Friday, April 19, 2013

Why the Open Shelving Trend Is Not for Me

I'm ecstatic that its spring and warmer weather is on the horizon. Not just because this means we can stop being cooped up in the house and enjoy being in the garden, letting in the fresh air, etc. What I'm really happy about is that its almost outdoor painting weather. Which means I can stop looking at the scene above every day.

Every single thing in the kitchen cabinets has been on full display for the past six months (almost seven actually) since our outdoor cabinet spray-painting project was interrupted by, of all the nerve, winter. That's since last the end of September. Last September! As I'm more of a "hide all the stuff where I never have to look at it" kind of neat freak, this has been rather disturbing.

All-in-all I've handled it pretty well I think. I haven't murdered anyone, or had any major breakdowns (at least not since I spent a week painting the cabinet boxes). We even had some guests stay for the weekend. But as we get closer and closer to outdoor painting weather I've been itching to see my dishes and food stuffs hidden behind freshly painted white doors. And kitchen drawers! Remember self, when we had kitchen drawers to store stuff in? Oh, the luxury!

In a way, I guess I could take this experience as a great exercise in learning what we really need for day-to-day living. There is a rather large blue IKEA tarp bag hidden in the basement full of kitchen stuff from the drawers and cabinets that we've lived without quite easily for the past six months. I went from one drawer of cutlery and a second for utensils to a single drawer of both, and yet we were still able to cook. As I think about it, I'm not even sure what all is in that bag besides extra dish towels and the remains of the junk drawer.

Another thing the "great open cabinet winter of 2013" has confirmed is something I've long suspected. The trend of open shelving and open cabinetry is absolutely, positively, not for me! When the boyfriend's mother came to stay, she kindly remarked that she liked the open cabinets so much she thought I should leave them that way. While I'm glad that not everyone thinks the current state of my kitchen is as hideous as I do, there's no way I would choose this look on purpose.

Please don't misunderstand, I've seen pictures of some absolutely gorgeous kitchens that feature open shelving  and open cabinetry. What I question is the practicality of this trend. Perhaps if one lives without pets, hair, and has only beautiful dishes and kitchen items, then it's a lot less hassle. But for us, with three cats, one boyfriend, and my long hair, it's a disaster. I've been vacuuming the shelves because there is some hair, and a lot of dust everywhere. Do people dust their shelves and cabinets every week? Because more cleaning and maintenance is not my idea of fun.

I've also had two open shelves ever since I've lived in this house. I use them to store my decorative-only collection of vintage Pyrex. And they are purely decorative in part because you would need to to scrub them before every use due to the dust and sometimes bits of grease that find them. They look nice from far away, but I always hope visitors don't get too close and wonder if all my dishes are so sketchy. (They're not, pinky swear).

Readers, I'm curious, what do you think of this trend? And if you have open shelving in your home, how has the maintenance issue been? Do we just live in a freakishly dusty and furry house?


  1. I watched Alfred Hitchcock Presents once and in his opening monologue he said, "Boxes! For the man who has everything but can't bear to look at it."
    I could totally relate.
    And no matter what anyone else tries to pretend: we ALL live in dusty/furry houses. In the years that I didn't own a cat at all my house was just as furry as when I owned two.

    1. Thanks Mary, I'm glad to know it's not just us!! :)

  2. I'm so glad you haven't murdered anyone, that's a relief!

    Anyhow, this whole little saga has convinced me that perhaps I can live with my ugly kitchen a bit longer... I'm not so sure I'd be faring as well as you seem to be in the sanity department.

    And I'm totally with you in terms of the open cabinet thing. Not only would everything be covered with a layer of grease, dust and cat hair in very short order, but I'm pretty sure Smoky would see all those open shelves as an irresistible challenge. I mean, he woke me up in the middle of the night knocking pictures off the wall the other day, I shudder to think what he'd do with an entire kitchen full of stuff to destroy!

    1. I like to set the bar low....guarantees success. :)

      But please don't base a future reno on this one. With better planning (i.e. me starting painting before October), and being less picky it would never have taken this long.

      Mikko has hidden in a cabinet or two, but they've left it alone remarkably. It helps that they are senior citizens (15 and 16) and get into a lot less trouble these days. And the boyfriend's cat is younger, but is so obese he acts like a senior cat too (sad but true, we can't get him to lose weight).

  3. I agree with's definitely not for me. There are some areas of a home that will be innately a little cluttered in appearance (like the kitchen utensil cupboard!) no matter how organized we are. It's very satisfying to be able to hide it all behind doors.

    Now you're reminding me that I need to go through my kitchen cabinets!

  4. Open cabinets always look good in design/decor magazines and advertising, but only works if you don't really cook at all (and have a maid or are willing to do extra work). The most I could do is semi-clear glass doors and even then, I wouldn't have this on every cabinet. The last thing I want to think about is having to stack neatly!


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