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The Pros and Cons of Choosing Open Shelving over Cabinets

The Pros and Cons of Choosing Open Shelving over Cabinets in Your Kitchen

When planning a kitchen renovation or update, one of the biggest decisions you’ll need to make involves selecting your storage options. The debate between cabinets and open shelving has been ongoing for years, but if you’re still on the fence about which direction to go, let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of choosing open shelving over cabinets.

Pros of Open Shelving

1. Enhanced Design Appeal: Open shelving is an excellent way to showcase your prized collections and decorative pieces, which can bring a personalized touch of style to your kitchen.

2. Easier to Access Items: With open shelving, everything is right at your fingertips, making it easier to quickly grab what you need and put it away, saving you time and effort.

3. Budget Friendliness: Open shelving is often less expensive than cabinets, which can make it a practical choice if you’re working with a tight budget.

4. Easy Installation: Open shelving doesn’t require the same amount of installation time and effort as cabinets. Since open shelves are typically mounted to the wall, they can be installed quickly and with relative ease.

Cons of Open Shelving

1. Requires More Frequent Cleaning: With everything on display, dust and dirt find their way onto your open shelves quite easily, which means regularly keeping them clean is a must.

2. Limited Storage: Open shelving offers limited storage compared to cabinets, so it may not be practical for large families or those with a lot of kitchenwares to store.

3. Barely Conceals Clutter: Although open shelving is great for showcasing stylish items, it doesn’t do a good job of hiding the clutter that may accumulate in your kitchen on a daily basis.

4. More Vulnerable to Damage and Breakage: Open shelving is more exposed to damage and breakage, which means that fragile tableware or glassware could be accidents waiting to happen.


Choosing open shelving over cabinets is a decision that will largely depend on your personal style, needs, and budget. If you are looking to add a unique touch of style and personality to your kitchen while maintaining a smaller budget and a more streamlined, minimal aesthetic, open shelving could be the way to go. However, if you need more storage space, prefer less frequent cleaning, and want to keep clutter concealed, then cabinets might be a better option for you.

Whichever route you decide to take, make sure to weigh the pros and cons carefully and choose a storage option that will meet the unique needs of your kitchen and lifestyle. With a little forethought and planning, you can create the perfect kitchen that balances both form and function.

Open Shelving vs Cabinets FAQ

What are the advantages of open shelving over cabinets?

Open shelving can create a more open and airy feel in a kitchen or living space. It also allows for easy access and visibility of items, making it easier to locate and retrieve what you need. Additionally, open shelving can be a cost-effective solution as it may require fewer materials and installation time compared to cabinets.

What are the disadvantages of open shelving?

One of the main disadvantages of open shelving is that it requires ongoing maintenance and cleaning to keep items looking organized and attractive. Dust and grease can accumulate on the exposed shelves and items, making them appear dirty and unappealing. Additionally, open shelving can make a space look cluttered if not used properly.

What are the advantages of cabinets over open shelving?

Cabinets offer more concealed storage options, making it easier to hide items that may not be visually appealing, such as cleaning supplies or small appliances. They also provide a more traditional and timeless look in a space. Cabinets can be purchased in a variety of materials, finishes, and colors to fit any design style.

What are the disadvantages of cabinets?

When compared to open shelving, cabinets can be more expensive due to the increased materials and installation time required. They can also make a space feel more closed-in and dark if not designed correctly. Cabinet doors can also make accessing items more cumbersome and time-consuming.

What design style works best with open shelving?

Open shelving works well with a variety of design styles, including modern, industrial, and Scandinavian. It can help create a minimalist look by providing open storage for only essential items. Open shelving also works well in smaller spaces as it can make a room feel larger and more open.

What design style works best with cabinets?

Cabinets work well with traditional, classic and rustic design styles. They can provide a warm and cozy atmosphere while also adding elegance and sophistication. Cabinets can also work well in larger spaces as they can provide ample storage without feeling overwhelmed or cluttered.

Can you mix open shelving and cabinets in a kitchen?

Yes, mixing open shelving and cabinets can provide a beautiful contrast in a kitchen. Open shelving can be used to display dishes, glassware, or cookbooks, while cabinets can be used to store more private items such as pantry items, appliances, and cleaning supplies. Careful consideration should be given to the placement of each to ensure they work together seamlessly in the space.

Are there any safety concerns with open shelving?

Open shelving can be more vulnerable to breaking or collapsing if not installed properly. It is important to ensure that shelving is securely mounted to studs in the wall and that the weight of items placed on it are distributed evenly. Additionally, open shelving can be dangerous for pets or small children who may climb on it or knock items off accidentally.

How do you maintain open shelving to keep it looking clean?

To maintain open shelving, it should be wiped down regularly with a damp cloth to remove dust and grease. Items on the shelf should also be cleaned before being placed on the shelf. To reduce clutter and make the space look organized, only essential items should be kept on the shelves, and decorative items should be rotated out regularly to avoid collecting dust.

How do you organize cabinets to maximize storage space?

To maximize storage space ( Amazing Hacks to Maximize Storage Space in Your Kitchen ) in cabinets, consider using organizational tools such as pull-out drawers, lazy susans, and sliding shelves. Items should be grouped by category, such as baking supplies, dinnerware, or pantry items, and stored in an accessible location. Height can also be a factor when organizing items in cabinets, with taller items being stored towards the back and shorter items towards the front.

Which option is better for resale value, open shelving or cabinets?

There is no clear answer as to whether open shelving or cabinets are better for resale value. The best option will depend on the layout and design style of the home. In general, cabinets tend to be a more traditional and safe choice, while open shelving can be seen as trendier and riskier.

Open Shelving vs Cabinets – Which One to Choose for Your Home?

Deciding whether to opt for open shelving or cabinets for your home can be a daunting task. Both have their own set of advantages and disadvantages, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Here are some products you may want to consider while making a decision.

  • Wallniture – Floating Shelves
    Wallniture’s floating shelves are an excellent option for those who want to embrace the open-shelving trend. These shelves provide ample space to display decorative items, cookbooks, and even small kitchen appliances. They are easy to install with all the necessary mounting hardware included.
  • Prepac – Elite Storage Cabinet
    If you’re more of a cabinet ( Revolutionize Your Kitchen with Genius Cabinet and Drawer Space Maximization Tips ) person, Prepac’s Elite Storage Cabinet is a great option. This cabinet comes with three adjustable shelves and one fixed shelf, providing plenty of storage space for all your items. The cabinet is made of durable engineered wood and is easy to assemble.
  • Rohl – Farmhouse Sink
    A farmhouse sink is a popular option in kitchen design. These sinks are traditionally larger and deeper than other kitchen sink ( The Hidden Dangers Lurking in Your Kitchen Sink Revealed ) styles, and they often look best when paired with open shelving. The Rohl – Farmhouse Sink is made of high-quality fireclay and is designed to withstand heavy use.
  • Home Styles – Nantucket Pantry
    For those who want a furniture-like storage option, Home Styles’ Nantucket Pantry is an excellent choice. This pantry is made of solid hardwood and comes with two cabinet doors that open to reveal three adjustable shelves. The pantry also has a drawer for additional storage.
  • Greenco – Corner Shelves
    Greenco’s Corner Shelves are perfect for those who want to make the most of their space. These shelves are designed to fit into the corner of a room, providing much-needed storage space without taking up valuable floor space. The shelves are made of sturdy MDF and come in a set of two.
  • South Shore – Storage Cabinet
    Another cabinet option is South Shore’s Storage Cabinet. This cabinet comes with two adjustable shelves and one fixed shelf, providing ample storage space for all your items. The cabinet also has a lockable door, making it a great option for those who want to keep their items secure.
  • SRIWATANA – Industrial Pipe Shelves
    SRIWATANA’s Industrial Pipe Shelves are a unique option for those who want to add some industrial flair to their home. These shelves are made of sturdy wood and iron pipes, giving them a rustic look. They are easy to install and come with all the necessary hardware.
  • WELLAND – Floating Corner Shelves
    WELLAND’s Floating Corner Shelves are another great option for those who want to capitalize on corner space. These shelves are made of solid wood and come in a set of two. They are easy to install and provide additional storage space without taking up valuable floor space.
  • Sauder – Storage Cabinet
    For those who want a cabinet that blends in with their decor, Sauder’s Storage Cabinet is a great option. This cabinet comes in a variety of finishes to match any home decor. It has four adjustable shelves and one fixed shelf, providing ample storage space.
  • MyGift – Wall-Mounted Wine Rack
    If you’re looking for a storage option that’s both functional and stylish, MyGift’s Wall-Mounted Wine Rack is an excellent choice. This wine rack is made of sturdy metal and can hold up to six bottles of wine. It can be mounted on the wall, saving valuable counter space.

Pros & Cons of Open Shelving vs Cabinets


  • Visual Appeal: Open shelving can add charm, warmth, and personality to your kitchen design ( Uncover the Secrets to a Dream Kitchen Design You’ve Always Wanted ) when used to showcase beautiful dishes and other kitchen accessories. It can also make the kitchen appear larger and more spacious.
  • Easy Access: Open shelving allows you to quickly access items you frequently use without the hassle of opening and closing cabinet doors.
  • Budget-Friendly: Open shelving is often cheaper than cabinets as it does not require as much material and woodworking. This makes it a great option for those on a tight budget.
  • Increased Storage Capacity: With open shelving, you can maximize your vertical space and store more items than you would with cabinets that have fixed space. You can also easily adjust the shelving height to fit larger items.
  • Customization: Open shelving allows for flexibility in terms of design and customization. You can choose the type of wood, stain, and finish that works best for you and your kitchen.
  • Cons:

  • Limited Privacy: Your items will be on display for everyone to see, which can be a drawback if you have a messy kitchen or do not want to showcase certain items.
  • Dust and Dirt: Open shelving exposes your items to dust, dirt, grease, and grime, which can be difficult and time-consuming to clean. This is especially true for items that are rarely used and tend to collect dust quickly.
  • Organizational Challenges: Open shelving requires more organization and management than cabinets. You need to make sure that your items are carefully arranged, or else your kitchen will look cluttered and disorganized.
  • Damage Control: With open shelving, you need to be careful not to accidentally knock over items or damage them while taking them off the shelves.
  • Requires Constant Maintenance: Open shelving needs to be maintained regularly to look good. You need to constantly rearrange and dust your items to avoid clutter and dirt buildup.

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