Renovations, design, construction and everything in between are highly debatable topics. Every individual has his or her opinion on these issues, and the entire industry is based upon subjectivity. Therefore, why not throw another debate on the table? I spoke about the downsides of open-concept living in a previous post and it seemed to be of interest, so let’s keep that going and pin the concept of “open shelving” on the board. Here’s my two cents on the topic.
Pro: It’s Cheaper
Installing cabinets in your kitchen (or anywhere in your home) is a costly task – it’s often one of the most expensive aspects of a kitchen redesign. Therefore, swapping a portion of closed shelving for open shelving can drastically reduce the cost of your new cooking space.
Con: Always on Show
Open shelves are exactly that: open. They are consistently on show, and whatever is on those shelves can be seen by all. This means the contents displayed need to suit the rest of the kitchen, and should always be kept clean and organized.
Pro: Easier Installation
All you need is some simple measuring and drilling skills to install open shelving. It still requires care and attention, but the installation of open shelving doesn’t need to be carried out by an expert. This can help reduce the cost of any renovation and allow you to take on the job yourself.
Con: The Contents Need to Be Kept Organized
Keeping a kitchen tidy is tough enough as it is, especially when there are little hands on everything. So when you have plates and bowls stacked up on a display shelf, it’s often more work to ensure they look organized.
Pro: Keeps the Space Open
Cabinets automatically make a room feel more confined. They take up space and often come further off the wall than shelving. This can reduce the perception of openness in your home. If you prefer open-planned living and wide-open spaces, open shelving could be for you.
Con: Difficult to Light
The addition of open shelving can offer up a lighting issue. Pot lights and generic lighting only brighten the room as a whole, but just like art, shelving needs spotlighting. This can increase your lighting budget and can make for a difficult design choice. Hint: articulating lighting can fix that – Sarah insisted I added that in.
Pro: More Practical When Cooking
As you might see in a chef’s kitchen, open shelving is often used. That’s because it makes grabbing a plate that much easier. There is no need to open a door and reach to the back of a cupboard to find what you need. For serious foodies out there, this is a major plus.
Con: Dust Collection
As its name suggests, open shelving is open to the elements. This means dust, food splatters and other unwanted spills may land on the dishware housed on the shelves – which leads to more upkeep.
Pro: Fun Design Tool
Adding open shelving to a space often allows for more design freedom, like opting for a pop of colour or unique material. It’s not uncommon to make the shelving different to the cabinets and therefore break up the space. Open shelving is also much easier to swap out or replace when desired.
As you can see, I’m on the fence over this debate. I can honestly see the pros and cons to both sides, and it’s something that should be decided on a case by case basis. Open shelving is a great option if budget is a worry, but it could become a nuisance if the space is prone to collecting dirt. But if you pushed me, I would have to side with the open shelving team! Sorry, cabinets.