Open Shelving vs. Closed Cabinets in the Kitchen: The Great Debate

Last updated on February 2, 2024

Discover the pros and cons of open shelving versus closed cabinets in your kitchen with expert insights from a seasoned male home decorator.

From minimalist to rustic, modern to farmhouse chic, there’s no shortage of styles and trends. But one debate that seems to never go away is the question of open shelving versus closed cabinets in the kitchen.

So which is better? Open shelving or closed cabinets? As someone who’s decorated countless kitchens over the years, I’m here to break down the pros and cons of each option so you can make an informed decision for your own space.

Key takeaways:

  • Open shelving can make a small kitchen feel more spacious, but exposes dishes to dust and grease, requiring frequent cleaning.
  • Closed cabinets offer more storage space, keep your items protected from dust and grease, but can make small spaces feel more enclosed.
  • Aesthetically, open shelving offers an airy and minimalist look while closed cabinets can provide a traditional and customizable look.
  • Open shelving allows for easier access to frequently used items, while closed cabinets can store larger items more efficiently.
  • Open shelving can be less expensive than closed cabinets, but closed cabinets, especially custom ones, can be more costly due to materials and labor.

What's Inside

Open Shelving Pros

cabinet storage kitchen space

Open shelving has become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason. One of the biggest advantages of open shelving is that it can make a small kitchen feel more spacious.

By eliminating bulky cabinets, you create an open and airy atmosphere that can be especially beneficial if your kitchen is on the smaller side. Another advantage of open shelving is that it allows you to showcase your favorite dishes, glassware, and other decorative items.

This adds visual interest to your space and makes everything easily accessible when cooking or entertaining guests. Open shelves are also easier to install than traditional cabinets since they don’t require as much hardware or assembly.

Plus, they’re often less expensive than closed cabinets which means you can save money while still achieving a stylish look in your kitchen. If you have a small space or want to show off some beautiful dishware collections, opting for open shelves might be worth considering!

Open Shelving Cons

open shelving kitchen

While open shelving can be a beautiful addition to any kitchen, it’s not without its drawbacks. One of the biggest cons is that cooking constantly exposes everything on the shelves to dust and grease. This means you’ll need to clean your dishes and glassware more frequently than if they were stored behind closed doors.

Another issue with open shelving is that it requires careful styling in order for it to look good. If you’re someone who likes things neat and organized, this may not be an issue for you. But if clutter makes your skin crawl, then open shelving might not be the best choice.

Finally, there’s also a safety concern when it comes to open shelves – especially if you have small children or pets in your home. Glassware or heavy plates could easily fall off of a shelf and cause injury or damage below.

Overall, while there are certainly benefits to having open shelves in your kitchen (such as easy access), these cons should be taken into consideration before deciding whether they’re right for you

Closed Cabinets Advantages

cabinet storage kitchen organization

While open shelving has its appeal, there are several advantages to choosing closed cabinets for your kitchen. For one, they offer more storage space and can help keep your kitchen looking neat and organized.

With closed cabinets, you don’t have to worry about dust or grease accumulating on your dishes or cookware.

Another advantage of closed cabinets is that they provide a sleeker look than open shelving. If you prefer a minimalist aesthetic in the kitchen, then opting for clean-lined cabinetry might be the way to go.

Closed cabinets also allow for more flexibility when it comes to design choices. You can choose from various materials such as wood veneers or laminates with different finishes like matte or glossy surfaces depending on what suits your style best.

While open shelving may work well in some kitchens where aesthetics take priority over functionality; if you’re looking for practicality and organization without sacrificing style – then going with traditional closed cabinetry is likely the better choice!

Closed Cabinets Disadvantages

stained cabinets kitchen

While closed cabinets are a popular choice for many homeowners, they do come with their own set of disadvantages. One major drawback is that it can be difficult to find items in the back of deep cabinets.

This can lead to frustration and wasted time when trying to locate a specific pot or pan. Another disadvantage is that closed cabinets tend to make kitchens feel smaller and more enclosed.

If you have a small kitchen, this may not be the best option as it could make your space feel even more cramped. Installing traditional cabinetry can often be more expensive than opting for open shelving due to the cost of materials and labor involved in installation.

Despite these drawbacks, there are still plenty of reasons why someone might choose closed cabinets over open shelving – such as wanting a sleeker look or needing extra storage space for less visually appealing items like cleaning supplies or pantry staples. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and what works best for your individual needs and lifestyle.

Aesthetics Comparison

Framed Cabinetry in kitchen

When it comes to kitchen design, aesthetics play a significant role in the decision-making process. Open shelving can give your kitchen an airy and spacious feel, making it perfect for smaller kitchens or those with limited natural light.

It also allows you to showcase your favorite dishes and glassware as part of the decor.

On the other hand, closed cabinets offer a more traditional look that can be customized to fit any style preference. They come in various finishes such as wood grain or painted surfaces that add depth and texture to your space.

When deciding between open shelving versus closed cabinets, consider how each option will complement your overall aesthetic goals for the room. If you’re going for a modern minimalist look with clean lines and simple colors, then open shelves may be ideal since they provide an uncluttered appearance while still allowing items on display.

However, suppose you prefer a classic farmhouse-style kitchen with warm wood tones and intricate details like molding or beadboard paneling on cabinet doors. In that case, closed cabinets are likely better suited for achieving this desired aesthetic effect. Ultimately both options have their own unique appeal when it comes down to personal taste preferences but considering aesthetics is crucial when choosing between them

Functionality & Storage

Two-toned kitchen Cabinets

Closed cabinets offer more concealed storage space, which can be helpful if you have a lot of kitchen items that you don’t necessarily want on display.

They also tend to be deeper than open shelves, allowing for larger items like pots and pans to be stored easily.

On the other hand, open shelving allows for easier access to frequently used items since they are out in the open. This can make cooking and meal prep more efficient as everything is within reach.

With no cabinet doors or hardware taking up space inside the cabinet itself – every inch of shelf space is available for use.

Ultimately your choice will depend on how much stuff you need (or want) in your kitchen at any given time – if it’s minimal then an all-open-shelving approach may work well; but if there are lots of things that require storing away from sight then closed cabinetry might suit better.

Maintenance & Cleaning

Kitchen Cabinet Installation

Open shelving can be a bit more high-maintenance than closed cabinets. With open shelves, everything is out in the open and exposed to dust, grease splatters, and other kitchen messes.

This means you’ll need to wipe down your dishes before putting them away on the shelf. On the other hand, with closed cabinets all of your dishes are hidden behind doors which means they stay cleaner for longer periods of time.

However, if you’re someone who likes things neat and organized then having everything visible on an open shelf might actually encourage you to keep things tidy. When it comes down to it though both options require regular cleaning so choose what works best for your lifestyle!

Cost Differences

kitchen cost budget

Open shelving can be less expensive than closed cabinets because there are no doors or hardware to install.

However, keep in mind that you’ll need to invest in attractive dishes and glassware if you want your open shelves to look good. Closed cabinets tend to be more expensive due to the materials and labor required for installation.

If you opt for custom cabinetry or high-end finishes like solid wood or lacquer, the price tag will go up even further. But don’t let cost alone dictate your decision between open shelving and closed cabinets.

Consider all of the factors – aesthetics, functionality/storage needs, maintenance/cleaning requirements – before making a final choice that fits both your budget and personal style preferences.

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