Open Shelving vs. Upper Cabinets

I need some help deciding whether I should go with open shelving vs upper cabinets!

Open shelving vs. upper cabinets with wooden open shelves.

I need your help!

Further to my kitchen inspiration board, I’ve been contemplating whether to go with open shelving for the upper cabinets or a combination of open shelving and closed cabinets.

I love open rustic shelving! My house is smaller so the open shelving really opens up the space.

It also allows for me to add some decor elements to the shelves which adds some pretty to the room but I worry if I’ll miss some upper cabinets.

Will I be dusting my plates all the time?

Is it a trend that will be on its way out soon? Or is it here to stay and become a ‘classic’ design?

This drawing isn’t the greatest but here’s the layout I have planned for my kitchen at the Sweet Little Bungalow.

Hand drawing open shelves.
A kitchen with open shelving and island.

I had upper shelving in the not-so-rustic cabin. It was great for easy access and adding decor items.

And of course those rustic shelves were amazing to look at.

Wooden rustic open shelves with black metal.

Krista from The Happy Housie has a gorgeous new kitchen with no upper cabinets on one entire side of her kitchen.

It makes the whole space just open up. And looking at a lake isn’t too bad either.

A white kitchen with a light blue hood range.

Jennifer from Town and Country Living has an adorable open vintage shelf she uses in her kitchen.

Open white shelves in a kitchen.

Love Kelly’s kitchen from The Lily Pad Cottage.

I love counter to ceiling tile too.

White subway tile and open white shelves.

Then there’s the trusty upper closed cabinets that hold a lot of storage and hide a lot of mess.

These gorgeous white kitchens from my blogger friends are beautiful and will stand the test of time.

Rachel from Shades of Blue

A white kitchen island with wood top and wooden stools.

Rachel from Maison de Pax

White cabinets in the kitchen with subway tile.

Sarah from Life on Virginia St

A large kitchen island with a dark blue base.

Abby from Just a Girl and a Blog

White cabinets in a mostly white kitchen.

And I can’t forget my previous kitchen with French industrial details.

A white industrial kitchen.

I’m definitely going with open shelving in between the two windows.

Open shelving vs. upper cabinets / hand drawings - So Much Better With Age
Open Shelving vs Upper Cabinets / kitchen-corner-cupboard - So Much Better With Age

But what about that corner area? Should I go with open shelving there too or a closed upper corner cabinet?

Thanks so much for your help, lovely reader!

Click the image below to read more posts:

Sweet Little Bungalow - a renovation series on my new home! - So Much Better With Age

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  1. Open shelving for the corner too. Europeans have had open for years so it can’t be trendy, right? I can’t wait to see what you do with the rest!

  2. hey girl! Can’t wait to see your kitchen when it’s all complete! I think I would go with he closed upper corner cabinet!

  3. Its going to look amazing no matter what you choose but I think I prefer the closed upper corner too. Thanks for asking! 😉

  4. First let me say, that I love your blog and your design/styling. For your kitchen, I think it depends on what you are having on the wall on the other side of the stove. If you are having some open shelves there, I would go for open shelves in the corner. Can’t wait to see your kitchen come together!

  5. You will love the open shelves as long as you have closed cabinets to go with them. We just did a total kitchen reno, and I adore our open shelving AND closed cabinets. The plates don’t get dusty because they keep getting used. The not-so-used things on the top shelves just need a quick wipe down before you use them. Having grown up in an authentic old farmhouse, the open shelf style is definitely long lasting – it’s just gotten more of the spotlight recently. I’m sure you will enjoy whatever you choose, and it will be beautiful!

  6. With the stove is so close to the corner, I would go with closed storage. I find I have to wash the outside of the cabs I have beside the stove way more often then the others around my kitchen. It will be beautiful whatever you choose, you just have to determine your priority between form and function.

  7. I think the scale is off for open shelving in that corner. Closed cabinets would surely fill the space with better proportions. A view with cabinets would be helpful in the decision process. Very exciting!

  8. Sweet Jamie! Love this post and that you are sharing your journey with us each step of the way. My vote is for both in the corner. A rustic cabinet with glass doors on one wall and a shorter set of open shelves closer to the stove area. Can’t wait to see what you do!

  9. I vote for open shelving! I am loving the open shelving look, but however, I’m not sure I could handle it. I would have those darn shelves packed full and cluttered. It would be a hot mess, but it sounds like you can manage better than I. Get it, girl!

  10. Open shelves in the corner or just on the range wall. I love the Happy Housie kitchen. If it doesn’t work out, just a few holes to patch. Then you can add closed cabinets later. I just bought a new house and am looking to take some cabs down!

  11. I would not use closed upper cabinetry in the corner. Things get lost in corner cabinets. Also, when you have closed cabinets in the corners, it makes the room feels smaller, because you can’t see the corners.

    When I designed our new kitchen, I had a closed, easy reach upper corner cabinet, and ended up taking the doors off it and making it open. It’s a much better use of the space, and really made the kitchen feel larger.

    Ideally, it would be great if you could have both open and closed storage on the uppers. If it were me, I’d put a closed upper cabinet between the two windows. This will give you open and closed storage on the uppers.

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