7 cool kitchen shelving ideas that are practical AND stylish

After kitchen shelving ideas? Believe it or not, open shelving CAN make your kitchen appear larger than bulky wall cabinets that block the light. We’ve found 5 great ideas to copy

Kitchen shelving ideas
(Image credit: Ikea)

If, when browsing kitchen shelving ideas, you thought open shelving wasn't for you, it's time to think again. Open shelving IS an acquired taste and for it to work you will need to keep it tidy and organised – perfect for display junkies, though. But what about the dust? We’ve found from experience that it’s not an issue, because you are using your shelving every day, so there’s no time for dust to settle and you can easily give them a wipe before putting back your pieces in the evening. 

Another bonus is that you can see where everything is, no searching high and low for that favourite mug your aunt likes her tea in – it can take pride of place ready for her visits. Lastly, it’s relatively inexpensive, you can make your own if you are DIY-efficient, or look out for vintage shelves at charity shops and car boots, or invest in the ones below that we’ve found... 

For more kitchen ideas, go to our dedicated design gallery.

  • Check out our #shelfie guide to decorating shelves too for more ideas

1. Show off your best pieces on kitchen shelving

Kitchen shelving ideas

(Image credit: Life Kitchens)

If you love the open plan look then consider these bespoke shelves from the Refined range at Life Kitchen. Their kitchens always offer great storage solutions that are both relaxed in style and modern and keeping your tableware out on show can add a decorative touch to your space. The jet black metal looks great teamed with the blond wood back, and provides a neutral space for your plates and bowls to shine. Obviously you need to keep them tidy – that’s the downside, but we reckon it’s worth it, right? 

2. Fill that awkward gap with this kitchen shelving idea

Kitchen shelving ideas

(Image credit: Ikea)

Sometimes – and this often happens in older properties that have wonky wall quirks – wall units don’t fit the spaces we wish them to and there’s that funny little gap left. This is where you can pop in a wall shelf or two so you’re maximising the space and creating a break in the scheme as Ikea have done with their TRANHULT/SANDSHULT. The unit on the left above the sink is nice and wide, but that has left a narrow space on the right. We love how they’ve added a task light to the wall which highlights the shelf, you can use it for recipe books and vases that aren’t in use. 

3. Pick minimalist kitchen shelving for a pared back look

Kitchen shelving ideas

(Image credit: String Furniture)

We’ve long been fans of String shelving; the Swedish designed system by Nils Strinning back in 1949 is super versatile and you can create your own configurations using the individual pieces. Start with one component and then increase your shelving as you require more space – from top to bottom and from side to side – whatever suits your space and your needs. Aside from the white metal, there’s wooden and coloured finishes and some versions come pre-built so all you need to do is attach them to the wall in your chosen place – win win! 

4. Match kitchen shelving to the wall behind

Kitchen shelving ideas

(Image credit: Sainsbury's Home)

This has the effect of making the kitchen as a whole feel sleeker. We love this all-wooden kitchen which showcases Sainsbury’s Nordic Spring tableware and secondly, whoever thought of putting a ladder style wall unit on the worktop is genius! It’s sleek and stylish with oodles of Swedish style practicality – the nearest we’ve come up with to copy this idea is Next’s Oakley wooden storage shelves – if you’re handy with a drill you could easily fix this to the wall on the worktop or properly wall-mount it. The other alternative is to ask a joiner to make you one. 

5. Make run-of-the-mill kitchen accessories into a stylish display

Kitchen shelving ideas

(Image credit: Dunelm)

A useful thing about this kitchen shelving idea? It shows how easy it is to use everything from chopping boards, salt and pepper, tumblers for the kids' drinks to herbs and spices to create a display that's very good looking. They can all be out on show when you use them daily – the bonus of popping them on the shelf is that it keeps your worktop clear and clutter-free. These lovely acacia wood bits and bobs are all from Dunelm.

6. Cheat a traditional kitchen shelving idea with paint

Kitchen shelves in vintage kitchen

(Image credit: The National Trust)

Want a traditional feel in your kitchen? These shelves are made with simple lengths of pine and wooden brackets, all painted in a stylish, period shade. This is such a lovely rustic look, but putting shelves around or above a sink is really practical too. Everything is on show and in easy reach. Mix up you colours and patterns for a more bold look or copy this kitchen shelving idea and opt for a subtle colour palette. 

7. Tiny space? This cute kitchen shelving idea is for you

If you are squeezed for storage space in your kitchen but don't have the room/don't want to add more cabinets, this kitchen shelving idea is a great solution. You can stick it up in a space that would otherwise go unused like this little corner. This lovely set up has been created using cute bracket shelves (Ikea's Sandshult always look fab) and a rail for even more storage. 

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