A Minimalist Approach to Styling Kitchen Open Shelving

Cabinet Pulls | Bamboo Shades | White Dish Set |Succulent Shadowbox

If you have been around here for a while, you might have noticed that I like to keep things simple and clean when it comes to home decor. So when it comes to styling the open shelves in our kitchen, the same rules apply.

We use our shelves to store our everyday dishes, so I take a “function first” approach to styling them. I think “functional” can be beautiful.

However, open shelving in the kitchen can be a little intimidating. After all, we’re displaying items out in the open that are normally hidden away in cabinets. This is why I have a few of my own guidelines when it comes to styling our open shelves. I always feel if I have a plan, things are easier.

Keep it Clean and Decluttered

I start with our basic white dish set. This keeps things looking clean and minimal. Using a lighter, more neutral color always allows you to add pops of color in other areas.

White Dish Set | Succulent Shadowbox

I make sure to not put too many dishes on the shelves. This keeps them from looking over crowded and cluttered. The shelves can still look clean and serve a purpose.

This also allows room to add in some nonfunctional decorative items.


I place my dishes based on convenience. I think about how we use our kitchen and place the dishes on the shelves accordingly.

Mini Succulent

For example, I keep the coffee mugs on the right side shelves. This is the side of the counter where our expresso machine/coffee is place. Having the coffee mugs within reach makes it super convenient when making my morning coffee.

Expresso Machine | Bamboo Blinds | White Dish Set | Mini Succulent

And on the left side shelves, I keep the majority of our dinner plates and bowls. Having them close to the oven makes it easy to grab one and plate food when cooking a meal.

I also try and keep it balanced on each side. This helps with symmetry and the overall look.

Visual Interest

The best way to create visual interest on open shelving is with height. I do this a couple of ways. I stack my plates and bowls in varying heights. I might have a stack of six or seven large plates, and beside that have a stack of only three small plates.

I also add in decorative items of different heights. Vases and tall jars are great items to add height to open shelving. I have even used small pictures at times, which adds a lot of interest amongst the white dishes.


This one is my favorite. In my opinion, things just come to life when adding a touch of greenery. Succulents are always a great choice, and add just the right amount of green without taking over the space. Either faux or real greenery will work. I actually have used both. Sadly though, I’m not great at keeping things alive. So I tend to stick with the artificial stuff.

You cannot go wrong with white, wood, and greenery. Always a perfect combination!

Other Ideas

Another great idea for open shelves in the kitchen would be to add in a letter board. This would be fun and add something a little different to change up on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

Something I also tend to do is change up some items with each season. For instance, this spring and summer season I have some blues and lighter colors. During fall and winter I like adding in some brass accents.

Changing it up always keeps things feeling fresh and lively, but sticking with the main idea of clean and convenient while keeping height variation, using visual interest and greenery will keep those shelves easy to style and looking great!

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  • Reply Karen Burgan

    We are in the process of building a new home, starting next month. We are empty nesters and are downsizing. We are going to do some open shelving with the subway tile. My question is how do you keep your dishes from chipping when they are put on the shelf and hit the tile?

    June 13, 2019 at 1:55 am
    • Reply Brooke

      Hi Karen. That’s exciting! Good luck with the new build. It’s really never been a concern with us. Our shelves are deep enough to where the dishes never hit the tile. The shelves are about 12″ in depth.

      June 13, 2019 at 11:16 am
      • Reply Alden

        Love this so much thank you for sharing!!

        Where are your floating shelves from and/or what type of wood??

        July 18, 2019 at 4:01 am
        • Reply Brooke

          Henry made them. There is a link to the tutorial in the first paragraph. He used clear pine.

          July 18, 2019 at 1:12 pm
  • Reply Elizabeth Ellen

    can you tell me more about those gorgeous wood floors in your kitchen?

    June 13, 2019 at 4:04 pm
  • Reply Karen Burgan

    Thank you Brooke

    June 14, 2019 at 2:31 am
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