We Found a New Place for Your Open Kitchen Shelving—The Window

Glassware will shine and plants will thrive.
Lydia Geisel Avatar
large kitchen with open shelving across windows

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There’s nothing uplifting about cooking in a boxy, black hole of a kitchen, which is why windows that provide ample sunlight are so important. The catch is, they eat up valuable wall space that may otherwise be used for upper storage. But where in the rule book is it written that you have to work around windows? Instead, consider extending your shelving across them.

Open shelves may be a recipe for dust, but if you want to hang on to any semblance of natural light, upper cabinets aren’t an option. Depending on how many windows you have in your space, you can gain a few solid extra feet of storage simply by taking the planks all the way across. 

For maximum exposure, stick to a single plank, as did designer Robert McKinley, who topped a slab of African mahogany in his Montauk bungalow kitchen with white bowls, cookbooks, and herbs. “There’s something interesting about having this long, linear display of beautiful plates and artwork to view from all angles of the room,” says McKinley, adding that the exposed supports elevate it one step beyond a standard floating shelf. “It almost becomes sculptural.” 

wood cabinets in a farmhouse kitchen
Photography by Eric Piasecki; Styling by Kate Berry

If you’re looking to store all of your ceramics and dishes there, take a page out of Katrina Hernandez’s book and double up on your shelves. The designer connected the boards in this industrial farmhouse kitchen with iron piping.

rustic kitchen cabinets with open shelves
Photography by J. Ashley, Courtesy of Dana Lynch Design

This is also an opportunity to change how light filters into your space by playing around with transparent or opaque accessories. Technicolor coups; living, growing greenery; and funky blown-glass vases will change your whole perspective. 

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