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Open shelving ideas for your kitchen renovation

Open shelves are a great way to add a point of difference or a focal point to your kitchen. They can break up big areas of doors/drawers to create more interest and also allow you to personalise the space by showcasing items that reflect your personality. Open shelves can be used to showcase nice crockery, cookbooks, small potted plants, collections, keepsakes, family photographs, decor and so much more. If you'd like to add open shelves to your kitchen but you're not sure how, we have put together some ideas for you below:


1 | Location

There are a few places where you can consider adding open shelves in your kitchen:

  • Overheads - this could be some shelves tucked between your overhead cupboards, or you can replace your overhead cupboards with shelves altogether. Consider adding 2-3 floating shelves or a single shelf at the top of your splashback for a more minimal look.

  • Base cabinetry - use this strategically to create a feature. I like adding open shelves on one end of the island bench or at the end of a back bench that faces into the dining

  • On the splashback - adding a shallow shelf on your splashback about 150mm below the overheads could make the perfect place to store small items like spices.

  • To break up tall cabinetry - if you have a large section of tall cabinetry, you can break this up by adding a vertical or horizontal strip of open shelves.

  • Inside a bar or appliance cupboard - not only do shelves look great inside a bar/appliance nook, but they are very practical

kitchen renovation custom cabinetry joinery, black benchtop, Lamine Surf, 2pac Dulux Orange Squash open shelf
Brighton Residence

2 | Material & Colours

You may choose to feature the shelves themselves or to make them more subtle so that only the items on the shelves stand out. You can do this by either contrasting the shelving material to the surrounding surfaces or by using the same colour/material instead. Some materials and colours to consider are:

  • Timber or timber-look laminate - this is a very popular look for shelves as it can add a lot of warmth to the space without having to use timber anywhere else in the kitchen. If you have timber flooring, we recommend selecting a similar timber tone for the shelves.

  • Match the walls - for a subtle look on floating shelves, you can have them be the same paint colour as the wall behind them

  • Match the cabinetry - if your shelves are tucked between two overhead cabinets, you can continue with the same colour as the cabinets for a more subtle look instead

  • Black - making the shelves black is a great way of making them pop without adding any other colours or textures. This works particularly well if you have black cabinetry handles and/or tapware.

  • Coloured shelves - You can add a pop of colour to your kitchen by making the shelves coloured instead. However, consider how this colour will work with the items you plan to place on top!

  • Metal - black metal shelves look fantastic if you're after more of an industrial look. You can also add metal supports to any shelves in a finish to match your cabinetry handles and/or tapware as an extra detail.

  • Glass - glass shelves look great inside bar cupboards or behind glass doors where they are safe from dust.

  • Stone - a little trickier to accomplish due to needing a sturdy substrate to hold the weight but it looks amazing if done right! You can consider adding a stone shelf to the top of your stone splashback.


Kitchen renovation, modern custom joinery cabinetry, Dulux Companion navy blue with Caesarstone Bianco Drift benchtops
Bayside Residence

3 | Backdrop

If you want to take your shelves to the next level, it's important to consider what will be seen behind them. If you're adding floating shelves, it is usually just painted wall that will be seen, but if you want to add a point of interest and texture, you can consider these ideas instead:

  • Continue with the same material/colour as the shelves on the wall behind them

  • Continue the splashback behind the open shelves, whether this is tiles, stone or a glass/mirror splashback.

  • Add different tiles behind them - this can mean swapping to a different coloured/style tile if you already have a a tiled splashback below or can mean swapping from a stone/glass/mirror splashback to tiles instead.

  • Add VJ paneling - this can add a very subtle texture if painted the same colour as other walls.

  • Paint the wall behind a contrasting colour


4 | Dimensions

I like to keep shelves in kitchens at 350-400mm deep so that they match the depth of overhead cupboards. The space between shelves will be determined by the height available and amount of shelves you'd like to place, but ideally you would want at least 250mm between them. If you have something specific in mind to place on the shelves, we recommend measuring these first to decide on the depth and heights to ensure your shelves are tailored to your needs.


I hope these ideas have been helpful! If you want to find out more about how we can help you with your project, get in contact with us below:

Have a wonderful week!


Nina xx

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