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  • Lindsey Borchard

Kitchen Shelf Styling Tips + Tricks

Lindsey Brooke Design studio kitchen

Open shelving has been gaining popularity in kitchens in recent years but styling them can be tricky. How do you keep things looking cohesive and curated rather than jumbled and messy? Here are some of my favorite tricks for getting that Insta-worthy look while keeping it functional and practical, too.

open kitchen shelving

Keep everyday items close at hand. Unless you have endless storage, your kitchen shelves won't be purely decorative but will need to hold some everyday items. Start filling your shelves with any plates, bowls, or glassware you want to display, making sure it's easy to access. I like to stack similar items together, but not crowd the shelves too much. You may also want to pull out some larger serving pieces, and as a bonus, you'll probably find yourself using them more often than when they were tucked away in a cabinet. I often hear concerns about dust when we specify open shelving, but honestly, when things are getting used and rotating in and out of the dishwasher frequently, dust really isn't an issue.

open kitchen shelving

Add vertical layers. Once your daily-use items are placed, you can start filling in space and bringing height with books or serving pedestals. This is a great way to elevate a stack of low bowls or draw attention to an especially pretty item. As you place larger pieces, move in a zig-zig pattern to keep the shelves looking balanced. I also like to stand wooden cutting boards or small pieces of art behind things (especially clear glassware) or along the counters below the shelves for added color, texture, and height.

open kitchen shelving

Vary texture and shape. If you have all-white dishes, adding a few handmade ceramic, wooden, or woven pieces will bring a little life to your shelves. And likewise, if everything is stacked and horizontal, look for a tall vase or pitcher to break it up. I'm always on the lookout for things that are functional but don't sacrifice on style, so we've added some great pieces to our studio. If you need some help rounding out your collections, you can get in touch with us by emailing

open kitchen shelving

Bring in something living. Even a really pretty vignette can fall a little flat to me unless it includes some sort of living thing. Small potted herbs or bowls of produce are obvious choices in a kitchen -- and they are useful! I also like potted plants (real or faux) and the grocery store floral section can be a great source for greenery like eucalyptus or olive branches, which are a pretty dusty green color and will last a long time in a vase of water.

open kitchen shelving

Edit. I like to err on the side of adding too much, and editing it down later on. Sometimes it takes a few tries to get it feeling exactly right and it will be easier to start with more then you think you need and take away, then to do it the other way around. If you feel like you are in over your head, we're launching an in-home styling service using products from our studio very soon, so get in touch if you are interested.

And of course, if you are looking for full-service design services, please fill out our design inquiry.


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