Open Shelving vs Cabinetry – Basic Kitchen Storage Choices


Kitchen Storage | Madison WI | Sims Exteriors & Remodeling
When your decorating style and storage demands lean toward keeping it simple, open shelves make sense.

If you’re dreaming of a new kitchen and exploring the options, you are aware of the trends in kitchen storage. You have choices to make when remodeling your Madison WI kitchen. Below the countertops, enclosed cabinets are the rule, but above offers more room for creativity.

There are two broad categories of above-the-counter storage:  traditional cupboards with doors and open shelves. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. The obvious advantage to doors is they keep what’s inside out of sight. Mismatched dishes and glassware are hidden away. Behind closed doors “clutter” isn’t apparent. One of the biggest drawbacks to open shelves is dust, kitchen airborne grease and grime can be an issue, especially on pieces you don’t use every day.

Evaluate Kitchen Storage Options

As you page through design publications and devour home improvement TV there are questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you have a lot to store?
  • Do you have a collection or special pieces you want to show off?
  • Is your kitchen small – or does it feel that way?
  • Are you well organized?
  • Does your lifestyle and family routine lend itself to more than routine cleaning?

The answers to these questions point you toward the best solutions for your kitchen. There’s no right answer. Everyone’s needs are different. Your No. 1 goal is to create a kitchen you and your family can enjoy, isn’t it? That means one that not only looks stylish but is efficient and functional at the same time.

The process begins with an inventory of your kitchen. Look closely at what’s there today. How much of it is absolutely necessary? Are there appliances or other things that could be better stored somewhere else? Do you have a panty? Would adding a pantry take some of the stress from other storage options for the kitchen?

What do you have to store? Most homeowners have at least a small collection of “special dishes,” unique kitchenware or decorative accessories. They are only called upon for special occasions so needn’t be “front and center.” Essentials get the prime spots – pots, pans, everyday dishes and glassware.

If you have a lot of items to store exposed shelves pose some problems:

  1. They are harder to keep looking “tidy” and organized.
  2. It is harder to keep items dusted when there are more of them.
  3. Open shelves holding a lot of pieces tend to look cluttered.
  4. If you’re using the shelves for pots and pans, there might be a weight issue.

Open Shelves Allow You To ‘Show Off’

Kitchen Storage | Madison WI | Sims Exteriors & Remodeling
In an ultramodern kitchen glass-front cabinets provide visual impact while protecting dishes.

The biggest advantage of open shelve storage in the kitchen, beyond finding things without opening doors, is being able to show of personal “treasures.” Open shelves immediately spotlight what’s on them. Cabinets with doors have proven the most functional over the decades but open shelves add to a kitchen layout.

When you display your colorful dishes and accessories on open shelves the kitchen takes on a brighter, more open appearance. Your collectables and fine china immediately become the focal point of the room – real attention-getters for guests.

In addition to putting special pieces in their best light, opening up the storage space has a way of making a small space feel bigger. If you have a kitchen layout that you cannot expand by moving a wall or adding a bump-out, limiting cabinets is an option. Or, if your kitchen has more than one window with a gap between them, a series of shelves in that space adds storage quickly. When you need more storage but traditional cabinets aren’t a good fit, open shelves – mounted on the wall or free-standing – make sense. Making the most of all your available space is a solid decision isn’t it?

Kitchen Storage Boosts Kitchen Organization

The No. 1 drawback of open kitchen shelves is that everything is in full view all the time. Not only does that literally open the door to dust and dirt, it showcases your organization skill. If you don’t have a lot of pieces to store, are willing to clean more often than most and have a family that appreciates order, open shelves are ideal. If not, traditional cabinets make more sense – keeping potential clutter behind closed doors!

Kitchen Storage | Madison WI | Sims Exteriors & Remodeling
Traditional, stained wood cabinets remain the No. 1 choice for storage in the kitchen.

A prominent New York City interior designer says “open shelves in the kitchen are ideal for homeowners with small children who cannot reach them and for adults with no children at home. With teenagers in the house – who tend to put things in cabinets any way they’ll fit – I recommend doors!”

Does that fit your family lifestyle? There’s a third option that combines the best of both choices: kitchen cabinets with glass-front doors. Cabinet doors with clear glass fronts allow you to see inside but still keep dishes safe and clean. Frosted or colored glass makes a statement and helps open up the space visually. You can mix solid doors with glass fronts in the same room, too.

Lifestyle And Personality Dictate Kitchen Storage Choice

There’s no right or wrong when it comes to selecting storage solutions for your new kitchen. When you start sorting through cabinet styles, hardware and colors you’ll recognize it comes down to what you like best. What works for your family? As plans take shape only you can make that decision.

Interior design is about personality and individual style. If you like it and it works in your daily routine, it’s right. The bottom line: it’s your kitchen, it’s your choice.

For advice and counsel on how best to breathe fresh air into your kitchen call Sims Exteriors & Remodeling at 608-825-4500 or email us to begin the process. Take advantage of our years of experience, craftsmanship and attention to detail when it comes providing kitchen storage solutions to homeowners throughout the Madison WI area.

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