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How to style an open shelving kitchen

Studio Anton and Covet Noir reveal how to perfect this classic kitchen style

Jade Bloomfield
By Jade Bloomfield, Editor
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The new year calls for fresh styling and an urge to organise. The best way to achieve both and elevate your kitchen in one go? Open shelving, styled just so.

Offering copious amounts of storage (a must in every kitchen), as well a focal point to the space, open shelves have become the latest enduring kitchen trend for good reason. Whether you’re looking to bring an existing open shelving unit a new lease of life or simply searching for an elevated take on built-in kitchen shelf styling, follow these insider tips on how to create an elegant yet inviting atmosphere with this refined approach to kitchen storage.

Embrace bookshelves

“Extra kitchen storage is something that, unsurprisingly, all of my clients request and open shelving is the perfect place for storing your most treasured ceramics, vases and whatever else you might want to see on a daily basis, leaving precious cabinetry free for everything else” explains Antonia Winkler von Stiernhielm of Studio Anton.

“The simplest way to introduce open shelving in your kitchen, without the need for any structural changes, is to use a freestanding unit. Bookcases and china cabinets work particularly well as they introduce a timlessness to the space whilst also offering character themselves.” 

“Add some depth by choosing a different colour or material for the back of the shelves, this trick really allows your more sculptural ceramics and pieces to sing.”

Covet Noir open shelving kitchen
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Less is more

“Avoid the temptation to go overboard with styling pieces,” advises Antonia, “this look is all about refinement and there’s a fine line between a busy space and an elegant arrangement. I work closely with my clients to find out exactly what pieces are most special to them and choose to focus on these with the addition of some new pieces to bring the space together. This isn’t about bringing everything out of the kitchen cupboards, it’s much more nuanced than that.”

Maria Lindgren and Adele Lonergan, co-founders of Covet Noir agree, adding that “for us, less is definitely more to avoid a cluttered feeling, whilst making sure we combine a mix of materials, shapes and height to create a proportional and visually pleasing display.”

Add some artwork

“The sourcing of art and accessories is definitely the most personal aspect of any project,” explains Adele Lonergan.  “We love to work in collaboration with our clients to carefully curate a selection of art and accessories that are not only beautiful, but tailored to them. Open kitchen shelves create the perfect spot to display curated kitchen accessories and art, it also helps open up the space.”

“Informally propping art on a kitchen shelf is great for creating a more relaxed look. It also allows more flexibility to change and rotate art as you collect new things or want to freshen things up.”

Humphrey munson and Covet Noir open shelving kitchen
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Play with texture

“While we want to create a timeless foundation with finishes, furniture and colour palettes, our clients taste in accessories and art is always evolving.” It’s this evolving scheme that allows Covet Noir to experiment with what they want to display, “we also love adding in touches of foliage to add some soft greenery and to provide a lovely scent, fresh herbs are a favourite of ours.”

“Adding accessories is such a simple way to introduce texture in any room in your home,” points out Antonia, “not least in the kitchen where most surfaces are covered in only one or two materials. Both the shelves themselves and the pieces you display work together to create a mirage of texture and tones. Keep them in the same family for a cohesive look or experiment with colour and scale for a more playful take.”

“What’s great about open shelving,” she explains, “is that nothing is permanent, so it’s the perfect spot to experiment with trends that resonate with your style if you want to. Don’t be afraid to try out different arrangements, sometimes the unexpected combinations end up looking the most harmonious.”