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Outside the Box: 7 Unexpected Open Storage Strategies for the Kitchen

Skye McAlpine Kitchen by Jersey Ice Cream Co.

There are so many reasons to consider open storage in the kitchen: Having your essentials out in the open discourages hoarding tendencies; it makes cooking easier when everything is accessible and visible; it can be a great way to display pretty tools; and it’s both a classic look (think Julia Childs and her pegboard of pots and pans) and an au courant trend. But if those arguments for open storage don’t sway you, how about this? If you’re planning a kitchen remodel, mounting open shelves, doorless cupboards, a utensils rail, or a pot rack is much less expensive than having a full wall of cabinets with doors built and installed.

Here are seven ways, all easily achievable, to enjoy open storage in your kitchen.

1. Take the doors off the upper cabinets.

This is such a great idea for renters and homeowners alike: If you’re not ready to rip out your cabinets to create an airier kitchen, consider taking the doors off all of them—or just a few of them. It’s a good way to test the (open) waters and see if you like having your stuff displayed before committing to a more permanent solution.

Renata-Bokalo-and-Roman-Luba-apartment-Kate-Sears-photo-Remodelista-7
Above: Photograph by Kate Sears, from Small-Space Solutions: 17 Affordable Tips from an NYC Creative Couple.
cs-valentin-cobble-hill-brooklyn-jonathan-hokklo-2-1466x977
Above:Photograph by Jonathan Hokklo for Remodelista, from At Home with C. S. Valentin: French Eclecticism in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.
devol-bloomsbury-dark-shaker-cabinets
Above: Photograph courtesy of deVol, from Remodeling 101: Shaker-Style Kitchen Cabinets.

2. Open up the lower cabinets too.

We love this trend of opening up the lower cabinets as well. It’s not for everyone, but leaving some lower cabinets doorless can be a super-charming look.

Photograph courtesy of Scott & Scott Architects, from Kitchen of the Week: A Monumental Marble Countertop.
Above: Photograph courtesy of Scott & Scott Architects, from Kitchen of the Week: A Monumental Marble Countertop.
Rene and Nadine Redzepi Kitchen in Copenhagen, Photo Courtesy of Dinesen
Above: Photograph courtesy of Dinesen, from Expert Advice: Nadine Redzepi’s Secrets to a Well-Ordered Home Kitchen.
Deborah Ehrlich Kitchen Range (Edited) by Justine Hand
Above: Photograph by Justine Hand for Remodelista, from House Call: At Home in the Hudson Valley with Designer Deborah Ehrlich.

3. Add wall-mounted open shelving.

Serena Mitnik Miller Topanga Canyon Kitchen, Photo by Nicki Sebastian Courtesy of Rip and Tan
Above: Photograph by Nicki Sebastian, courtesy of Rip & Tan, from Kitchen of the Week: A Hip, Low-Key Kitchen in Topanga Canyon, Hidden Fridge Included.

This is what most people envision when they talk about open storage in the kitchen. Keep in mind that there are many different ways to have open shelving: Mount a few planks, one above the other, or simply install one long plank. And you can apply the look to an entire wall, or just a corner.

Board-and-batten SF kitchen remodel by Malcolm Davis Architecture
Above: Photograph by Paul Dyer, courtesy of Malcolm Davis Architecture, from Kitchen of the Week: A Modern Farmhouse Kitchen in SF (Before and After).
live-oak-kitchen-beamed-ceilings-wood-cabinets-jolie7
Above: Photography by and courtesy of Laure Joliet, from Kitchen of the Week: In Los Feliz, A Moody, Romantic Spanish Modern Update.

4. Roll in some storage furniture.

Another nonpermanent solution to achieve open storage in the kitchen: moving in a storage cart or industrial shelving.

Rene and Nadine Redzepi Kitchen Cart with Tabelware in Copenhagen, Photo Courtesy of Dinesen
Above: Photograph courtesy of Dinesen, from Expert Advice: Nadine Redzepi’s Secrets to a Well-Ordered Home Kitchen.
Rolling Shelves in Erin Scott Photo Studio
Above: Photograph courtesy of Erin Scott, from 9 Unexpected Storage Hacks from a Food Photographer’s Kitchen.

5. Install a utensils rail.

A utensils rail can be mounted below cabinets or shelves, or occupy a wall alone. And these days, there are so many stylish rails on the market that it doesn’t have to look industrial. We like this and this, in particular.

Dinesen Family Home in Denmark
Above: Photograph courtesy of Dinesen, from The Dinesen Family House: A Historic Renovation for Danish Design Royalty.
Skye McAlpine Kitchen by Jersey Ice Cream Co.
Above: Photograph and styling by Skye McAlpine, from Kitchen of the Week: Skye McAlpine’s London Flat by Jersey Ice Cream Co.
Alemanys 5 Ann Noguera in Spain
Above: Photograph from Medieval Meets Modern in Catalonia.

6. Put up a pegboard.

Hey, if the pegboard is good enough for Julia Childs, it’s good enough for us.

Falmouth Beach Cottage Peg Board
Above: Photograph by Justine Hand for Remodelista, from A Shipshape Cape Cod Cottage Inspired by Wes Anderson’s ‘The Life Aquatic.’
 Photograph by Amy Bartlam, from Kitchen of the Week: Practicality in White Marble.
Above: Photograph by Amy Bartlam, from Kitchen of the Week: Practicality in White Marble.
Rony Vardi's Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn townhouse open kitchen in navy, remodeled by Bangia Agostinho Architecture. Pia Ulin photo.
Above: Photograph by Pia Ulin, courtesy of Bangia Agostinho Architecture, from Brooklyn Makeover: A Homey Townhouse with a Modern Garret.

7. And don’t forget the peg rail.

We tend to think of the peg rail as a storage trick for the entryway or bedroom, but it can work just as well in the kitchen.

Vintage Whites Blog Budget Kitchen Remodel Black Island
Above: Photograph by Vanessa Pleasants, courtesy of Vintage Whites Blog, from Kitchen of the Week: In Montana, Rustic Chic on a Budget.
Shaker peg rail used for hanging accessories in the kitchen of illustrator/graphic designer Swantje Hinrichsen, Munster, Germany.
Above: Photograph by Swantje Hinrichsen, from Kitchen of the Week: An Artful Kitchen Created from Reclaimed Ikea Parts, Extreme Budget Edition.

Hungry for more open storage inspiration? Be sure to check out these stories:

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