Clever Kitchen Ideas: Open Shelves

Create a functional space with this easy-to-install open shelving project.
By: Heidi Karpa


This quick kitchen shelving is easy to install.

This quick kitchen shelving is easy to install.

Materials and Tools:

storage baskets
decorative items
tape measure
stud finder
masking tape
drill bits
wall anchors



Measure and mark shelf heights on the wall before drilling.

Measure and mark shelf heights on the wall before drilling.


1. With a tape measure, measure your wall to determine usable wall space.

2. Create a drawing to map out your project. Determine the number of shelves, clearance between shelves, and lengths of shelves. This process is critical and makes every decision easier moving forward. Reviewing design magazine photos can help jump-start your creativity. Tip: Use masking tape directly on your wall to determine exactly where you want your shelves. It's easy to move around, and gives you an instant visual of what works.

3. Keep in mind visual guides that already exist: countertop and cabinet heights (top and bottom), window frame heights and table heights. Use them to outline the top and bottom of the shelving unit. Do this and your project will visually fit your space and have a more custom look.



Check to ensure your paper templates are level.

Check to ensure your paper templates are level.

4. Have an idea of what you want to store on your shelving unit. Plates, glasses and frequently used food items are good ideas, and help you to identify which shelves need more support.

5. Look at the materials already in your kitchen. Be aware of metal and wood tones, wall color and accent colors. This will help determine what kind of shelves you buy.

6. At your local home or organization store, find a knowledgeable clerk to help you. Bring paint samples or dish towels with you to the store and show them these materials along with your drawing. With their help, select your shelves and brackets. Get additional screws and wall anchors as backup. Also purchase additional brackets for weight-bearing shelves.

7. Select baskets, storage items and decorative elements that fit your plan and coordinate with the existing materials in your kitchen. With someone from the store helping you, this process goes much faster.

8. Back in your kitchen, lay out the shelves on your floor to visually see what you're creating. Keep in mind how far apart you want the shelves to be from each other. This step gets overlooked all the time. Tip: Remember that brackets take up space. Review and adjust as necessary.

9. With a pencil, level and measuring tape, start mapping on the wall where each shelf will go. Many shelves come with adhesive guides that attach to the wall. This makes the process of leveling, locating screw locations and alignment much easier.



Mounting brackets is easy with a laser level.

Mounting brackets is easy with a laser level.

10. After you've mapped the shelves, use a stud finder to locate studs. Stand back and review and readjust as necessary. Keep in mind how the overall shelving unit looks aligned with your existing cabinets, windows and countertops. Double-check everything before you drill. Is everything level? Is each screw location marked and accurate? Are your shelf clearances workable?



Hang the shelves appropriately on the brackets.

Hang the shelves appropriately on the brackets.

11. Following the directions included with the shelves, start drilling and mounting each shelf. Work from the top down. The lowest shelf is the last shelf to be installed. This is the fastest part of the project. With all drilling locations marked and double-checked, installation proceeds quickly.

12. It's time to start loading the shelves. Almost nothing's more satisfying than emptying out cabinet space, removing clutter from countertops and creating a visually pleasing new element to your kitchen.

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