How To Style Open Kitchen Shelving

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8 simple, universal tips & tricks for styling open kitchen shelving that can be applied to any shelf, in any room, regardless of personal style.

Cottage farmhouse kitchen with open shelving styled for summer.

I am beyond excited to finally be sharing our open kitchen shelving on the blog! This is one of my favorite parts of our recent kitchen renovation and DIY’s that we have completed to date. I’ve wanted open kitchen shelving for years, so to finally have this in our kitchen is a dream come true for my shelf loving heart!

While this part of the kitchen renovation was just recently finished, I have already styled our open kitchen shelving two times! You can view the first photos I shared of our new open kitchen shelving here, in our summer home tour.

This past weekend as I was playing around with the décor on our open kitchen shelf, I thought I would share with you a few tips that help me to create visually appealing open kitchen shelves and will hopefully help you!

Open kitchen shelving tips & tricks for a cozy kitchen.

The Basics of Styling Open Kitchen Shelving

  • Combine old and new objects.
  • Use items of varying heights.
  • Add layers to create depth.
  • Stick to a color palette.
  • Add natural elements.
  • Mix materials. Wood, glass, metal, linens are just a few examples.
Cottage farmhouse kitchen decor that is cozy & functional.

8 Tips for Styling Open Kitchen Shelving

The best part about these tips is that they are universal. They should not be limited to the kitchen or to a specific design style. These tips can be applied to any open shelving, in any room, regardless of personal style.

1. Find Anchor Pieces

The easiest way for me to style a shelf is to start with the anchor pieces. Anchors are items that first catch your eye, they are usually the largest objects, and they help to create balance on the shelf. For these shelves, the anchor pieces I used were, a group of cookbooks and a silver trophy.

Cookbooks placed in the kitchen for country farmhouse decor.

I placed the group of cookbooks in the center of our shelf. Adding the tallest cookbooks in the middle of the grouping with the smallest cookbooks on the outside.

When I add books to a shelf, I make sure that they are not lined in uniform. Some books are forward on the shelf while others are further back. I also have some books with the spines facing forward, and others with the spines facing backwards. This all helps to add texture and depth to the shelves.

A large silver urn looks beautiful in a cottage farmhouse kitchen.

The other anchor piece I added on the right side of the shelf was a large, vintage silver trophy. I turned slightly so that the handles would be visible from all angles. And, I made sure the trophy inscription was facing forward (it adds so much character to this vintage piece and the shelf)!

2. Keep to a Color Scheme

I love a neutral color palette. I am drawn to woods and whites with a small pop of color (depending on the season). Whatever your personal preference, stick to a color scheme to keep your shelves looking neat and cohesive.

Kitchen decor on open kitchen shelving should be cohesive.

3. Create Layers & Add Height

This tip is essential to creating a shelf that has depth and interest.

Create layers on shelves by having some items pushed towards the back and other items toward the front. I also like to lean objects against the wall, stacking pieces to created a layered look. This creates depth and keeps the shelves from looking flat, dull, and boring.

Silver urn & group of pears on open kitchen shelving.

Add items of varying heights. This helps the eyes to move from piece to piece on the shelf, creating visual interest. If something isn’t tall enough, don’t worry! Add a stack of dishes or bowls beneath the item to make it appear taller.

Instead of just adding a group of pears to the shelf, I placed the pears on a stack of dishes to give them height. Not only do the stack of dishes add height but they also add layers.

Cottage farmhouse decor on open shelves in the kitchen.

4. Mix Materials on Open Kitchen Shelving

Mix a variety of cohesive materials on open kitchen shelving for visual interest.

Add materials that compliment one another on open kitchen shelving. Wood, glass, metal, linens are just a few examples.

Mix materials on open kitchen shelving for a cozy feeling.

5. Use Groups of Odd Numbers

It is scientifically proven that our eyes are drawn to groups of odd numbers!

I like to group similar items in 3’s, but any group of odd numbers will keep the shelf visually appealing.

Use groups of odd numbers when decorating shelves in the kitchen.
Cottage farmhouse decor in the kitchen with a candle.

6. Decorate With Natural Elements

Natural elements are super simple way to add texture and visual interest to open kitchen shelving.

Natural elements are key to cozy kitchen shelf styling.

On this shelf, I added fresh pears and fresh hydrangea stems (cut right from our yard). Two of my favorite natural elements to decorate with, especially in late summer.

A large silver urn looks beautiful in a cottage farmhouse kitchen.

You do not have to use fresh natural elements. Faux fruit and faux/dried floral stems are great options as well. They can be just as beautiful and will last much longer. Afloral is my favorite go-to online shop for faux florals.

7. Make Open Kitchen Shelving Cozy

Create cozy kitchen shelving by adding new and vintage pieces to the shelves as well as decorating with pieces that are special to your family.

Cozy open kitchen shelving includes lots of textures.

On our kitchen shelf, I used a mixture of new and old cookbooks. I also added a page from one of my old Julia Child cookbooks to the new gold frame leaning against the wall.

For another layer of coziness, I used our wedding china dessert plates underneath the group of pears. Small, simple touches like this are what make a home feel extra special and cozy.

Cottage farmhouse kitchen with open shelving styled for summer.

Candles add coziness too! Just make sure the flame of the candle it not too close to the ceiling or any other pieces on your shelves (my hubby is good at reminding me of this…insert eye roll). This country pear candle from Antique Candle Co. is one of my current favorites!

8. Step Back & Take a Break

There are so many times that I become frustrated styling a shelf and I have to remember to stop, step back, and take a break. Styling a space doesn’t always come easy. Sometimes it can take days of looking, moving, and tweaking a space to get it styled just right.

Country cottage farmhouse kitchen decorated for summer.

If you find this happening to you, remember to give yourself grace. If you feel frustrated, take a break or move on to something else. This will allow you to clear your mind and when you go back to the space you were styling, you will have a fresh outlook and new ideas!

Use groups of odd numbers when decorating shelves in the kitchen.

Final Thoughts on Open Kitchen Shelving

Remember when styling open kitchen shelving that it’s your home you’re decorating, and you should style your shelves the way you like! These tips should only be used as a guide. And if these tips aren’t for you, that’s fine! Your home should always reflect you and what you love. Decorate your home with pieces that are meaningful to you to create your own unique version of a well-loved home.

Cottage farmhouse decor in the kitchen with a candle.

For more tips & tricks on how to style open kitchen shelving, be sure to download my eBook, “How to Style Open Kitchen Shelving“. It’s free to ERH insiders! Not an insider, become one here to receive exclusive content & weekly newsletters.

Shop Our Open Kitchen Shelving

You can shop most items I have styled on our open kitchen shelving, here. The glass bon bon jars on the counter can be found, here. Shop my favorite candles, here.

Cottage farmhouse kitchen with open shelving styled for summer.

Shop Our Home

Links to products featured in this post can be found in our Shop Our Home page. I hope this page makes shopping our home a little easier for you! I earn a small commission when you make a purchase from one of our LTK & Amazon Storefront links. Your support helps me continue to create meaningful content for you!

I look forward to sharing more of my home with you and inspiring you to have a well loved home! Follow me on FacebookInstagramPinterest, and LIKEtoKNOW.it.

xoxo, heidi

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Tips & Tricks on How to Style Open Kitchen Shelving

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30 Comments

  1. You’ve shared so many beautiful ideas for styling open shelving. I love the pears and hydrangea branches. Every detail is so pretty my friend.

  2. Your shelving style is perfect Heidi. I am contemplating removing a cabinet in my kitchen and you are helping me make that choice. I look forward to sharing your home tomorrow.

  3. The shelve styling is perfect. Love everything about it. Thanks for posting it to the Fabulous Friday Link Party!

  4. Beautiful styling, Heidi!! I LOVE all of the tips that you shared here today. It’s basically like creating a vignette on a shelf and I think it’s just fabulous.

  5. Your shelves are so pretty, Heidi and these are such helpful tips. I always sruggle with shelves, so it’s good to remember that some of these same design elements can be applied to just about anything! Thanks for sharing!

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