Make Your Kitchen Feel Larger with Open Shelves
09/20 Design Tips

Make Your Kitchen Feel Larger with Open Shelves

See how we make our kitchens feel larger without adding a single square foot!

One trick for making your kitchen feel larger that requires zero additional square footage — break up your upper cabinets with open shelving! Not only does it give you a fun place for styling, but it also gives your eye a visual break and makes it uppers feel less heavy.

If you don't have a window above your sink, open shelving is a great opportunity to make the space feel open. In our Hillside Kitchen Remodel, the floating wood shelves added an organic, warmth while bringing the tile to the ceiling made the kitchen feel taller and airy.

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From our Hillside Kitchen Remodel

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Design by Vanessa Francis

If we don't want to block or obscure the light of a window, but we still want storage and to fill a space, we'll use open shelving. In the Emerson Project kitchen, we knew we didn't want to add another upper cabinet. It would have blocked the beautiful view of the large window above the sink.

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From our Emerson Project

We broke up the upper cabinets with a corner of open shelving in the Evergreen Kitchen Remodel. It was a great way to utilize the corner space and it allowed us to center the hood and surrounding cabinets above the range.

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From our Evergreen Kitchen Remodel

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Design by MRTN Architects

Styling an open shelving unit can be a challenge. But whether you want to take a minimalist route or a maximalist route, they're sure fun to style. Take this opportunity to show off your favorite kitchen accessories!

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Studio McGee
  1. What if you have a soffit above the cabinets? Can you still put in floating shelves like you did on the Emerson project?

  2. Yes, I hate seeing a wall of uppers. The examples that you give are soooo wonderful! Are the shelves solid or hollow like many sold at retail locations? If solid, I’d love to know what fasteners/brackets are used which can hold up such heavy shelves. Thanks so much for all of your design advice!!

  3. We did this recently in our kitchen and we love how much bigger the space appears! We are still in the process of chosing shelving and deciding on tile layout that will work best with the space. Would love some input?

  4. Love these examples and all of your work!! I would also love to know where the wood shelves from the Hillside project came from.

  5. Dear Studio McGee,

    Beautiful designs! What thickness do you recommend for open floating shelving in a kitchen. How do you fasten the shelves to the wall? Is there a technique, hardware or specific kit?

    Thank you for the inspirational posts,
    Cassidy Davelaar

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