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What To Put On Open Kitchen Shelves — A Decor Pro Gets To The Bottom Of This Conundrum

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Considering a kitchen upgrade? One of the latest interior design trends just might be the change you're craving. Some of the chicest homes of late are ditching the doors on their cabinets and opting to have their goods on display — literally. But trying this out can be intimidating for novices, since it means being a bit more organized and strategic in terms what to put on open kitchen shelves. That said, with the right tips and tricks, this technique can help you modernize and personalize your kitchen, plus give it a lighter, brighter feel.

As Merlin Wright, Design Director of kitchen design company Plain English (which also happens to have an affordable, ready-made cupboard brand, British Standard Cupboards) explains, "You can enhance a sense of space by using open shelving instead of wall cupboards." In addition to allowing you to show off some of your favorite pieces — heirloom or handcrafted dinnerware or your favorite cookbooks for example — trying this design trend in lieu of traditional cabinets can also make your kitchen feel bigger by removing some of the bulk, which is why it's especially beneficial for smaller spaces.

But once your doors are gone, there's no hiding any clutter, which means you'll want to be extra strategic about how you style your newly open shelves. So if you're game to try it out, but you're stuck on what to store and what to get rid of — plus wondering how to put at all together like the pro — check out the tips from Wright ahead and see if this is a design solution you can really live with.

Sarah Elliot for Plain English

Organize By Most-Used

Having a beautiful kitchen is one thing, but it still needs to be functional. That said, arrange items according to their frequency of use, so they're readily available. "One of the benefits of using open shelving is that objects can be seen, so they are more likely to be used," explains Wright. "Hard to reach shelves can be used for displaying collections of treasures or artworks."

Utilize Stylish Storage

To keep clutter at bay, while offering a pleasing visual, find storage containers that are meant to be seen. This is especially great for displaying some your pantry goods. "Small items can be collected and displayed in jars and baskets," offers Wright. Mason jars are great vehicles for items like dried beans or rice, while baskets can help disguise items that aren't particularly aesthetically pleasing. But if you've got some chic culinary goods, let 'em shine.

Consider the Composition

Don't forget to factor in height. By switching things up, you can make your selves more visually interesting. "You can have fun with creating pleasing compositions of objects — tall things, short things, stacks, piles and so on," says Wright. For example, an easy way to add a bit of height is with a tall vase of fresh flowers. You can place it next to something shorter, like a row of tumblers, for a nice juxtaposition.

Consider Color

Have a little fun with the on display aspect of this design choice, and utilize some color. Not only can this be a way of adding a pop to an otherwise minimalist scheme, but it can also be a trick to making things seem a bit more organized. "Create a sense of order on your shelves by grouping things together by color," suggests Wright. "Within your color groupings, consider adding a few highlight colors here or there, as a counterpoint to the rest of the scheme."