If you’re considering giving your kitchen a facelift and you’ve begun perusing the countless magazines and online design boards, then you’ve undoubtedly come across images of open-shelved kitchens. For many, omitting cabinet doors offers a chance to open up the kitchen. For others, however, the idea of removing cabinet doors is downright frightening. “What about the dust?” they ask. “Won’t my dishes get dirty?,” and “What about hiding my disorganization?”

Well, it seems that the answers vary, and depending upon your kitchen personality, opting for open shelving will either completely liberate you or simply drive you mad. We’ve assembled a list of pros and cons, however, in the hopes that it will help you navigate through your design decisions.


  • Opting for open shelving is often seen as an affordable alternative to completely new cabinetry. If you’re considering refacing your cabinets and have always loved the concept of abandoning your cabinet doors, now is the time to make the switch to open shelving.
  • Open shelving opens up the room. If you have always felt that your kitchen seems closed in, open shelving will create an illusion of a bigger room.
  • Without cabinet doors, shelves begin to take on a more ancient and industrial feel. Walking into a room with open shelving instantly reinforces a design of functionality and cleanliness. Dirt cannot hide so easily with open shelves; neither can clutter.
  • Open shelving makes everything visible—all the time. You no longer have to frantically search through every cupboard for that one hard-to-find kitchen gadget. You simply have to look up, and chances are, since it is constantly visible, you haven’t forgotten where you put it the last time you used it, anyways.


  • If you are a neat freak, then open shelving might not be something you want to invest in. Since dishes must be stacked and might not always color coordinate, some people can perceive open shelving as a clutter disaster. Others, however, use this design as a chance to flaunt their artistic talents. It’s all in the eye of the beholder, we suppose.
  • While most people who have open shelving agree that dust isn’t an issue, it still remains a concern. If you are planning to place items on the open shelves that won’t be used on a regular basis, then dust will certainly accumulate. As well, if you are also wanting to convert the base cabinets to open shelves, dust will be more highly noticeable on those lower cabinets. Unless you are willing to clean often—or simply ignore the layers of dust—open shelving might not be your best option—especially for the lower shelves.
  • Open shelving is often seen as a highly personal design option. If you are planning to sell your home, open shelving may be an immediate turn-off to potential buyers. Generally, traditional kitchen design is considered the most neutral option when trying to appeal to future home buyers.


Open shelving offers a beautiful and sleek option to the traditional closed cupboard. It gives the homeowner a chance to be creative with kitchen design and organization and offers a design approach that can renew the existing kitchen’s blueprint. Whether installing a new kitchen or simply repurposing the existing kitchen, open shelving is a worthy consideration that will add flair and personality to any kitchen design.


If you decide that open shelving might be something you want to consider, it’s important that you understand your options, for just like cabinet finishes, each option reveals a specific style.

  • Wooden shelves with corbels: Wooden shelves can be painted or stained to match the existing cabinetry, or they can complement the lower cabinets with a different color. Corbels can be placed beneath each shelf, giving it an industrial look or even a farmhouse appeal.
  • Metal shelves: If you are looking for a sleek and refined design, then perhaps you should consider metal shelving. Whether it’s stainless steel or an antiqued bronze shelf, metal shelving will be sure to give your kitchen a distinct appeal with a classic design.
  • Open Cabinets: Simply removing existing doors or installing new cabinet boxes without doors will create the open shelf look in any kitchen. Backing the cabinets with molding, mirrors, paint, or paper will lend a unique charm to the cabinets, allowing them to serve as a focal point within the kitchen.

When considering ways to add individual allure to your kitchen, open shelving is a viable option that is certainly growing in popularity. Whether you are installing a completely new kitchen or refacing your current cabinets, converting to an open-shelf system will infuse the kitchen with open-air functionality and artistic organization. Our designers and installers here at Windows, Doors & More can help you decide if an open-shelf kitchen would work with your lifestyle, and they can expose you to the countless design options available.

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