Decorating Open Shelves


I will be honest that when I began putting items on my open shelves in the kitchen, I was a little nervous.

Mainly because I have seen so many pictures of beautiful open shelves in blogland, that I knew mine would never look that good.














But two days before Christmas, I went to work putting items that I already had on my shelves.

And to my surprise, it wasn’t as hard as I thought.



Now,  they may not be arrange perfectly (as far as a “designer” may be concerned.)  But for me, they work!


kitchen 025

Most of the things on my shelves are hand-me-downs or Goodwill finds.  The only “expensive” dishes I have are my Willow House dishes.  (Most of which I got free for hosting parties or I bought them when they were severely on sale.)


kitchen 013 (2)


I wanted a wreath for my window, so Cy went to Lowe’s on Christmas Eve day and picked up this real one on clearance.  It was  a little dry, but it was just what I wanted!

I just added some ribbon that I already had to hang it in front of the window.




The only part of the shelving that I did not like was above the microwave. It was Christmas Eve, I was tired, and I just threw what I had left up there.

kitchen 027 (2)

I tried to space the pops of red and green dishes throughout my shelves.

Like I said, I know that someone else could probably do a better job styling my shelves (like my buddy, Layla), but for me, I love the way it looks.

kitchen 039

Some of you (like my sister) said  you would not like open shelves because you would always worry about it not looking “right”.  Or it would stress you out when things were out of place.

I totally get that.  I mean I REALLY get that.

I worry about that too sometimes.

But it was so easy putting this dishes out, that I think I will be okay. 

I will let you know how I like my shelves throughout the year.   It’s going to be fun to “grow” with this kitchen.



Do you worry about styling open shelves?



Also, winners of the

Jeanne Oliver Designs Ecourse are:

1.  kelly (cooperkelly4)

I would love to win this!!! I need all the crafting help I can get. =0) Your Winner

2.  Misti (sabinecreek)

This sounds wonderful!

3.  Kim (ckaasa)
This looks so fun and like a great way to start the new year!! Happy New Year to you!! :)

4.  Connie Wuske

This would be AWESOME! Thanks!

5.  Cindy Burke

What a perfect giveaway for the beginning of a new year!! I would love to participate ..what a blessing! thanks, cindy


  1. Traci, the shelves look amazing – you’d have done any designer proud! Everything is well balanced and set up beautifully! Way to go! I think open shelving is such a great way to display what you’ve got and you’ve certainly got some bargoons…..

  2. We took the doors off some of our cabinets about a year ago and I’ve never looked back or regretted the decision for a second! It helps tremendously that I love white dishes and thanks to my dish-loving MIL, have hand-me-downs from her. But I worried about styling the shelves and played with them a lot at first and then realized that I love seeing stacks of dishes, bowls and fun serving piecees out and on display. I LOVE that it’s an easy change up – you can change the whole look of your kitchen by just a few accent pieces on open shelving…especially fun at Christmas and changes of seasons. And worst case, if you don’t love the look you put together, you just try again!

    I’ve never commented on your blog before, but I have loved watching your kitchen transformation as well as looking back to other projects you and your family have taken on. You have tremendous talent and you and your hubby make a great team! You kitchen looks AMAZING!! Thanks for sharing it with us.

  3. I love your kitchen, the red and green pops of color are great!! And that farm house sink, to die for!! Thanks for sharing the wonderful pics, you did a fantastic job of styling!! Sue

  4. I love the pops of red you used with your Christmas look! I don’t know if I could “do” open shelves or not. I wouldn’t mind a few, but not too many, since my kids put the dishes away, and would never care as much about styling the shelves as I do. ;-) But, I love that you can easily change the look of your kitchen with fun accessories and different colors – can’t do that with closed shelving. Maybe I need a happy medium of glass front shelves. Call me Switzerland. ;-)

  5. I think they look great. The colors are balanced quite nicely, it isn’t over loaded with too many items, and that red is a awesome shot of color. I don’t think I would fret to much over the styling what, would get me would be dusting the top shelf. LOL I am only 5 foot tall and have to get a stool for everything.

  6. Let’s see — I have just about every one of those cinnabar dishes and bowls you have and I also snagged those verde bowls when they were on clearance. I just started on my red thing. I have NEVER purchased anything red before 2011. Ever. I think I even have the white dish that you have on your counter under the planter! I have a matching one that I would love to send you; up here in Chicago, we do beige and “greige” not white! I will email you privately. I have to find it first! Check out the Santorini red planter and Cinnabar canisters; they would look lovely too, although I do know that they are expensive. I heart mine, probably way too much for an inanimate object. My Willow House girl says that I know more about Willow House than any “lay person” should! Of course, I love your blog and more and more I see how similar we decorate!!!

  7. The styling is beautiful, Traci. What a pleasure to work in this kitchen everyday. Your vision has become a reality! I am so liking the open shelves–there are not too many and they are not too high–everything you need is right there and many of your pretties on display. You must be smiling all the time when you are in your kitchen. I am definitely planning on some open shelves when we start building in two years!
    Sindy :)

  8. Your kitchen transformation is absolutely beautiful. The one question I have is where are your everyday dishes and even more so where are your glasses?

    Can’t wait to see more on your addition. By seeing the kitchen I’m sure it will be way over the top.

  9. I would definitely try them!! I’ve had glass fronts before and I really liked them as well. I believe in white dishes with a color pop – like you. It makes it so easy to create displays and table settings that way.

    Love your new kitchen!

  10. I think it’s just beautiful! But I wonder about all the dusting you would have to do to keep it looking nice. Is that a problem?

  11. I too wonder about the dust. My house is thirty years old and there is a lot of dust so I don’t think this would work for me but it is beautiful. I also would not have enough storage if I took my upper cabinet down, but you have that great pantry so it works for you so enjoy.

  12. Your open shelves and IKEA butcher block counter tops look fantastic. I launched my new blog on New Years Day. The first post was about this very topic. Thanks for the how-to on cutting and finishing the counters tops.

  13. Let’s be honest: cabinet doors allow us to shove things in & not think about how they look. Open shelves keep us accountable & prevent us from becoming hoarders!

    I have a friend with a drool worthy kitchen & she has open shelves on either side of her farmhouse sink (and did i mention marble countertops?!!!) Her white dishes & mason jar drinking glasses look wonderful on the open shelves. The rest of the kitchen has regular cabinets so I think she has the best of both worlds.

  14. The pops of red are perfect!
    I think you will grow with it and see what works well for your family. Stacks of dishes and bowls look lovely on open shelves. I wouldn’t worry too much about dust, it can be wiped away easily. It’s a lovely look.

  15. Traci, I think your shelves look great! We’re planning to take down one set of cabinets to put up shelves. I posted about it today and one of my readers suggested I come here and check out your post! Lol. Love blogland! Anyway, you did a lovely job…and you can change it up anytime you like! So much more fun than closed cupboard doors!

  16. I moved here to the little blue house in Tulsa in late October. I have a very small kitchen and all top open shelves. I love it! Opened up the room, just like it did with yours. Love what you did with them. I had lunch with a new friend today, Judy of 20 North Ora. She mentioned you. Wanted to come by and introduce myself. Happy New Year!

  17. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Your kitchen looks identical to the designer kitchens. I really thought that one of the pics was your kitchen. The only way I realized it wasn’t was because you have stainless steel and the other kitchen has white appliances. Great job. I look forward to your next project and all the inspiration it gives me.

  18. Well, you have voiced the same thing I have asked myself time and again – will I be able to keep the open shelves orderly? My husband and most of my family says very emphatically NO! LOL I don’t know – in my mind it seems like it would make things easier b/c you would be forced to add mostly the utilitarian items such as plates, bowls, etc – and b/c it is open you would not fill the shelving with the plastic sippy cups, the Tiger plates, etc. But then what would I do with the sippy cups and Tiger plates. I don’t know. sigh I will be very interested in following your thoughts on the open shelves. Either way, I love them. I think you did an amazing job. Also, that first inspiration pic made me sigh. Yummy :)

  19. I think they look great. I think they will be fun to decorate. I would love to do thaty in our kitchen but we plan to sell our house in 2 more years and I don’t know how they would be for resale value. They look great.

  20. I <3 the open shelves, and I think you have styled them beautifully. I have a lot of Goodwill pieces as well, and I think all of your things go wonderfully together.
    My concern isn't so much display/ arrangement, but the keeping everything clean when they are out in the open. How do you handle that issue? Or is that not a problem for you?
    I have been seriously contemplating making open shelves just because I think it would make the kitchen look bigger. My kitchen is small, and a whole kitchen remodel is out of the question at the moment, so I like the idea of the open shelves as a cheap (frugal) makeover. Are you completely happy with your open shelves?

  21. Girl! I TOLD you that yours was magazine worthy!!! ITS GORGEOUS! Love all the bargin finds mixed in with all thos precious ones from Wanda! SWEET!

    Marilyn C.

  22. I think you’ve underestimated yourself. Everything looks beautiful. Right after we finished our kitchen open shelving became popular. I have been contemplating removing some of our doors but am worried about the mess factor. We’ll see. Your kitchen looks amazing.

  23. I just LOVE your open shelving. Not only do you have to make it look pretty, though, you also have to dust. That would be my down fall. Anyway, I wanted to say your counters are so nice and clean. Where do you keep your coffee pot, toaster, etc. I keep mine on my counter since they are used every day. Just wondering.

  24. I’m no designer, but to me yours look every bit as beautiful as the others. I’m re-decorating my kitchen with pops of red, and I think I need to copy some of your ideas. Nicely done Traci!

  25. YOUR shelves look just as good, if not better than some of the designer styled ones!
    Face it, girl! You have amazing talent! :D
    God has blessed you with *designer* taste and style.

  26. I’m moving in to your kitchen next week! Will that be a problem for you or your boys? Your pantry project makes me want to do a happy dance. Maybe I can get a pantry in our kitchen! And those shelves? Don’t even get me started! Subway tile? Check, check, check! So just look for me soon! I’ll be the chick rolling around on the floor in your kitchen soaking it all in! (P.S. It’s okay if you don’t sweep first. I have four kids!)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *