!

CP, lots of good points. I don't have a Christmas stollen pan (what's that?) I did think one of my pan lids was *stolen, but it turns out it had fallen behind a pullout system and nobody had taken it after all. : ) You bring up a true concern, as we do have a few farm animals milling about. Ugh.

Planning new open shelves is a sure vote of confidence, Deedles. Can't wait to see your new kitchen...

Hubba, hubba, that's quite a ventilation system, Trailrunner. I'd love to be an eater at your table. : ) Everything you cook sounds so yummy. The fan we're planning to use looks like to be 300 cfm that will be vented to the outside. I'm really hoping this is adequate for our electric stove with adjunct induction burner. Currently we turn on the bath fan when thinks get smokey around here, so is should be some improvement. Enough? I don't know... I don't do tons of high powered cooking, so hopefully it will work. (I don't sound too confident, do I?) Glad to hear your shelves have worked so beautifully for you. That's great. Thanks for answering CP's questions about your fan, she saved me from asking the same things. : )

Good points about editing. I'd like to think I don't have a lot of extras, but we have a big family, so I can't edit as heartily as a smaller group at home might. When we started running the 2nd DW, I found I needed more dishes just so we didn't run out before they both filled up.

I can't worry about being up-to-date since I've never been very trendy anyway. Ha! I look forward to seeing your kitchen, too, Eleena.

Mamagoose, you have one of the homiest kitchens going. I love your little jars of goodies marching under your cabinets. And those vintage shelves were an amazing find. My DH installs windows, so we'd have access to old glass at some point, which we've talked about using in some of our uppers. Decisions, decisions.... Those pictures you linked are very cute. : )

Here is the wall currently under scrutiny. A mixture of open and closed? All open? All closed? How high should the shelves be above the actual sink portion? These are my questions. You can see the majority of our dishes in their temporary shelving to the right. I'm looking forward to getting them up where my 16 mo baby can't reach them. She thinks they're the best toys going.

The other spot up for consideration is to the side of my stove where I'm considering open shelves for spices and jars of baking goodies (corn starch, baking powder, salt, etc.)

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 3:38PM
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As I said in the last discussion about open shelves---I loved mine! I thought they looked great and were very convenient. Did I dust them as much as I should? Nope. Especially the high one. But in planning for the remodel, it was something I lost. Hubby likes things symmetrical and thought it would look unfinished. Since I got 99% of what I wanted, I agreed. But I did love them.....

I don't know about whether or not not having them will make my kitchen out dated (before it even goes in). But I have never been one to follow the fads. Plus, a happy marriage has compromise!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 3:44PM
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laughable..thanks !! It isn't so much how you cook as also what you cook...so bacon which is cooked at a low heat but is very smoky and greasy and has a lot of odor. The acronym to remember when you select ventilation is HOGS. Heat, grease,odor and steam. All of these need to be removed. So if you cook a lot of smelly low fat food...you need great ventilation..if you cook a lot of steamy foods you need...great ventilation..you can see where this is going :) It isn't just about high heat at all.

I would love to see long shelves like sochi has on your wall. I think it would look great above your sink . I wish I could have done them that way and if I ever have a chance to do another kitchen that is what I would have.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 4:02PM
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I would hardly say that shelves are "form over function". From what I have seen and heard, open shelves are very functional. Take a peak at Martha Stewart's site . . . . . .lots of open shelves. If I remember correctly, seems like many chefs and professional cooks tout the virtues of open shelving. I don't think the fear of dust on a shelf is a deal breaker. Buy a Swifter. Takes all of 30 seconds to dust down tons of stuff and really, how hard is that? Unless you are running a diner and frying up a storm, I cannot imagine there being all that much grease build up even with a simple venting system.

How can the comment of " open shelves being easier:" be a bunch of bunk? Really Realism? Where did that come from? You never cease to amaze me.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 4:15PM
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Laughable, that has got to be one of the nicest compliments I have ever received. Thank you so very much!

P.S. I agree, loooooong shelves would be fantastic on your wall.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 4:44PM
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No matter what any of us do, our kitchens will become outdated in due time. Compared to a lot of more significant things in life that become outdated, worrying about the kitchen in that regard seems a bit overwrought. Get what you want!

I can't imagine where someone got the idea on this board that kitchens with open shelving are super trendy. If magazines are flogging that no wonder they're losing readers. This might have seemed new 9 years ago but considering that Victorian kitchens had open shelving and pot storage 100 years ago it's a bit hard to make the case.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 5:10PM
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I think all open would look lovely! I am doing a combination of both. Very good points made here. I like the advice about editing your kitchen stuff. I can't stand clutter.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 6:10PM
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laughable, saw this kitchen and thought of your sink wall. This would be a great look for over your sink. If you wanted to do a combo of open and closed, you could put doors on the end cabinets. Personally, I love open shelves. I don't know what your stove wall looks like, but the second picture is one of my favorites! Love those open shelves!

Eclectic Kitchen

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 9:25PM
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I love my open shelves in my new kitchen and I loved them in my old kitchen. Are they pretty? They were before I put all of the stuff I use all the time on them. I don't dust religiously, but they get wiped down every week or two along with everything on them. Unlike many who put daily plates and glasses on theirs, I put my cooking timer, a mason jar with flour, a basket of fresh eggs, salt, and anything else I'm using frequently. I only have two short shelves on either side of my range, but they are probably the handiest thing in my kitchen right now. I do have a pretty hefty range hood so grease isn't a problem. My old kitchen had open shelves around the range that had to be wiped off quite frequently but had no hood at all, so it was expected. The extra cleaning was worth the convenience.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 10:14PM
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So true, Rococogirl!
Thanks for your support, Ikelz.
Love those pics, Quiltgirl.
Here is the stove wall, in the midst of post-lunch cleanup. Fridge will move a few feet farther to the right when room is done. Post will be enclosed, island will be bigger, etc.

And here is my bedragled, poured over sketch of what I have in mind for the stove wall. Above the stove will be a 42" vent fan so that a portable induction burner can be set to the left of the stove. We have an old, carved piece of wood to inset in the cover of the fan. gotta go, storm is brewing outside.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 10:26PM
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Thanks for weighing in on this, Mrs. Mortarmixer. It's great to hear your open shelves function well for you, too. It makes so much sense to keep out what you use all the time.

I think we must have posted around the same time last night and I nearly missed your comments.

How is your kitchen coming along? : )

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 1:39PM
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So many comments...you probably don't need an additional one! But I, too, love our open shelves. I'm certainly no great chef, but I've tried to keep the "things" we have down to a minimum. My open shelves on the wall hold bowls/trays that I use almost every day. They're very versatile..I don't have to worry about whether or not things will fit inside a cabinet if I need to shift them around. I don't use the bowls on the top shelf as often, but haven't noticed much in the way of dust.

I also have an open shelf in my stainless prep table we use as an island. It stores pots and pans and bowls. I notice more dust here because it is closer to the floor, I think. And sometimes crumbs. :) But it just keeps me honest in terms of cleaning! I also have white floors...that'll cause you to clean more, also! But I love just reaching up (or down) to grab things and not trying to remember what cabinet they're in or mucking up the cabinet door handles with my messy hands during cooking.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 2:19PM
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laughable-my kitchen is at a standstill, the dining room floor is still sitting in the old kitchen waiting for me to pick a stain color, our wood guy has called twice this week asking questions about stuff we took months and months ago that he is just now getting to, and I've been swimming in paint samples for the past few weeks trying to find the perfect color for the kitchen, and the dining room, and the living room, and the bathroom. I'm starting to think primer white might be the answer. Easy to touch up and we can buy 5 gallons at a time. The good news is that my garden is about 1/2 done already and we've been doing quite a bit of fishing. Priorities, you know!

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 3:25PM
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