I love a lot of things about our new house. We have twice the room we had in the apartment. We have a yard with grass of our very own! We can actually paint the walls without having to repaint them after a year right before moving. But there is one thing that I don’t like so much. That is our kitchen.
It’s funny, the kitchen in our apartment had less space, but it was actually a better kitchen. It had a better layout, the room flowed better, everything had a place. This kitchen… not so much. There is one wall with everything “kitcheny” on it. As you can see in the picture below. There is no place for a dishwasher, and once you put a microwave on the counter, there is very little counter space. Or storage space for dishes. (The upper cabinets aren’t even wide enough for plates, though they do fit glasses and spices well enough.)
So after living in the house for several months (read way too long), I finally decided to do something about it.
Now there are a lot of big/expensive fixes. We couldn’t afford to do those. So I decided to dress up the kitchen a little by putting up some nice open shelving. We needed the storage space, and I’d seen the look on pinterest and thought it was pretty. Plus it was budget friendly and seemed fairly doable for a first time project-er.
Here is the finished result! It may not seem like much, but they really brighten up the kitchen and make it feel prettier. I love the rustic look of the stained boards and black brackets. We already had the white dishes, and I think they look nice on the shelves.
We didn’t have a lot of money when I was doing this project, so I tried to lower the cost as much as possible. I reused brackets that were in the garage being used for mismatched shelves and just spray painted them black. Did we actually save money (given that the cost of that style of bracket is really cheap anyway)? Well, I didn’t check to see how expensive (or inexpensive) the brackets were- I just decided I would use what we had. And I think they look just fine!
Here’s what my process looked like (in case you’re interested or want to do it yourself):
- Looked around for inspiration on pinterest- I already knew what I wanted (open shelves to hold our dishes that we use daily), so I looked for a style I liked and decided on wood shelves with black brackets.
- Made a trip to our local Home Depot and bought the materials: 2 pine boards (6′), Minwax wood stain in cherry (#235), Minwax polycrylic in a clear satin finish, black spray paint (for the brackets), and short screws
- Measured the space above the sink and left 1/8″ room to fit the board into the wall. Cut the boards to the right size.
- Sanded the boards, then wiped them down with a damp cloth to get rid of any dust.
- Stained the boards (2 coats) with a day between coats
- Polyeurthaned the boards with one coat. (I was going to do two, but I ran out of patience.)
- Attempted to put up the shelves with just screws in drywall. Quickly found out that doesn’t work.
- Husband advises to use anchors (like he suggested the first 5 times) and I agree it’s a good idea. Make a trip to our local Home Depot and have him pick out some trusty anchors.
- Measure and mark exactly where to put the shelves, making sure that they are level. Have husband put up the shelves with minor assistance from yours truly.
- Jump up and down because they’re finished and they look pretty! Hooray for first time projects working out! Hurry and put all our dishes on them right away to see how they look. Celebrate with a New Year’s kiss. (Yes, we put them up just before midnight on New Year’s Eve.)
So there you go. My process for putting up open shelving in the kitchen. I really liked the way this project turned out. A little later I added white Christmas lights to brighten up the space. (Since we don’t have very good lighting in the kitchen.) I also added a viney plant- I love the way it looks with the vines hanging down the shelf! (You can read about my little kitchen plant here.)
Now that it’s been a few months though, there are some things I would do differently if I were to do it again. One, I would probably use a more rustic-brown color of stain. (I like the reddish color, but it kind of makes decorating hard and it gets a little old after a while.) Two, I would look for nicer brackets. I was in money-saving mode when I was doing these shelves and I love the way it turned out, but if I were to do it again I would at least look around for other brackets.
One thing to note is that I did a lot of research before deciding to do open shelving and I read a lot of comments against them for a couple of reasons- depending on how you style them, open shelving can look cluttered; and open shelving in the kitchen means dusty, grimy dishes because of grease and dust. So I was a little hesitant to try them. I mean, what if I put in all that time and money and I didn’t like it?
But I’m happy to say that we haven’t had either of these problems! I think styling it with white dishes and clear glass simplifies the look and keeps it classy and elegant instead of cluttered and visually stressful. And we use every single dish up there every single week. If not every day. So far I haven’t had any trouble with dust or grease- we wash them too much for that!
I hope this post is helpful for you if you’re thinking of doing open shelves in the kitchen (or anywhere else). Tell me what you think! Aren’t they awesome! Do you like open shelving or are you not a fan?