8 kitchen shelf ideas to maximize every inch of space

Kitchens accumulate a lot of stuff, but squeezing shelves in can help

By Sarah Lyon
Published August 29, 2021 1:30PM (EDT)
 (Mark Weinberg / Food52)
(Mark Weinberg / Food52)

This story first appeared on Food52, an online community that gives you everything you need for a happier kitchen and home – that means tested recipes, a shop full of beautiful products, a cooking hotline, and everything in between!

It doesn't matter whether your kitchen is especially expansive or incredibly tiny — every cooking space has room for shelving. In fact, the more cramped your kitchen, the more important it is that you're able to access all of your key dining essentials and ingredients without having to search high and low every time you're about to prep a meal. But we also understand that determining where to install (and how to style) kitchen shelves can pose a bit of a conundrum, which is why we've rounded up nine delightful setups that are sure to inspire you. No matter your style or kitchen size, you can learn a thing or two from each of the below arrangements.

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1. Next-to-stove shelves

Open shelving doesn't need to be installed directly above a sink or countertop; feel free to get creative and hang it off to the side of your fridge, dishwasher, or oven, if you have available wall space there. Here, wooden shelves are made extra artful looking with the addition of pops of cheerful paint and are styled with a mix of fun and functional items.

2. No pantry, no problem

If you're lacking a real pantry, decant your go-to ingredients and place them in uniform glass jars so that you can keep all of the essentials without having to stare at unsightly bags and canisters. Note that you don't need to spend much on storage solutions; jars can be purchased affordably at craft and hardware stores, or you can reuse those you buy at the grocery store after emptying their contents.

3. Floating shelves forever

Floating shelves can be an excellent way to express your personal style — choose a color scheme or aesthetic that inspires you and stick to it. Everyday pieces such as cutting boards, chic bottles of olive oil, and small plants can easily double as decor.

4. Install a do-it-all shelf

This shelf takes the place of traditional cabinets and can neatly hold everything from plates to pitchers to condiments. It will also give you incentive to empty the dishwasher right away — who can resist such a cute little display?

5. Make use of the hutch

If you have a large hutch in your kitchen, use it to display a mix of functional and personal items. Think a bit outside the box when it comes to styling and feel free to integrate sculptures and other pieces that we don't traditionally see in the kitchen. You spend enough time in the space prepping three meals a day — there's no reason for your decor to feel bland.

6. Go for a peg rail

Try installing one long peg shelf that will add a focal point to your kitchen. This one makes for a great spot to hang shopping bags, aprons, and the like. It also defines the color-blocked wall and gives the space some architectural character on the cheap.

7. Go vertical

Make use of vertical space! If your ceilings are high enough, install tall cabinets that can hold all of your serveware, drinkware, and beyond. The little ladder is a charming touch that makes it easy to access even the tallest of shelves on a whim, no so-so step stools required.

8. Squeeze 'em in where you can

Shelves don't need to be large in size to come in handy — or to make an impact in a space. After all, your mugs and glasses need a home, too. Everything in this kitchen is neatly arranged by type.


Sarah Lyon

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