Shelf designs for your kitchen should take into consideration your practical needs and your personal style. Options range from completely open shelving where you display everything from dishes to dry goods, to small bookshelf sectionals for holding cookbooks and especially handsome accent pieces like ceramic vases. Materials for shelves include stainless steel, wood, glass and acrylic. You can pair shelves with rustic metal supports, modern steel frameworks or install them nearly invisibly. Some stand-alone units contain drawers and cabinets on the bottom with open shelving above. Shelf designs are unlimited; peruse your options carefully to maximize your storage space and enhance your kitchen's design impact.
Built-in shelving offers a range of design options. Create a frame by extending shelving over the door. Store less-used items like large, handsome casseroles out of reach. Floor-to-ceiling wood shelving along one wall can display rustic basketry filled with kitchen necessities, cookbooks and other sundries; try sticking with a color theme to keep the look feeling neat rather than busy. Walls of open shelving in a pantry contain everything from flour to cake plates. The pantry door allows you to mask any feeling of clutter when necessary.
Your shelving materials can make your kitchen feel modern or traditional. Adjustable plexiglass shelves look contemporary and reflect light on dishes. Install them with elaborate metal frames for an industrial feeling. For a country look, install glass doors in front of light blue shelving that houses a collection of white china. The doors add allure and additional protection against dust. See-through shelving divides the space while transmitting light. Stack colorful dishes on lower shelves; display a collection of glass bud vases on upper shelves. Treat this unit as a functional room divider.
Open shelving is great for enjoying collections of kitchenware. Country-style hutches let you show off china. Choose an antique or a modern design. Arrange collections of dishes, cookbooks and knick-nacks such that those of similar sizes and shapes are together to help create a unified look. This means grouping salt and pepper shakers with oils and vinegars on a lazy Susan; lining a long shelf with water pitchers; grouping vintage cocktail glasses in clusters.
Use both the tops and the undersides of shelves to increase your storage options. Hang coffee cups on hooks below the bottom shelf. Arrange stock pots by size on top of one free-floating shelf over the stove; beneath, install hooks for hanging sauce and saute pans. Replace drawers below open shelving in a pantry with baskets to hold dry storage ingredients such as onions and potatoes. Large hutches with drawers on the bottom let you display dishes on top and store linens and sliver below. A half-wall of cubby units adds counter space. Try storing heavy items like the food processor, the blender, nested mixing bowls and several kitchen encyclopedias in the cubbies with a stand-up mixer on top.
Paint makes bland shelves stand out and provides a design element when it contrasts with walls or dishes. Paint open wood shelving in bright colors to spruce up an urban rental. Hot orange shelving gives a deliberate sense of playfulness in a kitchen with brown linoleum that you can't do anything about. Contrast a collection of dishes that is one strong color with shelves painted a color on the opposite end of the spectrum. Red dishes pop against green or white shelves; yellow dishes seem to glow against a blue or dark gray background.