Design / August 23, 2021

Trending: Open Kitchen Shelves and How To Style Them

Something about the presence of practical things in a kitchen creates a personal, authentic atmosphere. Mugs, copper pots, cast iron pans, wooden spoons, pretty towels… Sprinkle in art and plants and you have yourself a kitchen with character. Kitchens seem to be evolving from the pristine, clean style of closed cabinetry to a more casual and approachable open shelving concept, showing off what is usually tucked away and hidden from sight. I personally love this lived-in, charming vibe that makes me want to spend more time cooking and less time vegging out on the couch. 
Scroll down to check out the open kitchen shelves I’ve been eyeing, ideas for styling, and delightful products perfect for displaying and organizing all your kitchenware.

Show Off Cookware

Showing off cookware both large and small is not only functional but creates an easygoing, welcoming space. It says “Come in, let me cook for you!” I especially love the shiny copper pots in Ellen Pompeo’s kitchen (below) that serve as a stunning focal point in the kitchen. Hanging utensils is another way to add warmth and character and utilizing a knife bar is a functional storage solution. 

black pot rack with copper pots and pans
via Good Housekeeping
wood knife magnetic bar and knives
via Crate & Barrel
Organizing knives on magnetic bars is a functional way to expose cookware.

Organize Spices

Organizing spices, dry ingredients, or fresh herbs on open shelves is not only useful, but adds texture, color, and fragrance. If you’re OCD like me, spice jars can be displayed in orderly rows or if you enjoy a more eclectic look, jars in a variety of shapes and sizes can be mixed and matched.

design by a beautiful mess
open kitchen shelves with colorful spice jars
design by a beautiful mess

via Real and Vibrant

Display Tonal Dishware

Curating dishware in similar tones and within a subtle color palette is a beautiful way to style open kitchen shelves. Keeping to muted tones rather than bright, vibrant colors evokes a calm environment and is easy on the eyes. You can achieve this look using either warm or cool tones and mixing various textures for a more layered and rich look.

brass shelves with tan green and grey glasses
via Schoolhouse
Muted grey, olive, and rusty colors create a subtle palette.
wood open kitchen shelves with neutral dishes
via Jenni Kayne
thick wood shelves with white dishes and glasses
via Pottery Barn

Curate Unique Ceramics and Objects

Arranging unique ceramics or objects are like eye candy and draw you in to a room. They break up what could be a monotonous or sterile kitchen and add a dose of personality. Glazed ceramics, terracotta dishes, wood bowls, and oddly shaped pottery are all wonderful additions to an otherwise empty kitchen.

creamy walls thick wood open shelves with clay mugs and wood bowls
design by Joshua Tree House
Artisanal mugs, warm wood, and clay tones beautifully compliment each other.
unique terracotta pottery on wood open kitchen shelves
via Loom + Kilm

design by Lobster & Swan
I’m loving the mix of a silver vintage tea kettle, patterned and textured pottery, and a mug with a funky, oversized handle.

Utilize Baskets and Bins

Utilizing baskets and bins is a practical way to hold fruit or veggies in an open kitchen and gives off a farmer’s market vibe. If you have limited space or want easy access to your produce, this is a great solution!

woven hanging basket with fruit
design by Joshua Tree House

via Ikea / Urban Outfitters

jute open baskets on hooks with onions and garlic
via Jute Wool Wood

Embrace Eclectic

Embracing an eclectic style and hanging it all out there (figuratively and literally) brings life and character to a kitchen. Curate artwork, unique objects, plants, or books alongside cookware to achieve a dynamic and unique display. The kitchen then moves from a purely utilitarian space to one that offers your guests something interesting to eye and explore. Who doesn’t love admiring artwork or browsing through beautiful books?

white square backsplash and open kitchen shelves with art
via Loom + Kilm
I love how the framed portrait becomes a subtle focal point surrounded by charming ceramics and kitchen tools.
mesh bag with oranges
design by Lobster & Swan
Hanging a well placed pendant or arm sconce adds another layer to this nicely filled kitchen, not to mention offering a pleasant accent light when needed. I’m also digging the mesh bag showing off beautiful, bright oranges. Yum!
rustic kitchen with plaster wall and earthy dishes
design by Lobster & Swan
Crawling vines, linens, and pottery all add to this kitchen’s charm. I also noticed the plaster wall used in lieu of the usual tile backsplash, which makes me dream about sipping tea in a lovely cottage.

There are so many ways to style open kitchen shelves, just take your pick! Curating the right combination of items is a process, so I’ve gathered some practical products below to help get you started.


  1. Oil & Vinegar Labels / Etsy
  2. Pantry Labels / Etsy
  3. Faceted Jar with Wooden Scoop / Zara Home
  4. Mini Oval Spice-Herb Jars with Clamp Set of 12 / Crate & Barrel
  5. Wooden Mug Rack / Magnolia Home
  6. Wall-Mount Bookshelf Pot Rack with Grid & 12 Hooks / Amazon
  7. Ludlow Leather Hooks – Tan / Lostine
  8. Under-Shelf Swiveling Hook Accessory / Rejuvenation
  9. Nicolai Utility Rail / Schoolhouse
  10. Streamline Modular Wall Shelves / West Elm
  11. Luciana Wavy Wall Shelf / Urban Outfitters
  12. Metal and Wood Wall Shelf / H&M Home
  13. Bekvam Spice Rack / Ikea
  14. Reclaimed Walnut Knife Grabber / Food52
  15. Schmidt Brothers Acacia 24″ Magnetic Wall Bar / Crate & Barrel
  16. Kungsfors Mesh Bag / Ikea
  17. Ria Tiered Hanging Basket / Urban Outfitters
  18. Wooden Flatware Basket with Handle / Zara Home
  19. Hanging Wall Baskets / Etsy
  20. Hultarp Container / Ikea
  21. Observator Clip On Basket / Ikea


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