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Open Up

by habituallychic

07 . 21 . 08

When I saw the open shelved kitchen above that Thom Filicia designed in the new August 2008 issue of Domino, I immediately thought of a similar little cottage kitchen that Steven Gambrel designed below. And then it had me thinking about all the open shelves and glass doors on shelves I’ve been noticing lately. They look great but I can’t decide if it’s something that only design obsessed perfectionists could live with since everything has to look, for the most part, in order. What do you think? Can real people live with open shelves?

Comments Closed

  1. Robin July 21, 2008 | 12:57 am

    I love the open shelving look, and I think I could keep it pretty orderly and neat, but I would worry about keeping it clean. There’s so much dust and grease in the kitchen. I’d hate to have to wipe down every bowl, dish, pan and glass every two days just to keep everything clean after a marathon cooking session.

  2. Habitually Chic July 21, 2008 | 1:00 am

    Robin, I was thinking about that too. I think part of the reason for the doors is to definitely keep out dust. If you go with open shelves, I would think you would have to turn all the glasses upside down for sure.

  3. mandco July 21, 2008 | 1:11 am

    I love the look, but could’nt have it myself… with grease and dust it would be a full time job keeping things pristine, and also I have a “collection” of unmatching pots and pans, and I’d rather keep that behind closed doors;-) But it beautiful though, and I think its perfect for beach houses, were its ok if things are abit rustic looking, or in a city appartment were people don’t cook 😉

  4. karina July 21, 2008 | 2:16 am

    I love the look but I am no so net and dust is an important item in real life.

  5. Be the change..... July 21, 2008 | 3:41 am

    I have to agree wth them -while I love how it looks, things get SO dusty! I know the things on top of my cupboards are always filthy when I try to use them. For display that is fine. I vote for glass cabinets everyday. It’s especially nice if the visible sides of the cabinets are glass too for maximum visability.

  6. stljoie July 21, 2008 | 4:08 am

    Not I…too much stuff.

  7. MaryBeth July 21, 2008 | 4:30 am

    I love the look but I could never do it. The dirt and dust. I thought about glass doors so I would still get the visual but decided against that because it would drive me crazy if the stacks of dishes didn’t look perfect in each cabinet. Some things always look better in a magazine not in real life, at least not in mine.

  8. jonathan July 21, 2008 | 4:44 am

    this is a great collection of photos.
    i personally covet having nothing above the lower cabinets and stashing everything in a pantry.

  9. Anonymous July 21, 2008 | 5:35 am

    I ripped out a bank of cabinets in my cottage and put in shelving with corbels and painted them white. I love them even after 2 yrs. I keep the plates and glasses(upside down) pretty simple and I entertain alot. The extra quick rinse doesn’t bother me. Being raised on a ranch helps and I have a good immune system. Ginny

  10. Naz July 21, 2008 | 1:12 pm

    It’s one thing to look pretty in a magazine, it’s another thing altogether to be practical in real life. Even glasses placed upside down gather dust and grime from a kitchen. If one lone shelf is used as a decoration then perhaps that’s all you need to have the “open concept”.
    I also question hanging dish towels over a gas stove. That’s a fire just waiting to happen. Like I stated in the beginning, magazine pictures vs real life, well it’s just not practical.

  11. Emma @ White and Wander July 21, 2008 | 1:18 pm

    Stuff the dust – I too am design perfectionist and absolutely hate cupboard doors – I agree with Johnathan – I much prefer having no above cupboards and the secret pantry stash for the sake of style xx

  12. Emma @ White and Wander July 21, 2008 | 1:19 pm

    PS – Thom is the bomb! I also posted on his house on my blog … he is my dream gay husband xx

  13. M.A. Breuer July 21, 2008 | 1:42 pm

    As a professional space organizer, I think the inside of cupboards should always look good (with or without doors). But it is sometimes tough to maintain that “inner organization” when sharing a kitchen with family members. A friend of mine has the answer: she has no cupboards – only windows all around and some drawers below the counter-tops. But she built a room next to her kitchen with easy access to her stove, etc. That room is long and filled with open shelves for food, dishes, glasses and pots and pans. The lighting is excellent and she can easily get to everything.

  14. FancyPants-design July 21, 2008 | 3:03 pm

    Wow. great kitchens! I really love the look of open shelves.. hmmm..not sure if I could keep them neat though…

  15. kristine July 21, 2008 | 3:13 pm

    my husband and i are having this “debate” right now- i want to see my things all the time- then i’m more inspired to use them ! no open shelves around the stove, less glassware is more- and of course a spacious pantry….this post will help me bring my point home ! thank you ! kristine

  16. Jessica @ The Love List July 21, 2008 | 3:20 pm

    I love this look and have often thought about doing it in my own kitchen – it is certainly a cheaper alternative to installing cabinets! I saw Ruthie Sommers do this in the Flower Films offices’ kitchen, and saw it again online at Domino when photographer Matt Alibiani had his kitchen like this as well, full of beautiful white dishes and even a cute fishy glug jug. You can see it here: http://www.dominomag.com/howtos/advice/video/2008/06/albiani

    Have a great week!

  17. Jessica Claire July 21, 2008 | 4:08 pm

    it is so stunning but you have to use everything that’s out frequently – otherwise you become a slave to dust!

  18. Anonymous July 21, 2008 | 4:27 pm

    If there are 2 like minded people in the house, I think it works. If there are more than 2 (i.e., families, multiple roommates), it’s rare that things will stay orderly without someone spending a lot of time cleaning up after everyone else

  19. d July 21, 2008 | 5:18 pm

    If you are willing to clean EVERYTHING before you use it and after, open shelving can be beautiful.

  20. Anonymous July 21, 2008 | 6:10 pm

    Count me among the “no” votes. Although open shelves are lovely, I wouldn’t want it in my house. Dirt? Ew. Double dish washing? Ew, Ew. I much prefer glass-fronted cabinets to offer the semi-open look while still keeping my dishes clean.

  21. Anonymous July 21, 2008 | 6:13 pm

    Don’t think this is actually much of a debate. There are closed cabinets in all these photos. The designers have simply chosen to display their fine pieces out in the open and stuff the unmatching pieces away.

  22. beth July 21, 2008 | 6:14 pm

    Yummy, I love all the white 🙂

  23. morrismore July 21, 2008 | 8:30 pm

    We opted to have some open shelves in our kitchen but keep only items that are used regularly on them. That way, they remain clean, which is a good thing for the two compulsives that live there (I had thought about having our kitchen towels monogrammed OCD but thought better of it…)

  24. pve design July 21, 2008 | 8:57 pm

    yes, yes, yes. yes to open shelves for larger items that you use daily…. we have an open shelf for serving dishes and a large wooden salad bowl. I love how easy they are to just grab and use. It needs to be for things that you use and not just to collect dust and then have to clean.

  25. susan July 22, 2008 | 2:54 pm

    Absolutely, positively, open shelves are fantastic!

    As a kitchen designer, I try to have my own kitchen as a laboratory, and I’ve lived with open shelves for all of my dishes and many serving bowls for 5 years. They’re nearby, they’re used frequently, so dust does not accumulate, they’re stacked, so dust doesn’t accumulate on the individual pieces, they’re away from the cooking area so grease is not a factor.

    If I’m grabbing a less frequently used glass type, I’ll just do a quick rinse if I think about it, and it helps that the sink is nearby my shelves.

    It’s not for everyone, but for me, the look is fantastic and the function is even better. Love them, and loves these images!

  26. Topsy Turvy July 22, 2008 | 4:10 pm

    I love open shelving, but you do have to rinse the dust off before using things! I now have glass-front cabinets, and they are so easy to maintain. All you do is arrange things once, and then, after using, return items to their designated spot.


  27. Joslyn July 22, 2008 | 8:53 pm

    this is a great post…so much eye candy. i’m a total sucker for open shelving. love.it. practicality be damned.

  28. coco+kelley July 23, 2008 | 3:53 pm

    love this collection! my favorite might be the simple sideboard/cart idea vs. actual pieces in the kitchen… but i do love the look it brings to a space!

  29. katiedid July 24, 2008 | 1:16 am

    I vote a resounding YES! I have a Bulter’s Pantry with glass doors for dishes used less frequently. But for daily use dishes, it is perfect. There is no need to wash them before use as you have just used them for your prior meal. And, as mentioned before, there are always areas for closed storage as well. Love the look!

  30. Abbey Goes Design Scouting August 4, 2008 | 2:19 am

    I love this post!!!!

  31. Helena August 11, 2008 | 5:03 pm

    I really like the open cabinet look, but I would definitely have glass doors or I can’t imagine the work just to have those glasses without dust on them.
    Shelves is for people who have a lot of free time or just to look good in magazines.

  32. floyd September 7, 2008 | 6:20 pm

    I have open shelving and have not had any problems with dust or grease. The secret: not having them open around the stove area.

  33. Anonymous June 30, 2009 | 1:33 pm

    I am living with open shelves and contrary to most, the cleaning is minimal and if you use the glasses and wares often dust doesn’t get a chance to acumulate.Like floyd said just keep them away from the stove area.