5 tips and tricks to style open shelving


sconce / mortar & pestle (similar) / copper colander (similar) / cereal bowls / soup plates / turkish towel / cabinet knobs / toaster / framed art / tall tumblers / salt & pepper grinders / shelf brackets

Ah, open kitchen shelving…dreamy, right? (I think so). Open shelving can make a kitchen feel bigger, more open and add a layer of style and personality that upper cabinets just can’t do (don’t get me wrong..I also love beautiful cabinets too). We just finished installing ours and it was the biggest hurdle convincing my husband that they could be practical, functional and also beautiful. That’s the magic unicorn right there! To be fair, it’s kinda intimidating displaying all of your kitchen stuff loud and proud (especially because we all have ugly crap in those cabinets…looking at you, old tupperware containers….) and there is also the issue of dust and grime (these are all things I considered). Ultimately though, it is possible to achieve beautiful open shelf design without sacrificing storage and I’m so glad I made the switch in our kitchen!

I teamed up with the lovely folks at Home Centric to bring you 5 tips to create shelves that looked pulled together and stylish, yet also practical and usable:

1 / Organize & style with functionality in mind

Yes, open shelves are a design statement but they should also be functional (at least in my kitchen). Everyday essentials like plates, bowls and cups should be at arm’s reach, while the more decorative pretty items (and less used) can be placed on the top shelves.


2 / Balance is key

Just like anything decor-related in your home, balance is vital to achieving good design. You don’t want your shelves to feel too cluttered and heavy, so make sure you keep your color palette consistent and group things together (usually in sets of 3) so your eye gets a chance to rest and relax. I love how those copper colanders take up a good amount of real estate without being too busy. And don’t forget to vary the scale of your objects for visual impact!

3 / Mix it up

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (and again..lol) – good design is all about the mix! Don’t be afraid to mix metals and bring in natural wood tones for an effortless and collected look.

4 / Layer in accent pieces

Once you have your everyday items in place, use the rest of the shelf space to add a bit of style and personality. Try leaning a beautiful piece of art or adding a few cookbooks to the mix. And you can never go wrong including some life onto your shelves in the form of flowers or a pretty plant with lots of movement.


5 / Play with color + neutrals

Open shelving setups are usually at their best when grounded in soothing neutrals like warm whites, natural woods and subtle textures. I found that teak mortar & pestle at Home Centric and I love the organic shape and texture it brings to the mix. But don’t forget the color! Try adding pops of color from decor accents or even fruit in a pretty bowl! This will help to create balance and make the neutrals stand out a bit!


sconce / mortar & pestle (similar) / copper colander / cereal bowls / soup plates / turkish towel / cabinet knobs / toaster / framed art / tall tumblers / salt & pepper grinders / marble style bowl / shelf brackets

So that about wraps it up for today. Nothing ground breaking here, but I hope you found my tips helpful especially if you are stumped with how to style your shelves. Just remember to keep it simple above all else and have fun with it!

In case you need a handy little graphic guide, I got ya covered below!


This post is sponsored by Home Centric. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting content that keeps Sunny Circle Studio going!