Open shelves make kitchens look spacious

08/15/2014 7:00 AM

08/15/2014 5:20 PM

More homeowners are ditching wall-mounted boxes in the kitchen for a more open, spacious look, especially when the room is small.

Upper cabinets are valuable because they give us storage for glasses, dishes and canned goods. But visually the result is often a sea of wood or an ocean of white, especially now that cabinets are running all the way to the ceiling.

Eliminating upper cabinets allows you to add color to your kitchen, makes items more accessible, improves your view and provides display space for your treasures.

Finding an alternative storage spot for items isn’t as tough as you might think, and the benefits far outweigh the downside. Turn a nearby closet into a pantry, install pull-out drawers in lower cabinets so items are easier to see and reach. Plates can go into lower drawers. Better yet, do some serious housekeeping and pitch all those mismatched glasses, jelly jars and chipped dishes.

Start by taking down your existing cabinets and patching the wall. You don’t have to take down all of them. Just do one or two sections, and you have a good start on updating the look of the room.

Next, install wooden or metal shelving. Ikea, for example, has affordable wooden floating shelves that are sturdy and look attractive in any style of kitchen.

Easier yet, simply take the doors off some of your existing upper cabinets. Patch holes from the hinges and hardware, and you’re ready to rock that kitchen by adding color. Try painting the back of the cabinet interiors with a pop of coral, lime green, blue or whatever works with your color palette. You can even use chalkboard paint and jot down measurement charts, favorite recipes or little sketches.

Wallpaper is making a comeback and works well inside cabinets. Depending on the paper you select, it can add color, texture and pattern. All three make for a more interesting kitchen.

Let your everyday treasures supply color. Artfully arrange a tea pot collection or Fiesta Ware dishes inside open cabinets or on a shelf.

I like to paint the wall or the back of the cabinet in a dark, dramatic color such as chocolate, slate gray or cranberry and display all my white dishes, bowls and platters that I use every day. They are easier to access and I find I use them much more often than when they are shoved in the back of a lower cabinet.

Can’t take down the cabinets or can’t afford to give up the storage space? Why not install shelves over the kitchen windows? Especially if your view is less than stellar, turning the windows into colorful, useful display areas is a smart use of space.

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