I love open shelves!!! We ended up taking off the cabinet doors at our old house and I really liked the open shelving concept then. Before we even moved into our new home, I knew I wanted open shelves. Well after a year of contemplating the idea of open shelving, we ripped out our cabinets and put up shelves!! 

We have plans on painting the kitchen soon and we figured that if we are going to paint, now is the time to transition to the open shelves. I am not going to lie, I was so nervous about how this was going to turn out but so far I LOVE IT!! It gives off such a brighter, spacious feeling that I love. 

open kitchen shelves

Why I chose open shelves:

It’s more practical. Putting dishes away is so much easier. Everything is better organized and also easier to access. 

It’s given us more space. Believe it or not but I truly feel it has given us more storage space. I can fit things so much better now too. As of right now, a good amount of the shelves are bare. 

It was a lot cheaper. Our upper cabinets (and lower cabinets) were really old and beat up. We tried having them painted a year ago but they have already gotten dents and chips in them. Installing these open shelves was so much cheaper than buying new cabinets. This project cost us around $175.

kitchen open shelves on a budget

Typical reasons why people don’t like the idea of open shelves:

Duѕt and grime. I have had my shelves for a few months now and honestly, dust and grime have not been an issue. I sealed my shelves to ensure that wiping/ cleaning them wouldn’t be a problem. Every couple of weeks I give the shelves a quick wipe using a basic washcloth with warm water and mild dish soap.

It will look messy. I often have heard people saying they wouldn’t like open shelves because it would look messy with all the mix-matched dishes they have, some of their cabinet space for food items, and overall does not practical for busy large families. Well, I concur. This is where minimalism has been a lifesaver for us. I don’t have an excessive amount of dishes and it has made things so much easier to maintain. I have mixed-matched dishes (on purpose) and I love that I can now display them. Anything that isn’t “pretty” enough to display, you can easily hide in decorative bins.

RELATED TOPIC: Check out how we finished our basement on a budget

Materials used:

  • Heavy Duty Brackets – we decided to use these ones from HomeDepot
  • Stud Finder
  • Heavy-duty anchor screws
  • 11″ – 12″ boards
  • sander
  • drill
  • circular saw
  • paintbrushes
  • wood conditioner
  • stain – we used a fast-drying stain in the color early American
  • Polyurethane – I chose a water-based Polyurethane in a satin finish

This project took a little over a weekend to complete. Sanding and staining the shelves took the majority of the time.

Here is what we started with.


The first thing was to empty out the cabinets. We just piled everything onto our dining room table. While I was clearing all the cabinets, Brian started cutting the shelves.


Pulling out the cabinets was a pretty simple task. The only one that was a bit of a struggle to get out was the corner cabinet. Luckily Brian was able to get it out in pretty much one piece.



While Brian was pulling out the cabinets, I started conditioning and staining the shelves. Thankfully we went with the faster drying stain and finishes. This really helped cut the amount of time and totally worth the extra couple of dollars.



While we were waiting for the stain to dry we patched up any holes in the kitchen walls and primed the wall.

What a huge difference just priming the wall has made! As far as the kitchen soffit, we do have plans of knocking it out but we need to do some more research first. Until then we are keeping it up. The plan is to tackle that project in the spring/ summer.

While Brian and I were working on this project, we gave the kids some scrap pieces of wood, some nails, and a hammer. This kept them busy for a while.

At one point a certain toddler snuck into the sunroom where we were doing our staining and ended up painting on one of the shelves.


Once the shelves were all stained, we sealed them with fast-drying polyurethane. This helps keep the shelves scratch and stain resistance while also making them easier to clean. And after the shelves were done drying, Brian put on the brackets.


Once the brackets were on, time to put them up! Here are the shelves finally put up.

Now for the fun part. Putting everything back!




It took some time but after rearranging things around a bit, we got all of our dishes back up. Like I’ve said at the beginning of this post, I absolutely LOVE having open shelves!

kitchen open shelves on a budget

We decided to leave a spot open just above the sink because I plan on getting a mirror to place there since I do not have a window above the sink. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done in the kitchen. Here is what’s left on our list of to-dos:

  • remove kitchen sofit
  • fix the walls (still debating on just paint, shiplap, or backsplash)
  • add kitchen island
  • floors


Have you considered open shelves? Comment below your thoughts on open shelves! In case you missed it, be sure to check out the first part of our kitchen renovation.

Don’t forget to Pin this post!