Our New Open Kitchen Shelves!


I have loved the look of open shelving for several years now.

I made a couple of them for our previous kitchen.


Some people say they are a fad and will go out of style.  But I’m okay with that.  I love them NOW, so that’s why I took my old cabinets down.  (Carpe Diem, I say!)

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After I took them down, I was left with this…

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Notice ugly soffit.

It had to go.

So down it went.  And so did a ton of insulation.

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I almost didn’t survive that day.  It was not even funny.

But we cleaned it up, and repaired the holes in the ceiling and walls…

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Oh yeah, and we ditched the old pantry too!

So, let’s fast forward to this weekend.

I bought some corbels like the ones I had used in my previous kitchen and had them ready for my hubby to put up…

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He put three of the corbels up on the wall, and I noticed TWO things immediately:

1.  These corbels were too small for the shelves we were installing.

2.  They were not the “look”  I was after.

We were going to be installing 16 of these bad boys in our kitchen, and these corbels were a little too “curvy” for the look I was after.  (A little too “cottagey”, if you will.)

So I returned the corbels to Home Depot and came home with some that I love.

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In order to give the shelves lots of support, we made sure that each corbel was nailed into a stud in the wall. 

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These shelves will be holding a lot of dishes, so I am glad that the shelves to the right of the sink have three corbels each supporting them.

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You can see the subway tile that we installed this past weekend too.  Now that the back splash is white, we are going to have to switch out all of our tan outlets with  new white ones.  Ugh, the details!

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Our friend, Adam, helped Cy with the kitchen this weekend. He was a huge help!!

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We are going to be putting a little trim around the front of the shelves because they are just made of mdf board.

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Now, I will be honest, that I am a little nervous about making my dishes look pretty on those shelves.  I know they cannot be perfect, but I also don’t want the open shelves to look messy.

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So I will be looking all over blogland and Pinterest for inspiration.  Send me pictures of pretty open shelves if you have them.  Smile

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We went we only two levels of shelves even though most of the inspiration pictures I found had three levels of shelves. 


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Let’s take a quick look back at the “before”…

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And here’s the after (so far)…

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Wow!  That’s a huge difference, isn’t it?!

So, do you like open shelving?  Do you think it is just a fad?

(You won’t hurt my feelings if you do.) Smile


  1. I love them … they look incredible! You guys did a fabulous job … they truly make such a difference in your kitchen! Thank you for being such an inspiration to us! I’m still loving the open shelves that you inspired me to do in our kitchen, as well … thanks again for your fabulous tutorial! I look forward to seeing more of your amazing transformations! Happy Holidays. *Becca*


  2. Hello – I’ve been reading your blog for a whille but I don’t usually comment. I LOVE your kitchen and all the changes you’ve made. I don’t think open shelves are a fad. My mom was born in 1935 and her childhood home still has the original open shelves in the kitchen. They are to the right and left of the sink. All of my grandmother’s treasures are displayed on them. In addition, she has two double-sided built-in cabinets with open shelving in the kitchen. They are pretty tall and rise from the floor to about shoulder height. She stores her dishes – everyday and good china – and glasswareon the dining room side of the cabinets and kitchen items on the kitchen side of the cabinets. They are so simple and classic. I’ve loved open shelving since I was a child because of my grandmother’s kitchen. So, I don’t think they are a fad.

  3. I think its fantastic. I really do. Might “force” you to keep things neater. Truly a wonderful transformation!

  4. The open shelves are great. I don’t think it’s a fad at all. I actually think it’s classic. A lot of old southern kitchens have open shelving. Easy access for cooking and serving. And as for trying to keep them pretty all the time, I believe perfection is in the eye of the beholder!! I don’t live there you do, make it yours. Others that mind don’t matter and those that matter won’t mind!! The kitchen is coming along beautifully!! :)

  5. Wow … just wow. I love Love LOVE what you’ve done and where you’re still going with your design and vision.

    Open shelving may be ‘a fad’ but everything is a fad. Fads last approximately 10 years or so, right? So, you have like 9.99 years yet to enjoy what you’ve done! Plus, with the beautiful pantry you’ve built, you still have plenty of storage and much prettier than the old brown cabinets you had up there.

    Ignore other people’s ‘fad’ theories and do what is in your heart, or Beneath Your Heart!! You have a beautiful heart so follow it girl !! Job well done and I’m so excited and happy for you and your family! Enjoy your new kitchen!!

  6. I say do what pleases you. If you were worried about them being a fad and left the cupboards you would walk into the kitchen every day with a small feeling of regret. This way you are going to walk into your kitchen everyday with a huge smile on your face and a great sense of accomplishment. I love it!

  7. I like your open shelves a lot, but think I would like them better if they were the same size right and left of the window. Were you not able to fit a 3 corbel shelf on the left side?

    Personally, I just think open shelves are dust catchers but to each his own. You like them and that’s what matters. They look pretty.

  8. It just looks so great! Would you mind sharing what color of white paint you used on them? and is it semi-gloss, or gloss? It is so hard to find the right white- but your’s looks so good!:)

  9. I think your kitchen looks beautiful!! You and your hubby make an awesome team!!

    I love the look of open shelving, but I would be afraid it would be a pain to keep them dust free!

  10. Traci,
    My two cents is ….whether open shelving is a fad or not, is not the question. Do you like it? Does Cy like it cause it makes his wife happy? To me, that’s what is important. It’s your home and if you know that you aren’t going to be moving any time soon, then I would make it as homey and decortive specific as I wanted. You have done just that. At this moment it makes you happy and that’s all that matters. LOL, not tomention it looks tons better than the before picture. Girl, there is nowhere to go but up. : )
    We move a lot, so I don’t alwyas get the chance to try out the things I envision because of that old saying..”resale value.”
    I say enjoy your new kitchen. Open shelving and all. Let me know how it goes after you live with it a while. I would love to do that in my home…..someday. I have read it’s a nightmare to keep the shelves clean and looking pretty. I don’t know about you, but I cook in my kitchen everyday. There is always some kind of mess to clean up by the stove area and around the sink.

    Okay, enough of my two cents that looks like it turned in to maybe ten cents …LOL! I think the kitchen looks great so far. Enjoy hunting down some inspiration for setting up your shelves with pretty and functional things. I love jones design company’s kitchen. Check out her shelving.

  11. Aww Traci – I had some catching up to do on your blog! Sista, you and that man of yours has been busy!!!! WOW, what a gorgeous transformation. I just love it!!!!!

    Marilyn C.

  12. Your kitchen is looking fabulous. I’m so impressed with what you and your husband are doing. I love corbels. I especially love that you are actually using them and they are not just decoration (like in my kitchen.) Can’t wait for the final reveal.

    Hope you got your tree put up.

  13. Love it! Your kitchen looks amazing Traci!! What a transformation and you’re not even done. I’m obsessed with open shelving too and will send you my inspiration files!

  14. It all looks great! I think it’s totally your taste (at least what you say you like). I think all of the accessorizing will make them pop. I’m sure it will take some tweaking, but you’ll make them look fantastic!!! Love all the changes so far!

  15. Love them, Traci!!! I don’t think they’re a fad at all. I know I couldn’t do it because we have mostly hand-me-down dishes so it would never look pretty but I know you will make them look wonderful!!!

    1. well, mismatched hand me down dishes can be a challenge. A website years ago encouraged using all white dishes, even if they are mismatched…..I tried it and it was a super idea. it was very intersting too. I got them at goodwill, yard sales, Pennies on the dollar!

  16. Oh my gosh it looks amazing! I love the sink especially. I personally wouldn’t be able to have open shelving in my kitchen I don’t think. It would be too much for me to handle I think. It drives me nuts when things look out of place, so I feel like if I had open shelving I’d be constantly analyzing it. However, yours are lovely & I applaud those who are able to take them on! I can’t imagine how much hard work you guys are doing! Amazing!

  17. I wasn’t a fan of shelving instead of cabinets before. I like shelves as accent pieces instead, but I don’t know, I may have just become of fan of open shelving after all!

  18. Luv this idea!!when we moved to TX. that what i wanted, but hubby wasn’t to keen on this idea..but now he has made me shelves for all the rooms..luv them..like viewing my decor..great job!! I’ve also been re-doing
    R rooms..doing 1 room @ a time though..thx.. for sharin! :)

  19. I personally don’t want open shelves in my kitchen, because I can’t pull it off. But I think you’ll do great. You already are.

    Wanna come and paint my cabinets and remove my soffits? Or have pointers?

  20. I love the way it looks!! It is so open and bright! I don’t think open shelving is a fad, I think it is a timeless classic that can be made to look vintage or modern, depending on what you do with it. I am really going to have to consider doing this with my kitchen, I love it so much!

  21. Yes-your kitchen looks great so far!! And NO–open shelves are always in style. My Gramma had open shelves in her kitchen in the 60’s and a farmhouse sink!! My aunt kept them when she remodeled because she loved them so much. And the couple that bought the home from her updated them a bit, but kept the sink and the layout of the shelves the same. They say what goes around comes around and I think that is so right. Your kitchen is already looking fabulous and I can not wait to see the completion. When you first showed this home I thought it could never look as wonderful as your prior home–but you are showing us it will for sure…

  22. Awesome, and gutsy! Where are you going to put everything that was in the pantry??? I wish I had a big enough kitchen to take down all my upper cabs and still have enough storage!

    I built black shelves, based on yours, a year or two ago. Then, I felt like you…not quite the right look, too curvy, too something. I finally figured it out – they were too feminine! I have a farmer and two little boys and as much as I love the feminine, frilly cottage look, it just wasn’t ever going to mesh with our lifestyle, know what I mean? So I made new shelves using salvaged barn wood from my great grandpa’s farm, and it “fits” us so much better! (They’re not on my blog yet…I should really snap a few pics!)

  23. Hi, I’ve been following over on your facebook and it was about time for me to get over here and comment! :) The kitchen is dramatic so far with changes! LOVE the shelves & the subway tile. The sink and counter tops rock & who cares if it’s a fad :) You can always add cabinets down the road if you get board with shelves :) LOVE LOVE LOVE them!

  24. Absolutely love your kitchen and fad or not, those shelves look like they were meant to be there!!!
    PS Just watched your gorgeous boy singing on fb (Thanks to Layla for posting). He is amazing and definitely has a gift! (one of my favourites by Chris August)

  25. I LOVE these shelves. I think they have a classic look to them. And your kitchen looks so much bigger now!!! I’m totally jealous!!!

  26. Your kitchen is coming along nicely! I don’t envy you the process though!! I HATE it when my house is in disarray because of remodeling! :) I probably wouldn’t go for the open shelving, just because I’m NOT good at keeping my cabinets perfectly neat all the time, but I love it for you!

  27. I have been lurking on your site for several years, inconsistently, but you have lured me in with these remodels. I am actually about 50 minutes West from you so I think of you as my neighbor and oh how you make me want to sell this “newish”, “everything is done so don’t think about touching it” home! I love it all, especially your guts to start this kitchen project in the throws of your additional. Cannot wait to see the final results! I wonder if those shelves would look good in my dining room in place of a china cabinet? Hmmmm.

  28. I absolutely love it. I read one time that “our home is a container to fill with the things we love”. That’s the way I look at it. We should surround ourselves with the colors, fabrics, etc., that make us smile.

  29. Traci, your kitchen if gorgeous! When it is all said and done, you will love cooking in your new kitchen. I think your open shelves look very nice.
    I wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas. You deserve a rest!

  30. My only issue is the dusting. Kind of like cleaning on top of your refrigerator which never gets done, I put a strip of saran wrap across the top of it so when I want to clean it I can just pull off the ‘old dust’ and add a new one. Although since I am only five foot high I don’t clean the top of my refrigerator more than once a blue.red or green moon. get my point? I would want see through cabinets with glass or ‘glass type’ look so I could have an open look without dust. I LOVE the back splash and the pantry. You did an awesome job.

  31. Love!!! Amazing the before and after, can’t believe it’s the same kitchen. I have 4 kids too and even if I had open shelves I doubt dust would be a problem because we use a LOT of dishes. Can’t wait to see them with all your dishes on there.

    As for the fad thing I don’t really think it’s a fad. I’ve seen older farmhouse kitchens with open shelves. Plus I usually ignore people when they tell me stuff I am doing I may not like in 10-15 years because by then I figure I’ll change it or repaint anyway! Just use the other shelves in your garage for storage or something then if you want them back someday you can put them back.

  32. Traci, I think open shelving is GREAT for other people’s houses. ;) I love the look, but we have a cat, so dander floats around the air all the time and would settle in our dishes. With four young kids, rinsing out my dishes BEFORE I can use them just isn’t on my list of Things to Do. But I really DO love the look, and I think yours are going to be beautiful!

  33. I don’t really care for the open shelf look for the entire space. I need to have lots of storage space and corners within the cabinets where I can hide things. It looks a little bare to me, but I’m sure once they are full and maybe there is a plant on one of the shelves…it will look very different.

  34. Tracie, your kitchen looks fabulous! In answer to your question, I personally do not prefer open shelving. I can absolutely apprectiate it in someone else’s home, but it’s still too much dust and “uncontainedness” for my personality.

  35. Open shelving seems to be popular right now, but I don’t think it’s a FAD. Restaurants have always had it because it’s easier to utilize, Martha has always had it, and just like other things, it has function, form, and character. I’ve seen both cluttered looking open shelving and pretty and everything in between so it’s completely not a fad.

  36. I love your shelves. I do not have them in my current home but we also have a lake cottage and the first thing I did when we bought it was rip out the cabinet with the dishes in it and put up open shelving, I love seeing my vintage disges there and everyone who uses the cottage doesn’t have to guess where the dishes and glasses are.

  37. Looks great!

    Just wanted to say I made your buckeyes last night!
    Made them for the first time last year, and they are now
    a family favorite. Your mom’s recipes live on. . . .

  38. Your kitchen is looking wonderful! What a dark to light transformation! As far as the shelving goes, it looks wonderful. I don’t think I’d have enough space for all my things or be able to keep it looking “company ready” but good luck! :) Enjoy your gorgeous results.

  39. You had me at subway tile. It’s beautiful. I can’t wait until you find your shelf-filling inspiration and see what you come up with. Fad or not; enjoy!

  40. Your kitchen looks amazing. I love the open shelving. Hubby was not to keen on that so we have traditional cabinets. I have considered taking the doors off. We’ll see.
    Excellent job. It looks amazing.

  41. You are my HERO! A gorgeous kitchen overhaul that all started with a couple of new shelves.
    I love the look of open shelving, but my stuff’s not pretty enough to display like that! :)

  42. Oh, my…I love the kitchen and your choices. I can tell you are thinking about a style that will stand the test of time…timeless, so go for it. The best part for me is that you allow us to follow along with your indecision…it makes me feel like it is okay to take a risk and not be so overwhelmed by the process that I refuse to start. I tend to like the middle of a project the best. Thanks for being so open and willing to allow us to see what it is really like to have a vision but not be sure of every step.

    1. I appreciate pat’s comment.

      “The best part for me is that you allow us to follow along with your indecision…it makes me feel like it is okay to take a risk and not be so overwhelmed by the process that I refuse to start”

      I hadnt thoughtof it this way, but I totally agree!

  43. Woo woo! It’s looking awesome! I must admit, I had no idea what you were going to do when you first showed your kitchen. Amazing progress!

    I lived with open shelving for the last 8 months during our kitchen reno… I liked it but I got overwhelmed looking at all my dishes all the time!. We just got new cabinet doors this month. I don’t think open shelving is a fad at all, just personal preference!

  44. You kids have done a gorgeous job. Enjoy it. Fad or not doesn’t matter. In time if you want cabinets, just change it out. You’ve certainly shown you can make it happen!! xoxox Vicki

  45. You asked for my honest opinion..
    here goes..
    Nope..don’t like them at all..
    open shelves are pretty to look at..
    but they are for displaying just that..
    pretty stuff to look at,
    and probably not use..
    BUT, in the kitchen, especially an active kitchen ,one constantly in use..
    I prefer doors CLOSED to protect the CLEAN, Ready to Use dishes and glassware,.
    in my kitchen, there seems to be far too much dust and grime from cooking..
    perhaps because here it is winter, and the doors and windows are closed to the frigid air!
    Personally, I feel this is a costly FAD..
    COSTLY Fad you ask?
    because soon you will tire of the shelves, and will want cabinets again..
    demolishing the old, in with the new..costly!
    warmest hugs..

    1. Wow! Interesting comment.
      I had open shelving, seems like when your dishes are in the sink or dish washer, it only takes a swipe of the dish cloth to wipe the shelf down before you put the dishes back. Wasnt a problem for ME!
      AND I cant see where this is a “costly fad”..shelves and corbels versus all new cabinets? hmmm Obviously open shelving is not for everyone.

  46. Love your kitchen! Love the open shelves! They are not a fad, they’ve been around for decades – they are a “style” of kitchen storage. Of course I am still in love with your ceiling! All you’ve done is SPECTACULAR!

    Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and many blessings!

    Ana María

  47. I love those shelves, but it’s that countertop that really makes me drool! You’re an inspiration & I love that you two are doing this yourselves :)

  48. I love, love, love, love, love your new kitchen! Everything about it – the wood floors, wood ceiling, new pantry, white cabinets, wood counters and open shelves. I think the open shelves are beautiful. Great for storing everyday dishes and glasses and also decorative pieces like cake stands. I wish my kitchen looked like yours. Are the open shelves a fad? Who knows? Who cares? It’s your house and you need to be happy and comfortable in it and that is a very personal thing. You just need to do what makes you happy. It’s very expensive and wasteful to be a slave to fads in decorating and totally unnecessary if you are happy with your surroundings. The only thing is that you will have to frequently dust and even wash the shelves and lesser used items on it. Some people don’t mind the extra work for the beauty of open shelves. I hope you’re in that category. I bet you just stand back and look at the transformation with a huge grin on your face, and that’s all that matters! Enjoy! I’m eagerly waiting to see it completely finished and with everything set out on the shelves.

  49. Traci could you divulge your source for the corbels? I’m so close to doing open shelving in my kitchen but haven’t found corbels that I like and yours are perfect….no too fussy…looks great..also love the new countertops and sink…Thanks!

  50. Traci – I have SO enjoyed watching you transform your kitchen so far! LUV what you’ve done, and I found that your vision is very much like mine would’ave been for that space. I think open shelving will always be in style in one way or another. I adore the look! Being able to see all of your pretty white dishes, easy access to them all, and the airiness that it lends to the kitchen is wonderful! I took the doors off one cabinet in our kitchen last year to show my white ironstone. The only problem I’ve encountered is that if you have a hubby (like I do) that loves to cook, saute, and fry things….well, I find myself washing those dishes alot more than the ones inside the cupboards. Other than that, I’d have 75% of my cabinets gone if it were up to me! Keep on truckin’, girl! You’re doing great!! Oh, and hang on to that hubby of yours. He’s definitely a keeper! lol!

    xoxo laurie

  51. Your kitchen looks nice! Personally, I’m not a fan of open shelving, but that’s only because I don’t want to have to worry about putting things like dishes away neatly.

  52. You are so brave! I’ve always loved open shelves but I am such a slob I sure could not pull this off. I am so enjoying your refinishing and I want to know where I can find such a talented hubby? (LOL) I guess I am too old to go through all of the hard work. God bless and have a Merry Christmas

  53. Love the new look of your kitchen. I would not personally want the open shelves but I like them in your kitchen. :) I don’t really think of them as a fad…I kind of think of them as European. Not that I have ever been to Europe but I do watch House Hunters International. lol

  54. Your kitchen makeover is amazing!! This makes me want to paint my cabinets and install subway tile. I am afraid I have too much junky dishes to have open shelving, but I do love the clean look of it!

    1. I get a lotof my colorful dishes from dollar stores, goodwill,yard sales etc, I posted above, that years ago, a designer on tv said try all white dishes , especially mismatched ones, they are interesting on the table.
      I did and It was a super idea. and affordable. Right now i have big southwest plates I got from dollar store.Very colorful!Try Ross too! Great stuff!

  55. Fad or not, do what you love!! I am amazed at the transformation in your kitchen! You are doing an awesome job and I love your choices!

  56. wow! Looks amazing! I don’t think open shelving is a fad. I think it’s a classic that is trendy these days, but when it stops being a trend, I don’t think it will look dated. I love the look of open shelving, but I’m not brave enough. The dust. The potential cooking grease. I don’t know if I have the energy for it ;-). But it looks great – you go!

  57. Hi Traci! I LOVE your open shelves! However, I HATE the word FAD! Who says what’s in & what’s out?? It’s all about personal taste & style not about who says what’s in or out! Your kitchen SCREAMS open shelves as being a smaller kitchen, it needs that openess to make it look more open & less confined. If I didn’t live in earthquake country, I would LOVE to have open shelves. Your new kitchen is one of the most amazing DIY kitchen renovations I have seen. Hubs & I love watching Renovation Realities & your kitchen tops those!!

  58. I love the new look! I don’t worry too much about trends. I know what I like and that is what I have in our house.
    Beautiful job so far!


  59. I recently moved into a tiny 1934 house I rent from my daughter. First thing I had her do before I made the move from Texas was taken the cabinet doors off in the kitchen. No sense in her painting them if I was just going to turn around and take them off. I love the look, but I live alone and things stay tidy. You can go to my current post and I think see at least one of the pics.

    I adore what you’ve done! Changed the look completely and is so open.

  60. I also love what you have done, I also love your husband, I remember asking once before …can we clone him?

    Ok , no I guess. However I love your energy and as Pat said, your willingness to go ahead and try new stuff. And take us with you! Kudos!

  61. I love your open shelves! I would love to have some in my kitchen but the way my kitchen is configured, there really isn’t a practical place to have them. Makes me crazy because I love the way they look. As far as dust, sounds like lots of people don’t realize that closed cabinets also get dusty! Cleaning is required no matter what you choose. Love love love your kitchen, and am trying desperately hard to be happy for you and not let the green eyed monster get the best of me! ;-)
    Merry Christmas!

  62. LOVE THEM! We are actually planning to install our open shelves this weekend and I will be sure to reference this post. Your corner next to your microwave will almost be an identical shelf-layout to what we are going for. Can you let me know how you handled the corner? Did you attach each board to each other in some way? Like you, we will have two shelves on each wall, forming an “L”. Since we can’t put a bracket where the two shelves meet in the corner, I have been wondering if we should piece them together. (Forgive me if I’m making zero sense! :) )
    Here are some pictures of our open wall – just waiting for the shelves to be installed!

  63. Has anyone had success putting shelves up like this and then hanging an ‘over the range’ microwave? I’m curious if there are sturdy enough to support the weight of a microwave or if that can truly only be done under a cabinet?

  64. Hi. I’m planning on using the exact same corbels to hold up a couple of open shelves. This may seem like a dumb question. But how are the corbels hung on the wall?

    1. You will see how they are to be hung on the back of the corbels. They have holes in the back for you to put your nails into.
      If you are putting something really heavy on them though, you might consider actually nailing them to the wall.

    2. They have brackets on the back that you can use to hang them, plus we used some super strong glue to attach them to the walls and bottom of shelf as well. I believe my husband my have used a nail gun on a couple of places. Do whatever it takes to make them sturdy. :)

  65. I love your open kitchen concept and planning to incorporate that into my kitchen makeover. Can you tell me if you add the corbels before or after tiling? Thanks!!

  66. I know this is a really old post, have same kitchen set up and want my soffits down what did you do with electric that was over sink and wherever else?

  67. I love your kitchen! The shelves look beautiful with your butcher block countertop. How did you attach the shelves in the corner where the two shelves met?

  68. it is for sure a fad for the time being but really what trend hasn’t been a fad?! it looks amazing and it’s your home so if you love it that’s all that matters! Namaste

  69. What a difference the open shelves make. I have wanted to do the same in our small dark kitchen, but my husband is a little skeptical. I am going to show him your project. I know he will be very impressed as well. Thank you for sharing it.

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