Chicago Kitchen Design Ideas: Should I Do Built-Ins or Open Shelving?

Ron Nanberg | Mon, Nov 16, 2015 | Kitchen Remodeling

Chicago Kitchen Design Ideas - Open ShelvingKitchen shelving comes in two forms: open and closed. The former is experiencing a re-birth, as homeowners peruse Chicago kitchen design ideas looking for contemporary, low maintenance and spacious solutions. The latter is often a necessity because in addition to the furniture-esque aesthetic elements that cabinetry adds to a kitchen design - they also help to reduce the clutter and chaos created by "surfaces full of stuff."

Rather than tell you which shelving style to use, we'll provide examples of the best uses for each.

Most Kitchens Strike a Balance by Using Both Open- and Built-In Storage Options

It's a rare kitchen that lacks built-in shelving entirely. Why? Because - at the very least - built-in shelves and cabinets are necessary to hide stuff. This is especially true for lower cabinets that are used to hide the kitchen sink plumbing, for example.

However, imagine a kitchen where all the shelves were exposed. That would mean anyone who enters the kitchen is visually bombarded with a tremendous amount of input: pots and pans, serving platters, mixing bows, plates, cups, bowls...and the list continues. That is a lot to take in, which means the kitchen can wind up feeling too busy.

In other words, it typically requires a balance, deciding how a combination of open- and built-in shelves will work best for a kitchen's look and function.

Where Should I Use Built-In Shelving?

Kitchen cabinet doors help to:

  • Provide a more unified visual plane, hiding the kitchenware that is used less often.

  • Protect the more fragile members of your collection - whether it be an expensive, breakable item you purchased last week or your grandmother's precious serving platter and gravy boat.

  • Make a design impact - whether your style is traditional, transitional or modern.

The problem with too much built-in cabinetry - especially in large or very small kitchen spaces - is that those walls of cabinet doors can become monotonous or, in smaller kitchens, they can make you feel closed-in.

Where Should I Use Open Shelving?

Open kitchen shelving is best suited for:

  • Upper cabinets in order to open the space up and provide a little visual interest.

  • Increasing accessibility to dishes or small appliances that are used on a daily basis.
  • Blind corners, like where a cabinet side would abut to an open entrance, providing a larger peripheral view of the kitchen.

  • Adding visual interest to a monochromatic color scheme so colorful dishware or display items work to add a bit of color or pattern to the design.

  • Homeowners with bold or exotic color tastes since the shelves can be quickly and easily painted in bright, transient colors - as opposed to choosing, say, tangerine cabinet doors that will be much more labor intensive to change out when you're ready for something different.

Typically, the best Chicago kitchen design ideas are those that strike the right balance so you never have to experience either/or decisions. Kitchens & Baths Unlimited can review your kitchen plans and make recommendations about which shelving styles would work best - and where - in your kitchen.


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