Styling Open Shelving in the Kitchen

We are still in the process of finishing our kitchen renovation, WE ARE SO CLOSE! I think in a month the kitchen will be 100% completed! ( 1 year and 5 months later but who’s counting) Finishing door fronts, drawers, caulking, installing vent hood, painting island and fridge cabinets… as I’m writing the list its seems like a lot still so I’m going to stop there.

We did get one very exciting task done however, our open shelves are up. They are gorgeous! I’ve gotten a lot of questions on how we did them so I’ll explain very briefly.
HOW WE INSTALLED THE SHELVES: To start, my husband removed the sheet rock and installed plywood to give the shelves something to anchor to, then we did the tile work. Next, he cut butcher block to the size of the shelves we needed. We chose butcher block because we wanted it to match exactly what our island top will be. He then installed three floating brackets for each shelf by drilling them into the grout line. He then drilled three very straight holes into the back of the butcher block shelf where the brackets would go. Then they literally just slide on like a glove. We did three layers of tongue oil and let that dry completely before styling the shelves.


I was so excited to style these shelves! For the most part I already had everything I wanted to put on them anyways but I do hope once the stay at home orders due to corona virus end and businesses open back up, I can maybe find a few pieces or plants to just finish off the look. I highly recommend shopping your own home first though when possible.

These are my tips and tricks to styling open shelves, I tend to side on the minimalist side so strategically I didn’t want too much stuff but I encourage you to play with your own style and keep moving stuff around until you go “heck yes that’s beautiful!”

  1. Start with a clean slate
    Remove everything off the shelf and just start fresh. You don’t want any previous decisions to roadblock you to greatness.

2. Group all your things
Gather all the things you think you may want to put on the shelves. Having everything laid out together helps you identify your color scheme, if your missing a range of sizes and if anything sticks out like it doesn’t belong. For example, I removed the blue teapot because I didn’t feel it went well with the black, white, wood, glass theme I had going on. I decided to keep the orange cookbook and yellow mugs because I wanted small pop of color, that was a personal choice that I may want to change later.


3. Big items first
Put your large items like artwork and cake stands up first, this will help you see the flow of the space and what space your really working with. Also, it’s just awkward to try to fit a large piece in if you have a bunch of small stuff in the way already.

4. Create visual movement
You want your eye to flow from one group to the next, this tip is the key to nailing open shelves.

Group in odd numbers – I like 3’s because then it’s easy to create a group that forms triangles or a size cadence. Single larger items, like a cake stand or large plant can be separated from another grouping to create a nice flow, empty space can be your friend here. I also recommend creating triangles by using different size objects.

Next tip: Put like items, such as color or shapes diagonal from each other. This will make your eye flow from the one piece to the other. I even crossed the glass from the cake stand all the way to the other side of the kitchen and put drinking glasses on bottom. see photo at bottom of post for that example.

Put items with a variety of sizes together. Short with tall or fat with thin can work well together. For example, I put a small bowl next to a stack of chunky books then a tall slender glass vase with greenery.


5. Layer & Stack
Now that you have your large pieces in first, overlap them with smaller or shorter items to create layers. This is an easy way to group your 3’s and create triangles.
If your feeling there is something missing or not flowing right, try stacking smaller objects on top of larger items. The variety in sizes may help the visual flow.

6. Add Life
By life, I mean plants. It is amazing how adding a little greenery to your space instantly elevates it. If your not into being a plant lady or you kill every plant by just looking at it then faux plants are fine. I choose real plants because I love them, I hope to eventually find a pretty planter for this guy.

Lastly, know it’s OK to step away and come back or rearrange later if its just not coming together. Hope this was helpful. I cant wait to share the final reveal once kitchen is completely finished! Follow me on Instagram if you want some sneak peaks.

from my home to yours,


1 Comment

  1. Some of these tips I was familiar with but some were good new ideas! Thanks for sharing and beautiful job! So excited you guys got it done and can enjoy the space!


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