Bright and Open Kitchen Shelving

It’s not news to hear that kitchen cabinets can really put a dent in any budget, and a big trend right now is open shelving in the kitchen.

by Stephanie Staton
Stephanie Staton put open shelving in her new farmhouse to complement the high ceilings and display her everyday wares. Photo by Stephanie Staton (
Photo by Stephanie Staton

It’s not news to hear that kitchen cabinets can really put a dent in any budget, and a big trend right now is open shelving in the kitchen. I knew right away that with 10-foot ceilings, I wanted an open and airy feeling in the upper sections of the kitchen. To avoid paying top dollar for beautiful but expensive glass-front cabinets, we decided to jump on the open-shelving train.

Not to toot my horn, but I think it turned out great. I love the horizontal lines of contrasting white that the shelves afford, as well as the ability to display my most-oft used items. Our daily-use dishes will go on the first shelf within easy reach, while some of the lesser-used but attractive items will be placed up higher. We’ll see how I fair with dust in the coming months—I realize this is one downfall to this method and might need to rethink the items currently housed there. For now, though, I enjoy the touch of sparkle my glassware adds to the overall kitchen scene.

If you’re considering open shelves and, like me, you’re particular about the supports that hold them—a few keywords might come in handy during your search: brackets and corbels—the latter of which is most often used to describe the wooden supports similar to the ones pictured. You’ll find that many retailers and mills use a variety of terms to describe these supports, though, so be ready to explain what it is your seeking for your shelves. (Visual examples of shelving you like are even better.)

Once you get your point across for the look of the shelves, stick to your budget. Prices range from $8 each to $50 per support, which can easily derail your budget if not kept in check. I searched high and low before stalking—I mean researching—corbels found in an inspiration image on the Internet, only to discover a local big-box store carried similar ones for $10 each. It took some digging, and unfortunately, the store sales associates had no idea what a corbel was. I was able to ascertain a general location in the store from the company’s website and browse their offerings (as well as those of other nearby locations and competitors) to find just the one I was looking for.

Most wooden corbels, including ours, come unfinished, so we sanded and painted them along with the 1x12s in the same paint used on our doors and mouldings throughout the house. The semi-gloss finish will make it easier to wipe down shelves while giving them a polished look. We mounted them directly into the studs, never exceeding a span of 36 inches, for proper weight support.

When seeking just the right look and finish for your kitchen shelving, keep in mind that a picture really is worth a thousand words—at least when referring to corbels. Arm yourself with the proper terms to get the materials you need without losing your mind in the shopping process.

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