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Is it Okay to have a Mix of Cabinets and Open Shelving in a Kitchen?

Kitchen with sage green cabinets, open shelves, and a marble-top island.

It is perfectly fine to mix cabinets and open shelving in a kitchen. Cabinets enable you to keep kitchen pieces behind closed doors for a neater look. Nevertheless, open shelving lets you organize and show unique kitchenware while creating an interesting visual balance. I also love it because it offers more room for creativity, allowing you to play with color to design your ideal kitchen.

Let’s see how cabinets and open shelving perfectly mix in different kitchen styles:

The Displayer

Kitchen with white cabinets and shelves against the light gray beadboard walls.

The biggest point about incorporating open shelves is that it lets me show off my kitchenware. Our room here focuses on this quality by having the shelves occupy more wall space, with the cabinets on the lower half. I love the different styles of shelves in different parts of the wall to let you organize your items in varying looks.

For instance, the shelves on the right display plates and small cups, whereas the central ones have cooking ingredients and flower decorations. The open shelves on the left side feature glassware in varying shapes, sizes, and patterns.

The white shelves and cabinets blend with the off-white wall panels and wooden table and countertop for a stylish yet welcoming look. You can adapt this theme to any kitchen design, including ones with a cooking station beneath the open shelves. In this case, I advise installing a range hood to help you eliminate smoke and grease particles that fly around when cooking.

This accessory ensures you can keep your shelved items clean for a tidier display.

The Minimalist

Kitchen with white minimalist cabinets and open shelving.

This kitchen design talks to the minimalist in me. The simple overall design gives a clean look with a hidden elegance. I also like this room since it shows how to use white creatively when you do not want to play with colors.

The white walls, off-white flooring, and white cabinets make the kitchen seem spacious and neat. Furthermore, the open shelves feature a wooden bottom border in a neutral shade to offer contrast and visual balance.

Organizing utensils in this kitchen is convenient since it provides ample space to fit the minimalist’s utensils. Even though I prefer the systematic display of utensils shown here, you can switch the items according to what you have. Interchanging shapes and sizes can help add a unique and stylish finish that attracts the eye.

The Stylish

Kitchen with gray cabinets, wooden shelves, and a large island.

The right color combination can instantly turn a standard space into a luxurious kitchen. Our kitchen incorporates the ever-beautiful dark grey finish on the cabinets that combines with the white walls and countertops for a classy look. The cabinet knobs and handles share the fridge’s stainless steel shade that adds a luxurious touch to the overall theme.

Additionally, I like the lighting fixtures that blend with the color scheme, having grey on the exterior and white on the inside.

The open shelves feature pale wood with yellow undertones that match the island’s top. The wooden hues add a subtle contrast that breaks the grey and white monotony. It also gives the room an inviting and relaxing appearance since plain grey and white colors can make the kitchen cold.  

The Creative

Kitchen with white shelves and cabinets, white appliances, and red brick accent wall.

I love mixing open shelves and cabinets in the kitchen because they enable me to use the space resourcefully. This kitchen has small dimensions, meaning you have limited space to organize your items. It is easy to create clutter and a bulky look if you do not balance correctly.

Our room features lower cabinets and open shelves on the upper section. The white paint on the cabinet doors, shelves, and fridge help make the room appear bigger.

I appreciate the differently sized spaces in the open shelves that let you place variously shaped utensils. It offers room for creativity to incorporate non-utensils such as a flower vase or photo frame in one of the sections. In addition, natural light from the window gives the space freshness while helping the displayed objects stand out.

The Bold

Kitchen with bright yellow cabinetry and open shelves.

Robert Frost said that freedom lies in being bold, which applies to home décor. Our example here features a brilliant yellow look that may not be many people’s first pick. However, I love it since it brings the kitchen to life while reflecting your personality.

The open shelves also incorporate the same yellow shade inside its walls for a uniform look. Nevertheless, the white utensils placed on the shelves and the countertops help break monotony without taking away the room’s brilliance. The floor tiles and ceiling also have a white finish that complements the brightness in the kitchen décor. 

My other way of styling a bold look, such as the yellow theme, is to add darker shades. For instance, I would paint the cabinets sunshine yellow and have the walls an eggnog shade. I would paint the inner walls of the open shelves black to break the monotony while adding a luxurious look to the overall design.

My last step would be to arrange utensils in brighter colors such as white or cream to blend with the yellow theme while making the black background stand out. It is also a great idea to place glass pieces on the top shelves closest to your lighting fixtures. This position makes the items shine under the illumination, producing a classy and delicate finish.

You can always switch the theme if your primary color is a darker shade, where you paint a light hue inside the open shelves. The key to pulling off boldness in any setting is using complementary palettes and strategic organization to deliver balance and contrast.

Cabinets and open shelvings are the peanut butter and jelly mix to my kitchen sandwich. The two elements go well together and help me get additional space for creativity and organization. Whether you want more shelves than cabinets or vice versa, you want to find proper placement and color palettes for the perfect finish and look.