When we think of kitchen storage, cabinetry is probably the first thing that comes to mind. But with kitchen accessories looking sleeker and slimmer everyday (like this vegetable chopper and spice grinder), no one wants to hide them away. Open shelving allows you to put these goodies on display for easy access and aesthetic enjoyment. Plus, shelves can keep smaller kitchens looking more open and give any kitchen a more casual, welcoming feel. You can give shelves even more character by using salvaged material, whether glass, metal or wood. No matter your budget, you can create an open-shelf pantry, dish display or spice rack using creative secondhand materials. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Glass shelves and brackets might summon '80s flashbacks, but within the right setting, they're still a perfect material for keeping a design simple and clean. Make sure the brackets are secured either to studs or to bracing pieces built especially for the shelving, and understand the weight limits of the glass—don't pile them with lots of heavy pots and pans. Tempered glass (glass that's processed to increase strength) is typically used in this type of shelving, but you can make your own glass shelving with salvaged glass. If it's not a perfect fit, simply take it to a glass shop and have them cut to size for you.
I found this picture of open glass shelving on Pinterest, one of my favorite places to search for ideas. Photo by: BLDGSPACE
What about using recycled office or retail space goods? Secondhand restaurant stainless steel shelving or old library bookcases might seem mundane in an their original settings, but in the unexpected environment of a kitchen, they add a bit of character. One homeowner highlighted in my book used a video shop's old VCR tape shelving (top)—it's a little bit narrower, which makes it ideal for an open pantry. These already-made instant shelving solutions are great for a quick fix that's still original.
Find It: Look at a secondhand office or restaurant supply store.
One of the best ways to get creative is using material in a different way than it was intended. Open cabinet drawers, with their bottoms popped out, make fun shelving, especially when pushed together to make a veritable collage of dishes and glassware. Mismatched drawers can be found at architectural salvage shops and recycle centers. You can paint them all one color, or you can leave them as they are—imperfections and all.
Find It: Check architectural salvage shops, rebuild centers or antique shops.
Photo by: Amanda Sexton via Pinterest.com
Metal is playing a larger role in today's design, especially as the industrial trend shows no signs of slowing. Old office metal storage shelving, or even secondhand storage bins from some mechanic shops (well-cleaned, of course), can be a beautiful and useful addition to a kitchen. In 2008, The New York Times ran a story on the home of J. Morgan Puett, fashion designer and artist, which is filled with unique finds, including salvaged industrial metal shelving throughout the kitchen.
Find It: Browse scrap metal yards and industrial secondhand shops, or search online searches industrial shelving.
There are lots of places to shop for open shelving. Here I am at Brimfield Antiques Fair in Massachusetts picking up an old retail rack with metal shelves. Photo by: Susan Teare
Of course, one of the most popular ways to create opening shelving is to use salvaged wood and brackets. The styles are endless: white painted shelves with black vintage brackets, wooden brackets with brightly colored shelves, salvaged wood left in its natural state—with all its nicks and dings showing proudly—held up by simple black or chrome brackets. Wood shelving is easy to create and install—you can find tons of great stories and photos online (such as this rustic country kitchen), including step-by-step instructions on sites like DIY Network. With a little research, you can find the salvaged shelves that will fit with your kitchen's style and space.
Find It: Salvage shops, rebuild centers and online reclaimed wood companies are all reliable sources.
If you don't have time to dig for the perfect wood shelf, search for salvaged or reclaimed styles from a home design store. We like west elm's Reclaimed Wood Shelf + Modern Brackets [photo below].
For more pictures and information on incorporating salvaged shelving in your kitchen, check out Joanne's book, Salvage Secrets: Transforming Reclaimed Material Into Design Concepts.