The Pros and Cons of Open Shelving vs. Closed Cabinets


Every kitchen tells a story. From the choice of appliances to the color of the walls, each element contributes to the narrative. Among these elements, the decision between open shelving and closed cabinets stands out prominently. As modern designs champion minimalism and functionality, the debate intensifies. Which one suits your kitchen tale?

What is Open Shelving?

Open shelving, a trend that has roots in commercial kitchens, offers a wall-mounted storage solution without doors. Materials range from rustic reclaimed wood to industrial metal, and even elegant glass. The design can vary from floating shelves to bracketed ones, each bringing its unique flair to the kitchen space.

Pros of Open Shelving

a. Aesthetic Appeal:

Open shelves seamlessly integrate with most design themes, from farmhouse to contemporary. They can transform a wall into a dynamic space, showcasing colorful dishes, heirloom pieces, or even a collection of cookbooks.

b. Accessibility:

Especially beneficial for avid cooks, open shelving ensures that everything from spices to your favorite mug is just an arm’s length away.

c. Cost-Effective:

Without the intricacies of doors and hardware, open shelves can be a budget-friendly choice. DIY enthusiasts can even embark on a weekend project to install them.

d. Flexibility:

Seasons change, and so can your display. Open shelving allows for easy seasonal decor switches or layout changes.

The Pros and Cons of Open Shelving vs. Closed Cabinets

Cons of Open Shelving

a. Dust and Grime:

Living near a busy street or having a windowless kitchen can mean more frequent cleaning of the items on display.

b. Lack of Storage Privacy:

While your finest china looks splendid, not everything is meant for display. Think blenders, toasters, or that mismatched set of bowls.

c. Maintenance:

A commitment to regular decluttering and organizing is essential to prevent a chaotic look.

d. Potential for Clutter:

Without the restraint of doors, there’s a risk of shelves becoming a dumping ground, especially in busy households.

What are Closed Cabinets?

The classic closed cabinets have been a kitchen mainstay for decades. They come with doors that can be solid, glass-paneled, or even mirrored. Styles range from the ornate Victorian to the sleek mid-century modern, offering a solution for every aesthetic preference.

Pros of Closed Cabinets

a. Concealed Storage:

A boon for those who love a streamlined look, cabinets hide away the clutter, be it a plethora of pots or a jumble of jars.

b. Protection from Dust and Grime:

Especially in homes with pets or children, cabinets can keep items free from curious hands or paws.

c. Consistent Aesthetic:

Regardless of what’s inside, the external uniformity offers a cohesive look.

d. Increased Storage Space:

With options like corner cabinets or pull-out drawers, the storage possibilities are vast.

The Pros and Cons of Open Shelving vs. Closed Cabinets

Cons of Closed Cabinets

a. Cost: Custom cabinetry or high-end materials can strain budgets.

b. Accessibility: Deep cabinets can sometimes mean items get lost in the abyss, especially without proper organizers.

c. Potential for Wasted Space: Without customization, some cabinets may not fully utilize the available space, leading to inefficiencies.

d. Maintenance: Over time, wear and tear on hinges, knobs, and finishes might call for repairs or replacements.

Factors to Consider When Choosing

Your kitchen should be a reflection of your lifestyle. Consider:

  • Kitchen Size and Layout: Open shelving can make smaller kitchens appear larger, while cabinets can maximize storage in expansive kitchens.
  • Budget: While both options have budget-friendly and high-end variations, it’s essential to factor in installation costs.
  • Storage Needs: Do you have more display-worthy items or utilitarian ones?
  • Aesthetic Preferences: Visualize the end result. What resonates with your personal style?
  • Maintenance Willingness: Are you up for weekly shelf dusting or occasional cabinet touch-ups?


The kitchen is a space of creativity, warmth, and memories. Whether you’re a fan of the open-airiness of shelves or the structured elegance of cabinets, the key lies in making an informed choice. As a seasoned kitchen cabinets supplier, I’ve witnessed the transformative power of both. Your kitchen, your story!

Your thoughts can inspire others! Share your kitchen stories, preferences, and design inspirations in the comments. And for those on the brink of a kitchen makeover, we’re here to guide and assist. Reach out today!

Sam Williams
Sam Williams
Refined Style for Discerning Tastes.

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