Open Shelving vs. Closed Cabinets: Pros and Cons for Kitchen Storage

Open Shelving vs. Closed Cabinets: Pros and Cons for Kitchen Storage

The heart of every home, the kitchen, demands a delicate balance between functionality and aesthetics. Among the many decisions homeowners face when designing or renovating their kitchen, the choice between open shelving and closed cabinets for storage is one that significantly impacts both style and practicality. Each option brings its unique set of advantages and drawbacks to the table, and understanding them can help you make an informed decision tailored to your needs and preferences.

Open Shelving

Open Shelving with gray shaker cabinets, Round wooden dining table,

Open shelving has gained popularity in recent years for its ability to impart a sense of openness and airiness to the kitchen. Its ability to add an expansive feel to the kitchen by exposing dishware, cookbooks, and decorative items adds a touch of charm and character to any space. Here are some pros and cons to consider:


  1. Visual Appeal: Open shelves create an open and airy feel in the kitchen, making any space appear larger and more inviting. 
  2. Easy Access: With open shelving, your frequently used items are within arm’s reach, making it convenient to grab dishes, glasses, and ingredients while cooking. 
  3. Decorative Display: Open shelves offer an opportunity to showcase decorative items, such as vintage dishware, cookbooks, or plants, adding personality and character to the kitchen
  4. Customization Opportunities: One of the key advantages of open shelving is the ability to customize the look and feel of your kitchen: open shelves offer flexibility in terms of arrangement and design. You can mix and Match different shelving and materials, such as wood, metal, or glass to complete the look. You also have the freedom to adjust the height and spacing of the shelve to accommodate items of varying sizes and heights. 
  5. Enhancing Visual Continuity: Open shelving promotes visual continuity in the kitchen by allowing items to blend seamlessly with the surrounding decor. By showcasing your favorite dishes, glassware, and cookware on open shelves, you create a cohesive look that ties the entire space together. 


  1. Dust and Dirt: Without doors to protect them, items on open shelves are susceptible to dust, grease, and kitchen debris, requiring frequent cleaning and maintenance.
  2. Clutter Potential: Open shelving requires meticulous organization and curation to maintain an aesthetically pleasing appearance. Without proper attention, shelves can quickly become cluttered and chaotic
  3. Limited Storage: open shelves may not be suitable for storing all kitchen items, particularly those that are less visually appealing or used infrequently. 

Closed Cabinets

Shaker Espresso kitchen cabinet paired with stainless steel applainces

Lily Ann Cabinets: Shaker Espresso

Closed cabinets have long been a staple in kitchen design, offering concealed storage solutions that keep clutter, like cookware and pantry staples,  out of sight. Here's a closer look at the pros and cons:


  1. Concealed Storage: Close cabinets keep kitchen items hidden from view, maintaining a clean and streamlined appearance.
  2. Protection: Cabinets protect dishes, glassware, and other items shielding them from dust, grease, and potential damage. 
  3. Versatility: Cabinets come in various sizes, styles, and configurations, offering customizable storage solutions to accommodate different kitchen layouts and storage needs. 
  4. Integrated Appliances: Closed cabinets offer a practical solution for integrating kitchen appliances seamlessly into the cabinetry, maintaining a sleepy and unified appearance. Built-in ovens, microwaves, and refrigerators can be concealed behind cabinet doors, preserving the clean lines and minimalist aesthetic of modern kitchen design. 
  5. Privacy and Security: In addition to concealing kitchen items from view, closed cabinets provide an added layer of privacy and security for valuable or sensitive items, Items such as fine china, silverware, and expensive kitchen gadgets can be safely stored behind closed doors, protecting them from potential damage or theft.


  1. Limited Visibility: With closed cabinets, it can be challenging to quickly locate and access items, especially those stored in the back or at higher levels.
  2. Perceived Bulkiness: Closed cabinets can make a kitchen feel more enclosed and crumpled, particularly in small spaces. 
  3. Cost: Cabinets, especially custom-built or high-quality ones, can be more expensive than open shelving, adding to the overall cost of kitchen renovation or remodeling projects. 

In Conclusion… 

In conclusion, whether you opt for open shelving, closed cabinets, or a combination of both, careful consideration of your needs, preferences, and lifestyle will help you create a functional and aesthetically pleasing kitchen space that reflects your unique style and personality. By weighing the pros and cons of each storage option and exploring creative design solutions, you can transform your kitchen into the heart of your home, where style meets functionality seamlessly.

Start your kitchen journey today with Lily Ann Cabinets! Head to our website to order FREE SAMPLES, get a FREE 3D DESIGN, or meet with our professional designers and get real time answers to your questions with LILY ANN LIVE.

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  3. Kitchen Shelves: 10 Ways to Style Them
  4. 25 Creative Bathroom Shelving Ideas for Stylish and Functional Storage

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

1. How do I decide between open shelving and closed cabinets for my kitchen?

Deciding between open shelving and closed cabinets depends on your personal preferences, lifestyle, and kitchen habits. Consider factors such as the amount and type of items you need to store, your organizational style, cleaning preferences, and the overall aesthetic you wish to achieve. If you value easy access and enjoy showcasing decorative items, open shelving might be the way to go. On the other hand, if you prefer a clutter-free and streamlined look with concealed storage, closed cabinets might be a better fit for your kitchen.

2. Can I combine open shelving and closed cabinets in my kitchen?

Yes! Combining open shelving and closed cabinets can offer the best of both worlds, providing functional storage solutions while allowing you to showcase decorative items. Consider incorporating open shelves in areas where you want to display beautiful dishware, cookbooks, or plants, while reserving closed cabinets for storing everyday essentials and less visually appealing items. This hybrid approach allows you to enjoy the benefits of both storage options while maintaining a balanced and visually appealing kitchen design.

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