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Kitchen cabinets & open shelves

Open Shelves vs. Kitchen Cabinets?

Which is better, upper cabinets or open shelves in the kitchen? If you are going on a kitchen remodeling journey, there will come a point when you will consider this subject and seek answers.

To address the long-standing dispute between open shelves and cabinets, we’ve examined the advantages and disadvantages of each and offered some inventive solutions for those seeking the best of both worlds.

Pros of Open Shelving

Open shelves

It’s Trending

Nowadays, minimalism is “in,” so adding a floating shelf or two can help your kitchen feel more open and airy. It suits especially when you keep the amount and type of goods on the show to a minimum. Open shelves can serve as an elegant yet subtle focal point in a room when done correctly. Similarly, You can consider a stunning raw wood shelf in an unsophisticated kitchen.

Enhance the Functionality of your Kitchen

When everything is easily accessible, life becomes simpler—you can grab and go. By storing more often used things on easily accessible shelves, you save the need to open drawers and hunt for items. Having what you need closely streamlines kitchen productivity and saves valuable time.


If money is a factor in your interior design decisions, try installing shelving. Installing shelves is a cost-effective and innovative approach to keeping inside your budget.

Displays Wall Colors and Unique Items

Do you have exposed brickwork that you’d like to preserve? Would you like to cover one wall in your kitchen with wallpaper or paint it a different color? Consider extending the backsplash tile to the ceiling. Well, all these ideas add visual interest to a room and are a compelling reason to incorporate standard or floating kitchen shelves into your design plan.

Additionally, bookcases and additional wall space present an ideal opportunity for decorating. Consider displaying that lovely vase you’ve been meaning to hide or using shelves to house matching glass spice jars or a selection of wooden cutting boards for a charming yet practical appearance. Shelves are also an excellent spot to celebrate; add and remove seasonal objects like pumpkins, flowers, or evergreen trimmings.

Cons of Open Shelving

Minimal Storage Space

The majority of open or floating shelves have far less capacity than locked cabinets. Additionally, if you are remodeling a small kitchen, you are probably already experiencing a storage shortage. Unfortunately, lower cabinets alone will likely not provide enough storage.

Additional Cleaning Required

Shelf maintenance is critical to maintaining a clean appearance. So, kitchens are prone to dust and grease, and removing a mix of the two long-forgotten dishes or decor is never a joy. If you’re unwilling to put in the additional effort, choose closed cabinets.

Can Appear Disorganized

Without attention, shelves can appear crowded and cluttered. To avoid this, it’s advisable to develop a theme for the items you display and to adhere to the “less is more” principle (cut down to avoid including too many pieces). Then, take the time to thoughtfully arrange each item on the shelf to complement rather than detract from the overall design sense.

Everything Must Be Exhibition-Quality

Usually, not everyone has a whole set of matching mugs or dishes in mint condition.

Do you mind if items are out of sync or imperfect? If you do, you risk having two homes for the same object; for instance, immaculate dishes on display and ordinary dishes hidden behind closed doors. This duplication is a waste of space; therefore, avoid open shelves in favor of closed cabinets if they fit your lifestyle better.

Pros of Kitchen Cabinets

Kitchen cabinets

Numerous Cabinet Design Options

Upper kitchen cabinets contribute to the definition of your design style. There are countless cabinet door styles to choose from, ranging from traditional to modern and everything in between. You can further customize your doors by adding distinctive handles, knobs, and hardware and extending the look to the kitchen island or adjacent mudroom.

Consult a designer for information on the newest cabinet door trends, colors, and materials.

Additional Storage Space

Additional storage space is always appreciated. Indeed, many people underestimate the amount of enclosed storage they require. Keep in mind that you not only store dishes in your kitchen but also food, cookbooks, linens, cutlery, baking supplies, and cleaning goods!

Small appliances and large pots take up an unbelievable lot of space and should be stored in locked cupboards or a pantry to avoid the area looking cluttered.

Simpler To Clean

Kitchen cabinet doors safeguard the contents of the cabinet against dust and pollutants. Therefore, if you’re searching for a low-maintenance choice, upper cabinetry may be the way to go.

Hides Excessively Cluttered Areas

Similarly, the ability to close a door enables you to conceal clutter. Additionally, there are some clever techniques to maximize the utilization of small places and store irregularly shaped goods. A recent organizing trend in kitchen design is cleverly constructed separators, pull-out shelves, and narrow cabinets to maximize available space.

Cons of Kitchen Cabinets


Upper cabinets are more expensive than open shelves, particularly if you optimize your storage capacity by installing upper cabinets that stretch to the ceiling. However, they are a safe investment, as large storage is advantageous for resale purposes.

Over Time, There Will Be Wear And Tear

Over time, your kitchen cabinets will exhibit signs of wear and tear. We’ve all seen cabinet doors that are misaligned or drooping and deformed drawers, and troubling hinges. You will avoid these concerns if you select high-quality, durable cabinetry. Similarly, the type of material utilized and how a cabinet makes a significant difference!

Demonstrate Dirt And Stains

With all the wear a cabinet door receives, it is bound to get dinged and scratched from time to time. Additionally, you may see water damage or stains.

Consider the newer textured melamine cabinet doors to balance aesthetic and functionality. (They are scratch and fade-resistant and easy to clean!)

Confused? Go for Shelves with Glass Fronts

Glass front cabinets

If you’re attracted to both styles, that’s fantastic! Adding variety to your kitchen will give it personality.

Once you’ve determined the number of cabinets you require, there are numerous inventive methods including floating shelves. Consider exploring hidden nooks, the space above a window, or adding some shelves to the side of a cabinet.

Another approach to obtaining a collaborative design is incorporating cabinets with glass front doors. Your kitchen will feel more spacious and bright; you’ll be able to showcase your favorite objects and avoid the continual cleaning required by open shelves. Additionally, you are not confined to typical transparent glass. Depending on your preference, you can choose from seeded, textured, frosted, or leaded glass.

Elements KBF will Assemble It All for You!

Interior designers are a treasure trove of knowledge; they are remodeling experts and masters of spatial organization. Our designers will look at your cabinets and shelving wish list and offer suggestions. Finally, they’ll assist you in making the greatest selections for your dream kitchen.

For expert advice about custom cabinetry, kitchen design, and renovation services in the Fort Lauderdale area, connect with Element’s professional designers or visit us!

Read More: Why choose custom kitchen cabinets?

Comments (2)

  1. Afton Jackson
    August 1, 2022

    Adding more functionality to our kitchen is something that would be greatly appreciated by my wife. This could be a great way for us to properly remodel the space and make it extremely easy to maneuver and work in.

  2. Daniel
    August 3, 2022

    Great advice in this article! Making small changes can have a big impact. Thank you for sharing!

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