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Open shelves look a mess - please help

Posted by redroze (My Page) on
Mon, Feb 23, 09 at 22:31

Okay, I am trying to get our kitchen right for our finished kitchen photos and getting a bit anal in the process. Taking some photos now, will take more later of the overall kitchen when we get in our other stuff (drapes, table, etc.)

Why do these open shelves look like such a mess??? Do I need to restrict everything on them to all white and glass, similar to what I put in our glass cabinet? I wanted to put some fun pops of colour but things don't feel right. I'd love some advice!! Excuse the blacked-out photos on the bottom right shelves, I'm always paranoid about Internet security and any weirdo lurkers.

What is wrong with this picture? By the way, I changed the contents in the glass jars to pretzels, shreddies and red twizzlers.

Our glass cabinet feels calm, serene. But I wanted to do some funner and more electic things on the open shelves.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Open shelves look a mess - please help

Wow, beautiful cabinets! What line?

I don't think they look at mess at all but one thing I did notice is that you want to put the taller things on the left and the shorter things on the right - something about how the eye looks at things I was told.

It might be the all glass or all white that bothers you?? Those canisters are so pretty... with the new contents, try them on the shelves maybe?


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RE: Open shelves look a mess - please help

Those are such pretty shelves, redroze. They are in such a convenient spot, if I have your kitchen geography in my head right-- to the left of your sink and dishwasher, no? That is prime kitchen real estate. I think that whatever you put there, at least on the bottom shelves, should be stuff you use every day, that would get washed often. Maybe your cereal bowls and white mugs that are currently in the glass cab? I might also put some canisters with tea and coffee and sugar there. I might try putting the wine glasses in the glass cab (even if you use them every day, as I do!). Whatever goes on the top shelf can be purely decorative since it will be tough to reach, anyway. Maybe you could put your photos there or some rarely used china . . .


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RE: Open shelves look a mess - please help

I think the things are in too much of a straight line. Plus, maybe a large jar or plate or something in a different shape. Some accent piece to add some punch? Some cookbooks? Thing are too similar in size too.

All that being said, it looks LOVELY--great bones. Can't wait to see the pictures. Maybe you can look at pix of kitchens in magazines and see how/what they display!


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RE: Open shelves look a mess - please help

I think the closed cupboard looks wonderful. Nice balance of sizes and white vs glass. You can add some color if you'd like..won't hurt.

The open shelves do need some rearranging, I think. Is it only deep enough for a single item? The single-line, shoulder-to-shoulder line up is kind of stark/severe/regimented, and maybe try moving things around to get a better balance with tall and short, light/clear glass and the darker items. If it could be more haphazard and have more of those 'everyday use' items that morton5 mentioned, it's organization may become less of an issue...It may be too organized. Books? Figurines? Wine bottles? Something made of fabric, wood, or straw? Something with some texture, color, and warmth?

I hope I haven't said anything that hurts your feelings. I sure don't mean it at all that way. Just trying my best to describe my thoughts. I wish I could be there to try moving things around and see what other things you have around to throw up there. :-)


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RE: Open shelves look a mess - please help

i think they look wonderful! i rather like adding the darker colors in with the white. i think the glass is probably getting lost against the white background of the cabinet. try having some fun by adding more things. i think it really looks beautiful!

if you don't mind, could you tell me how wide your glass front cabinets are?

i can't wait to see more. this is such a tease!


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RE: Open shelves look a mess - please help

A mess? Gosh, it looks like something out of a magazine to me.

I do agree with kelleg though - some different textures in there other than just glass. I'd like to see some cookbooks but the shelves look like they might be too narrow for that. What about a recipe box? I just saw some beautiful antique wooden ones on ebay that would look smashing up there. And how about one really colourful piece in red, orange, yellow or even turquoise. I'm thinking something kind of unexpected like a ceramic fish or (yes, Igloo) a chicken.

If there is space for books do some upright, but on another shelf, do 3 of them lying flat and stick one of those smaller items on top of the stack.

Or just leave it as is - it does look straight out of Better Homes.


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RE: Open shelves look a mess - please help

Your kitchen is so lovely -- but there's nothing like looking at it through a camera lens to make things look different, is there!

Do you use the goblets on the shelf daily? Do you use the white tableware in the glass-door cupboard daily? I think I might move the tableware to the open shelves and the goblets inside the glass-door cupboard -- I think I'd like the heavier look of the tableware on the open shelves and the lighter look of the glassware enclosed.

I'd also add some color -- Maybe just one or two colors until you get a feel for how it looks. My guess is that you're so used to seeing the all-white look now that anything else really pops out in a funny way to your eye. Maybe stand some platters/plates behind the glassware.

I'll bet if you play with it you'll eventually find a look that pleases you. How could you go wrong with such nice bones?

Arlene


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RE: Open shelves look a mess - please help

Just so you know, I am reading and appreciate all of your comments. No hurt feelings at all! Just need a chance to absorb them.

Just to give some clarity on the size of the shelves, they are very shallow intentionally, and nice and long. Each shelf is 10.5" high, 47" wide, and only 8.5" deep.

They are to the left of the main sink and dishwashwer, so definitely prime real estate as Morton5 mentioned.


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No problem

No problem Kate, the glass cabinets are roughly 2'4" wide which includes the frame.


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RE: Open shelves look a mess - please help

Redroze, your kitchen turned out beautiful! Can't wait to see how drapes & final furnishing tie it all together. I'm so far from that I want to cry, but your kitchen always makes me smile :)


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RE: Open shelves look a mess - please help

Beautiful cabinets! It looks so amazing already, but I think I would add a plant or two on the open shelves. I feel like it needs something organic or some texture to make it feel like home.

Other than that, it looks amazing from what I can see...I can't wait to see the rest as that's very much the style I'm going for!


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RE: Open shelves look a mess - please help

I think the shelves look fine -- IMO what's throwing it off is the imbalance BELOW the shelves, i.e. the big blank space to the right of the glass canisters. I would add something large and colorful (red coffeemaker, colorful cookie jar, framed picture, etc.) in that space, or just slide the glass canisters over so they're more centered under the shelves.


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RE: Open shelves look a mess - please help

I think it would look nice if you added in some things that weren't just "kitchen" objects. Just saw you have some, but I think they're too small. Here are a few pics:

Photobucket
Photobucket

I think you need to add some "layers" to make it feel fuller. Stand up a platter or picture and then layer the glasses, mugs, etc. in front. Overall, I think it needs some "heft". It looks a little too "fragile" right now, but definitely going in the right direction.

Photobucket
Photobucket


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RE: Open shelves look a mess - please help

I think the comments above about needing "heft" and that it's "delicate" now are right on. I think the problem is that everything on the shelves, whether glass or ceramic, is about the same size, and about the same shape -- circular, and about the diameter of a coffee mug, and they don't extend to the full height of the shelf. So visually, you need some larger pieces to ground the display. Replace the smaller picture frames with an 8x10, put in a colored glass vase or urn or crock that fills the full 8.5 inch depth and height, a teapot (if it's large enough), a platter on edge, anything boxy that will take advantage of the full height. There's too much airy white space above the items.

And you might want to stagger the placement of the groupings -- cluster the mugs, don't line them up -- they'll look more substantial in a cluster, one forward one back. They just look sparse now. And you're using even numbers of items. Odd numbers -- three or five-- always seem to look better.

I think mahlgold's pictures are really helpful for showing asymmetrical balance, and space-filling heft.


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RE: Open shelves look a mess - please help

I like using shelves like yours to show off a collection or, perhaps, several smaller collections of special items grouped together. The things you have there are lovely, but to me, they look like "sets" rather than "collections"--does that make any sense at all? That is, do you have some special plates or trays that could be displayed? A funky tea set? Some colorful Fiesta ware? Some items that take up more of the vertical space on each shelf would help.

Oh, one more thing, your glass items up there will get yucky in no time. You might want to stick with items other than glass, both for looks and practicality.


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RE: Open shelves look a mess - please help

I think a woven basket with some bright dish cloths or patterned napkins would look nice where the glass cannisters are.


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RE: Open shelves look a mess - please help

I think they are lovely...but...you mentioned something with a pop of color. The only colors I see are gray, white and black...maybe amber in that little bottle on the bottom? I think you need color, I mean real, saturated color. Like a yellow platter or a green pitcher or a red canister (the red twizzlers would be great) or even a colorful mosaic pot of some sort. Maybe collect some jadeite pieces if you like that sort of thing, it doesn't have to be bright color...pastels work too. What's your favorite color? Cobalt glass bottles would be beautiful too. Also I agree that something larger and with more weight would be good. I collect Fiestaware and use some of it in my decorating. TJ Maxx is a great place to go for an odd pitcher, plate or platter just to add punch without buying an entire set of something.

Good luck and have fun with it!
Robin


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RE: Open shelves look a mess - please help

I know it's a kitchen but you might also post to the Home Decorating forum. FWIW, you might try raiding other areas of your home to provide that punch of color from an unexpected object. I'm thinking small framed picture, beautiful vase, or a tivet displayed vertically but useful in a kitchen.


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RE: Open shelves look a mess - please help

I think it's looking great but the suggestions so far seem right on. If you can fit cookbooks, I would do that and also some photos. I think as you live in the kitchen, your shelves will evolve. I think we lovers of white, serene kitchens are afraid a little of where to place color and how much, but I bet if you just live in the space and relax, the things that should be there will end up where they belong. By the way, referring to an earlier post, I also like the photo of your kitchen with the lights off(on looks beautiful too but there is something so calm about it with the lights off.)


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Holy cow

Holy cow...you guys are good. So spot on. I'm going to play around later this week with arranging stuff and post some variations. You rock.


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RE: Open shelves look a mess - please help

I posted this on the decorating board, but I wasn't sure if maybe I should have posted it here. I apologize for double posting.

Wow, your kitchen looks like it's going to be gorgeous when you're finished. Great work.

You have wonderful ideas over in the kitchen forum. I have two suggestions. First, leave some empty spaces, don't have everything lined up filling the whole shelf. This is especially important if you have something of eye catching color/shape - you want room for the eyes to rest on that special item. Second, anything there will collect dust and dirt - best to find things that you can throw in the dishwasher every once and a while and/or are easy to clean.

Lovely job.

Sky


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What do you think

What do you think? Moved over the white wine glasses into the glass cabinet. Added green apples and plant that used to sit beside the sink. I think the stacked plates look really, really good - thanks for the idea!! These are dessert plates and they fit just right. I should buy more dishware that's white with platinum edging...hmmm an excuse to buy more dishware. =)


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RE: Open shelves look a mess - please help

do you have a rectangular platter, picture, mirror that you could layer behind the items on the left side? I still think they're too small. Or maybe a decorative box instead of the cup/saucer and plant.

You're definitely moving in the right direction. This is not easy to do. My suggestion is to go to Home Goods(not sure if you have them in Canada) or some discount store that sells decorative items. Buy anything that catches your eye. Bring it home and play around with it on the shelves. Return what you don't want.


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Yeah

Yeah, I think you're right Malhgold. I think I need bigger objects. I don't want to put the glass canisters on the shelves because they're a bit heavy. Let me see what I can scrummage up. I'll play more tomorrow. I also bought this recipe box which will work well where the canisters currently are.


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RE: Open shelves look a mess - please help

I think they look great, but if you want to tweak it, I'd vary the heights and placements of the objects,-- right now they are lined up a bit like soldiers. so, more varied and less symetrical would be my vote.

Just a thought. When you first posted, I must say that I thought your picture was an inspiration pic and you wanted to get your shelves to look like that. So, I wouldn't stress about it too much.


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RE: Open shelves look a mess - please help

Where did you find that cookbook stand/recipe box? I love it. It will look great where your canisters are, but maybe you could leave one canister near it? The shelf looks a lot better with the vase of apples and little plant.

I love the idea of a platter behind the items on the left. It will make those pop.


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RE: Open shelves look a mess - please help

Redroze, it's all looking great! and I like what you did with the rearrangement.

I think you need resist the urge of having the items looking symmetrical and orderly. Still feels a little like a line of items, although I love the pop of colour of the green apples. That could be a "seasonal" display - peaches, apples, plums, tomatoes, etc. I generally don't like "fake" fruit but it is amazing what is available now. Try Michael's or HomeSense - in fact, HomeSense would be great to get some ideas or objets. The mirros suggestion is a great one!

Eliz

PS. Did you see the call out to you re your drapes?


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RE: Open shelves look a mess - please help

Love love love the apples! And the dessert plates!

Isn't this fun! It's so interesting to actually see those decorating theories in action! And it's so gratifying to experiment in YOUR kitchen -- it's so beautiful and inviting, and I don't have to move the dishes around!


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LOL Evilbunnie

Americancolleen - They are not from a specific line, they are custom cabinets made by our GC (and friend's) uncle. All the uncles and our GC's father work in the custom woodworking business. I think this is the first time they did inset cabinets. We gave them an inspiration photo and they came up with something different but we love how they turned out! Thanks!

Morton - I love your ideas. We use cereal bowls and mugs very frequently, that would work and maybe give it a breakfast "theme" with the sugars and creamers.

Kelleg - I see what you mean about the straight lines. I added the apples there...cookbooks are too tall unfortunately.

Rhome - I tried my La Creuset cherry red ramekins in the glass cabs and they looked awesome.

Kate - Yes, you got that I added the dark mugs and dark frame. I liked the contrast too. You're right about the glass, I moved the white wine glasses to the glass cabinet because of your advice.

Budge - You're right, the cookbooks don't fit there otherwise I'd love that. Recipe box...you're right along those lines of thinking!!! I ordered the above white recipe box, delivered it to our uncle in the US. I won't see it until summer when he visits...I'm DYING to see it in person and start filling it in with recipes. Yes, an animal may fit!!! I have a glass chickadee but it may disappear. Maybe an animal in white porcelain...I can't deny that I love, love, love all things white.

Hostagrams - I don't use the goblets daily. I use almost everything in the glass cab daily, with the exception of the top shelf items. I think you and Morton are right about moving tableware to the open shelves. I think you're so, so right!!!

Bdaykitchen - Don't cry, your kitchen is heading into a lovely direction. I'm so excited for you. Cherish these moments...so many opportunities lie ahead in the stage that you're at.

Donka - Yes, I was thinking of doing small herb plants...maybe red pepper plants.

Kitchen1921 - Yes, I knew the glass canisters were too small when I bought them...but I didn't want the bigger ones, mainly because I didn't like the idea of buying gobs and gobs of stuff to fill them with!! Also because I wanted them to truly be functional (i.e. we can grab snacks from them), and because I can be a slight neat freak/symmetry-obsessed, I would go crazy seeing these 1/3rd empty glass canisters. So I'd have to keep filling them so they feel full. Weird, I know!! I know, I need a nice slice toaster, blender, etc. that I can put there.

Malhgold - Yes, I need to get less kitchen-y stuff that is bigger. Really good point, and great inspiration photos!! I like the tray idea, and the standing up the platter and layering things in front. Yes, yes, yes, you have got me thinking. I like the magazine photo you posted especially. I want to run out and buy some glass cake covers (or bell jars or whatever they're called) like that photo!!!

Evilbunnie - You're so wise, Evilbunnie!! I was trying to do things similar in size to connect them together but they come off collectively as very blah. Airy white space, I see exactly what you're saying. I also like what you're saying about clustering...I've seen that in magazines and wonder how they achieve this perfect sense of organized chaos. That's the look I want!!! ANd yes, odd numbers. You're so right.

Holligator - I had thought about dedicating it to a particular collection. I saw a magazine photo that had all white stuff with blue print...looked GOR-GEOUS. I know what you mean by sets, I have multiple pairs that relate to each other but not to the whole group. I've never understand what the heck fiestaware is...always heard the term but am clueless to what it is (I'm picture red and bright yellow with chilis for some reason!!) I like antique stuff so I'll probably collect more of them...and they're more affordable. You're also right about the glass...the glasses are going kaput...into the glass cab they go.

Neesie - looove that idea. Love it a lot. Gives me an excuse to get those french-style napkins that I've been coveting, but know I'd never use.

Rmlanza - Yes, I approach colour very cautiously as you can see. I'm a neutral kinda girl. My favourite colour is red (hence the nickname redroze), but I also love jade green, grey blues, lavendars, pinks...heck I love all kinds of colours.

Owls4me - I took your advice and cross posted to the Home Decor forum too. I will raid other areas...I have tons of stuff that might work.

Blakey - I know, I love the serenity of white...thanks for your note about the lights, DH will be pleased that someone agrees with him!!

Skypathway - Thank you. Really good tips too...

Malhgold - I could do something behind the glass canisters...oo, a silver tray may work. Decorative box...hmm you got me thinking. We don't have Home Goods in Canada, but HomeSense is probably similar.

Danielle00 - Haha...thanks for that note. Yes, they are like soldiers...a bit too styled and not natural or organic enough.

Krissd - I found it on cooking.com. It was backordered last year and I thought I lost my chance and that they'd be sold out forever!! Go there now - I love it!!! It comes with 100 recipe cards as well.

Eliz - I know, symmetry and order is what I was going for and I'm ashamed to see that everyone can spot it (and your eagle eyes)!! Good, the green apples work. I like the seasonal display. The green apples are fake, and I too hate fake fruit and fake flowers. But these apples look so real, even up close. I'd probably replace them when the real thing is in season. We had a fruit fly problem last year though. Tip - Make homemade traps by placing a piece of fruit in a mug, cover with saran wrap, poke holes, and the little suckers get trapped in there!! I tell you there must have been hundreds of fruit flies in the cup, and they couldn't get out!! I was so pleased, I felt like the fruit fly hunter!! I like the mirror idea too. Yes, I saw the call out about the drapes, thanks for the note Elizpiz!

Evilbunnie - Yes, it's fun!! I think there's the perfect spot for you though. Do you think you would work in my kitchen?? Is it too sweet for your evilness? haha


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RE: Open shelves look a mess - please help

(late to the game as I've been sick the past few days...)

Last shot is a definite step in the right direction. Less regimented, more heft and more color.

If you've not done so already, find some pics of trailrunner's open shelves.

On a side note, your dilemmas are precisely whey when Hubby broached the subject of making some of our upper cabs be glass I said absolutely not. He'd want them to have that perfectly ordered symmetrical look that just isn't natural or practical or useful or even attractive. AND he'd fuss at me if it wasn't so. No thanks - that's one argument I can do without.


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RE: Open shelves look a mess - please help

You're getting there! Love the green apples -- try some yellow lemons sometime -- with a cobalt blue something next to it or a green glass plate peeking out from behind the jar.

I like the tableware on the shelves -- Maybe stand dinner plates behind the other things on that shelf. I like the idea of a mirror or tray behind something.

For me, having the two cream and sugar sets side by side doesn't work. I'd probably put one of them in the glass cupboard and just have one on the open shelf. I think I'd like something a little more substantial there, something with more heft, that would take up more visual space.

I also think I'd like something else on the counter along with the glass jars . . . maybe something decorative . . .

I love where you're heading!!


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RE: Open shelves look a mess - please help

I really like what you did with that bottom shelf, and I think you hit on something important. The things you added--the apples and the plant--are both natural and somehow bring not just color but some "life" to the shelf. A few more natural items (pretty oil bottles with peppers or olives in them, jars of canned preserves, taller and narrower versions of the canisters on the counter) or things made of natural materials (sweetgrass baskets, a terracotta flower pot) might add what you're looking for--some subtle color not too far from neutral and the warmth of natural materials. The things you added also add some height, which balances things out.

Fiestaware is just a brand of dishes that comes in lots of great colors. Here is a pic of some fiestaware in open shelving. In your kitchen, I would pick one or two of the colors and get a few pieces of each. I would either go with red or a combination of two or three of the following: sunflower, shamrock, turquoise, and peacock, or perhaps even more white. Here's a link to see the Fiestaware colors.

A cluster or two of antique cobalt or green glass bottles would look fabulous, adding needed height and color. They would show up beautifully against the white background.

A few framed botanical prints, clustered here and there, would also look wonderful. Sticking with something like ferns would allow you to limit your colors to the ones you have and still look great.

One last thing. I found the following link with pics of open shelves and thought maybe it could give you some ideas.

Here is a link that might be useful: open shelves pics


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RE: Open shelves look a mess - please help

Your shelves & dish cab look beautiful. For me, I would really
want useful items in the lowest one...not just decorative.
Definitely a tray, bowls, herbs. If your coffee pot was nearby, it would
be great for coffee mugs too. As you live in your new kitchen, it will
evolve!
vic


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RE: Open shelves look a mess - please help

I like the original layout of the shelves! They are a nice piece of art, but may not be functional for your kitchen needs. The glass cupboard needs so color or texture. I am not a good decorator, but you have some excellent suggestions already.


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RE: Open shelves look a mess - please help

Have you thought about something like this. This kitchen is from designer Brian Gluckstein. Another fellow Canadian.


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RE: Open shelves look a mess - please help

I'm a watercolorist, so I like things organic looking, a little more accidental and random [even if you have to work very hard arranging for those spontaneous 'happy accidents'].

To me your arrangement is a little formal, with everything spaced so perfectly. I'd clump the glasses up a little more, add a few more mid tone elements so it isn't so stark. I'd really need more color, both on the shelves and the countertop...


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RE: Open shelves look a mess - please help

Like others have said, I still favor less of a line up and more randomness. You have definitely made steps in the right direction, but I'd like to see something softer and with more texture. Everything you have is smooth and glossy...too clean and perfect maybe?

The recipe box is a good start and I can't wait to see it in the mix. Are those canisters gallon jars? If not, maybe a larger one mixed in would help, because they look a little small for the space available.


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RE: Open shelves look a mess - please help

Ok - my picture did not show up the first time. Here's my 2nd attempt


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Hello again

That's what Fiestware is...thanks holligator! Beautiful collection, especially the pinks and blues. I'm really attracted to the following colours: Turquoise, White (of course), Cinnabar, Scarlet.

I've also seen Emile Henry ceramics in person and really really like them. I ended up buying the oil cruet in Poivre (grey, I love grey), I also like the Litchi (pink) and Figure (eggplant purple). They are pricey but I will invest in more over time.

I have an oil cruet in Poivre.

I want to stick to these accent colours, with the occasional hit of green. Fortunately I have a husband who used to have a pink lamp in his bedrooom when we were dating (purely fluke and a hand-me-down - not out of choice or anything!!) and he doesn't object to girly colours. All the colours I like are in this bouquet of flowers, which by the way, I plan on recreating for my final finished kitchen photos!! It will go on the island or the kitchen table. I don't think it's too girly, as the plums have a unisex feel to them. Also, there's so much neutral in the kitchen that it will temper the girlier colours.

I will think about adding more texture, more stuff, but do it naturally.

Holligator, i like your ideas on ferns and the coloured glass!!!

Catsam, I can't see your image. I really like Brian Gluckstein! He's one who can stick to neutrals and it always looks good.

Oruboris - Yes, you're right that everything is too proper and dignified.

Rhome - Yes, they are gallon jars I believe. I bought the smallest of the 3 sizes...I didn't want to spend too much. I may consider upgrading one day though. You're right, it's too perfect.

Thanks for the encouragement and tips everyone.


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RE: Open shelves look a mess - please help

redrose - my apologies. I haven't posted in a while. Here it is:

Photobucket


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RE: Open shelves look a mess - please help

redrose......you are much better than i am because i didn't really think about accessories for my finished kitchen picture!!!! i agree with vic on this one.....this may change 100 times in the next few months. you might find you want the shelves to be more functional, and then just when you think you have it right, you'll see something in a little boutique and it will throw a wrench into your whole plan. i think this stuff is fun!!!!!!! just keep playing around with it, and also changing it.....also, you may want to go back through some old kitchen magazines and just look at accessories. i found myself looking through my favorites over and over again....each time for something different (paint colors, hardware placement, accessories, lighting, etc!!!!)

i will say, whatever you decide to put on those shelves, your finished kitchen pictures are going to be AMAZING!!!!!!!


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well thank you

Well, thank you gglks!! You know, I took everyone's advice and started to just throw stuff on there. Not just without any thought (because I am waaayyy too organized to do that!) but just more casually than normal. No lining up of things. And you know what? It looks heck of a lot better.

Catsam, thanks for the photo. I know that kitchen well - it's actually Brian's himself. I always wondered if he ever wrote anything on that blackboard hood...he never struck me as the blackboard type!! Gorgeous kitchen though...he has this thing with libraries. Even his bathroom looks like a library.


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RE: Open shelves look a mess - please help

pictures please!


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Budge

Budge...the kitchen table and chairs are literally being built AT THIS MOMENT (custom wood table, custom upholstered chairs...DH and I are addicted to custom cause we can never find anything standard that we like!!) The drapes came in yesterday, they needed to be lengthened...

Trust me, I am SO EAGER to post photos, I just want to give the finished product!!! Thanks for the reply though, it warms my heart. =)


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Ooops

Oops..did you mean pictures of my new, casual, everything-on-them shelves?? I misread Budge, sorry!! I'll take some photos on the weekend for ya.


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