Kitchen Shelving – What are you Hiding?

My Shelves
My shelves (photo by Sarah Wert)

Before we moved into our house (about 1 1/2 years ago), we remodeled the kitchen and baths.  The kitchen was very small and dark with original 1950’s everything.  Of course being like everyone who enjoys cooking, you always want to someday design your own kitchen.  I had a folder of ideas and pictures, and a list of “must haves” (Viking stove, eat in island, green construction).  The list changed with the boundaries of (1950’s) construction and the budget (the 6 burner changed to a 4).   However, I love my kitchen and a few things that I always wanted, worked great for the remodel.  One of the biggest was open shelving.  I love the idea of the convenience as well as having it all out in the open.  This kitchen especially needed open shelving because of the previous dark and heavy overhead cabinets.  And while the kitchen has been transformed and looks, feels and functions nothing like the original kitchen, I do have some friends and family that question the open shelving decision.  “How does it stay so organized?”  “Do you like looking at your stuff?”  “Are you worried in an earthquake?”

Even when I had traditional kitchen cabinets they were always organized and I had nothing to hide.  Now I’m even more organized and can even decorate (or change the decor and color of the kitchen) with a simple addition or change of dishes, vases or glasses.   Just so you know I do not have open display for everything.  That’s just not practical or eye pleasing.  I do have lower shelving for pots and pans, strainers, storage containers etc.

However there is one drawback to open shelving …the cleaning of the shelves.  Yes, they do get dusty, so I clean them routinely.  I take all the dishes, glasses, mugs and vases down and clean the shelves.  It’s a bit dangerous and I try to do it when the kids aren’t looking .  I use a step stool and stand on the counter.  (We actually have friends who allow their kids to stand on the counters to reach the pantry, and I hold my breath everytime I see it).  Most of the dishes are used regularly so are not dusty at all.  However there are some glasses (champagne, beer, port) which display nicely but are not used regularly, so I wash them while they’re down for the shelf cleaning.

Cleaning the Shelves. (Note: the only thing not demolished was the 1950's lights)
Cleaning the shelves (Note, the original 1950's lights we kept)
Dishes during the process
Dishes waiting to return to the shelves

So yes, the open shelves are convenient to get dishes in and out of on a daily basis, but are inconvenient to clean.  But not so that I’d go back to hiding in the cabinet.  Plus my guests never have to ask “Where can I find a glass?”  They just help themselves.